Developer: Half Mermaid
Publisher: Half Mermaid
Platform: Windows, Xbox, iOS, Android, Mac
One daunting goal for any game designer is ensuring the player experiences the story as intended while affording them enough agency to experience it at their own pace. Immortality is the third interactive film by Sam Barlow, following Her Story and Telling Lies, the common thread between them being that their narratives are pieced together nonchronologically at the behest of the player. Much like shuffling a deck of cards, no two players will experience these games in the same order, with just a few major reveals held back until a majority of their respective tales have been told. More ambitiously than its predecessors, Immortality successfully manages to tell several stories all at once. While the audience for the stories themselves may be somewhat limited due to the nature of the material, the game as a whole is another impressive achievement of game design in filmmaking.
Continue reading Immortality
Developer: Downing a Mermaid Productions & Furious Bee Ltd.
Platform: Windows, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Mac, iPad, iPhone
Has it really been almost five years since I reviewed Her Story? Sheesh, I’m getting old. Back then I said I was looking forward to Sam Barlow’s next project. I think I forgot about that as I didn’t discover Telling Lies until about 18 months after its release. Still, it was very much worth the wait.
Mild spoilers under the break. You might enjoy the game more knowing nothing about it.
Continue reading Telling L!es
Author: Sam Barlow
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length Of Play: One-Move Game
My Rating: 7
Awards: Best Use of Medium — 1999 XYZZY Awards
Perhaps the first serious game that would automatically end after one move. The premise is quite simple as you play an ordinary man in an ordinary supermarket who has stopped in the pasta aisle next to a woman who is also shopping. There are exactly 136 possible moves you can make that produce 136 separate endings. There is neither a puzzle nor a plot, and one would be hard pressed to say this is even a character study, as some of the endings’ portrayal of your character’s history contradict each other.
I do wish there was something more here to unravel, but as it stands this is quite a pleasant diversion thanks to the imagination and quality writing of Sam Barlow. More importantly, Aisle inspired many future authors in experimenting with the genre, including a few entertaining games that mimic this one.
I still come back and play Aisle about every five years. There’s just something about the protagonist’s world view that makes me smile.
Developer: Sam Barlow
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Regrettably as the older I’ve become, the less effort I’ve found myself willing to put into playing computer games. I prefer to blame the time constrictions of maturation: fatherhood, home ownership, Netflixing with my better half. Ultimately, however, the greatest factor is my waning patience with gratification. This extends to all forms of media; if I have to wait longer than five minutes for stimulation, my interest wanders. Thus, the piled up bin of pilot episodes (sorry Nurse Jackie), second chapters (you too The Girl Who Played with Fire), and barely played computer games (maybe later Quest for Glory 2) awaiting continuation but more likely relegated to eternally gathering dust. Despite this I’m also not looking for cheap and unsatisfying thrills (I’m looking at you Angry Birds). Her Story may be my panacea, motivating me not only to play through its story, but also to forge on and try other games that have been sitting on my virtual shelf for far too long.
Continue reading Her Story