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PSA: Play Immortality with a controller

Also, the game has some intense jump scares

an image of marissa marcel in the film game Immortality Image: Half Mermaid
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

In Her Story creator Sam Barlow’s new murder-thriller game, Immortality, players investigate one central question: What happened to Marissa Marcel?

Marcel is a dazzling film starlet who has met a tragic fate — or, at least, an ambiguous one. It’s not clear what happened to her at the game’s outset, but she’s disappeared, and it’s up to players to figure out what happened to her by scrubbing through a newly unearthed collection of all her work.

Before you play, here’s a recommendation on how to best experience the game: Polygon very strongly recommends that you play Immortality with a controller. Without spoiling the details, just be aware that some key moments of discovery feel a lot better and are a lot more obvious with a controller than with a keyboard. It’s not impossible to play with a keyboard, but the game’s logic and general feel work way better with a controller. (Some of our staffers weren’t able to progress very far in the game using a keyboard, whereas those using controllers had a much easier time figuring out how to proceed.)

Because using a controller felt a lot better, Polygon asked Barlow why the developers didn’t end up adding a prompt that recommends players use a controller with the game. He answered via email that the team is “considering adding one,” he said.

“We spent a lot of development playing on mouse, so we hadn’t really overthought the issue. Then when we got closer to ship and we felt it was good to tell players that controller was optimal for feedback and the mechanical ‘feel.’ But at that point, even something as simple as adding an extra screen up front was complicated enough, so we wanted to leave it till after we’d launched on all platforms,” he said.

Barlow and the rest of the Half Mermaid team has had to juggle launching the game on mobile platforms and, eventually, on Netflix (of all places). Its mobile release will be “very soon” according to the developers, so players will have to wait and see how the mechanics pan out on mobile devices.

Adding an additional screen would make sense, since the game already comes with a hefty list of content warnings for nudity, strong curse words, and “sudden and surprising visual cuts and sound events.”

Emphasis on the “sudden and surprising.” I read the content warning, but I didn’t realize going into Immortality that the game is a horror game with intense jump scares. If you tend to be sensitive to horror elements, then you’re going to want to be aware of this. Sure, sorting through all the film can feel more mundane and even relaxing at times, but there is plenty to scare players.

So, if you’re down with jump scares, horror, and you’re able to play on a controller, Marissa Marcel is waiting for you in Immortality.

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