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Frothology Review: The Immortal, December 3, 2007
I remember really liking "On A Pale Horse" and "Wielding A Red Sword" by Piers Anthony when I was younger. I also remember thinking that the first "Highlander" movie was pretty cool. "The Immortal" borrows heavily from both these concepts and can only make my ask one question:
What the hell happened?
This story has everything that it needs to be really deep and involved. There were many aspects about it that I thought stood out and would have been great had they been given the attention that they deserved. The idea of the thought bubbles, and how one would collide with them to absorb information was different. Crushing cubes into powder and breathing the dust to create different effects was a nice fantasy touch. But where do these bubbles and cubes come from? Why are they here? I was interested in the story enough to want to know these things, but unfortunately an answer is never really given.
The soul chamber room had a great description. I really could see the flowing floor of sand and a large multitude of baskets by the pillars. But again some problems arose in the design not being fully realized. There is food in the baskets, but why can I not take some to give to the hobgoblin? The game does not even acknowledge the food after it tells you the food is there.
This story could be very interesting but I feel it would need a larger setting to tell properly. Of course, larger settings mean more work to avoid the problems that I am about to discuss. And those problems make playing this game very difficult. It's like trying to convince yourself that it is a good thing to belt sand your face off. Sure you can do it, but the end result is probably not worth the effort.
This game feels like the author was still discovering what was happening in his game's world at the same time he was writing it down. It comes across to me that he was in such a hurry to make sure he told you everything because he was afraid that if he did not he would forget it all. The Immortal suffers from a lack of going back and truly implementing everything short of what is required to beat the game. This means that you are going to use the walk-through. (Unfortunately for you, the walk-through contains a mistake or two itself.)
There are events that will continue to replay even though they should have ended. There is a bug that lets you rack up more points than the game is supposed to allow. One of the most interesting items in the game is not implemented at all. Seriously folks, I have a samurai sword on me. I am the only one that thought of trying to kill anything with it? How about the thief of a hobgoblin, you know the one that is already wounded, why does the game not even understand me wanting to stab that son-of-a-motherless-goat? Did I forget how to swing a stupid sword?
Why give me a sword and then never let me use it? That makes me wish I could disembowel myself (with the samurai sword that I can never use, but inexplicably have) and save some grief over continuing to play this.
This game is in Inform and I am unaware of anything the author can do to really change its overall appearance. So in that case, the presentation is fine.
Did I have fun?
There were parts of this story that could be really, really good under other circumstances. The location that I mentioned earlier really made an impression on me for some reason. But as a whole I did not really enjoy this. The implementation problems and lack of world related detail (why can I not sit on the sofa?) kept me from getting immersed in "The Immortal."
The author would do well to take this concept and perhaps remake this game. I do not think the story should be abandoned, just perhaps retold in a more detailed and stable environment. The surreal, to do well, always seems to take much more work than "the real."