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Immortall: An exploration into pathos and alienation

September 18, 2010

Another week is well upon us, as is the next highlighted game, Immortall, but this time it’s a little different. This time I’m highlighting a game that goes beyond the simple aesthetics that define flash gaming. This title holds a subtext which is filled with pathos. It’s a journey, a tragic one, an exploration into the revelation of our humanity and our core being. I won’t hide or be coy with my love for this game, it is one of my favourites. I give to you a dissertation into the brilliance that is Immortall.

First off, this game straight away discusses a topic that I am fascinated and captivated by, which is the theme of ‘alien’. Not the typical “little green men” alien, but rather what it truly means to be alien, to encounter alien, to be confounded by an object we have no experience in. At the heart of the theme of alien is that of discovery, curiosity and of course subjugation. By understanding something, we subjugate it, we dominate and label it. And by doing this, we destroy the “alien” not so much physically, but metaphorically because we now understand it, we comprehend it. It is no longer alien to us.

It’s a dichotomy and as all my readers know, I literally crack a chubby over dichotomies.

The music throughout this game is also brilliant, from the moment your spaceship crashes, its haunting melodies will infect your perception and will inevitably reinforce the montage of despondency. Everything has a melancholic tinge to it as your body is slowly but inevitably destroyed by the process of understanding. Your feet add to the song, and they are slowed by the song. The firing of guns is lyrical to you, the bullets don’t hurt until you see them hurt those around you.

I think it’s very important to note the massive impact of the little girl at the beginning of the game. She doesn’t recoil in horror of the alien, she grabs it and pulls it close to her. This is reflective of one of the best parts of humanity, when we encounter something unique, something new and alien we aren’t automatically afraid of it. We are curios creatures, our motivations may differ: some may look to exploit the other, some may look to understand the other, some may just love the other because it isn’t familiar (I myself fall into this category) and chose to just enjoy it’s otherness without trying to understand it.

The form of the alien bears closer scrutiny because at the beginning, the shape is worm almost tadpole like. Entering the world for the first time, the similarity here to another tadpole like creature cannot be ignored. Once it is touched by the girl, it takes shape, it becomes humanoid perhaps in an attempt to mimic or perhaps it had no control over it. Perhaps, it was forced to conform, to adapt as a by-product or interaction to us. Perhaps the alien had no other option, after all, its ship had crashed and was beyond repair, there was no escape for it. This speculation is what is at the heart of the game, it forces us to speculate on motivations and operations beyond what is presented in front of us. Basically this game stokes the fires of our curiosity!

So much is going on in this game, so many theories about mortality, morality, alienation, freedom and destiny. How free are we to choose our own path in life? I replayed this game many times to see if the outcome would ever change, and I won’t spoil it for you, but it doesn’t. Or at least, my perception of it didn’t, yours may differ.

I could spend all day on this subject, but instead just experience the alien for yourself.


From → Games

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