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ImmorTall


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Rating: 4.2/5 (203 votes)
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JamesImmorTallGet ready to give humanity another symbolic black eye in Pixelante's new side-scrolling story-game ImmorTall, the sad tale of a gooey black alien visitor and the not-so-hospitable treatment he gets from Earth dwellers.

If you are quick off the draw, highly impatient or have a case of right-click-and-search mania, you might have Google'd 'story-game' by now. That would have gotten you to a forum with what seems to be a jolly nice community, but that is not what I am talking about. 'Story-game' is what I'd like to use to define a growing type of game we're starting to see more and more of. A game that plays you more than you play it. [Here at JIG we use the tag 'narrative' for games with a strong or emergent story element. -Ed.]

ImmorTall is deceptively simple. You play as an alien who crashes on the planet's surface and soon after crawling from your wreckage encounters a little girl. She feeds you, which makes you grow. As you proceed, you'll be received warmly by the rest of her family... but not, perhaps, by everyone you meet. ImmorTall is not a game of skill. You can only move back and forth. In fact, the end of the game is inevitable and you do not even need to keep the family alive. But you want to. And you want to survive. As the alien lumbers forward, you can't help but feel touched by the alien's plight and the aggression shown towards him.

But this is the Raison d'être of the game: it exists to make a point and to tug at your emotions. That is how ImmorTall plays you. The effect is amplified by Pixelante's trademark silhouette art style and the melancholy soundtrack. The whole experience has futility written all over it and if you finish ImmorTall feeling downtrodden and sad, it has succeeded in what it wanted to do. I am inclined to agree with some of the JIG staffers' opinion that it is not as good as, say, The Majesty Of Colours, but unlike that game this isn't about putting the player in moral situations, but instead to experience being at the receiving end of another's arrogance.

Play ImmorTall

ImmorTall was previously featured here at JIG in a Link Dump Friday.

35 Comments

blakyoshi7 Author Profile Page March 12, 2010 11:17 AM

This game sure had a message all right. I wonder what it was?

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Why the review have to spoil the whole story? :(

Anyway there are several 'endings' actually from

'saving yourself', 'ignore the humans', to 'save the humans'.

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My favorite ending is where you just hang around your crashed ship. You never encounter the humans, the humans never encounter you, and you can just spend the rest of your immortal days in peace.

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Anonymous March 12, 2010 2:29 PM

Interesting bug:

You can in fact outrace some of the humans. As in, move forth enough such that they are behind the camera area. (and in some cases you can even outrace the camera itself when it doubles back) As such, they will in fact not die as the army seems to only stop and shoot on your position.

This prompts some... interesting questions about the game's backstory. Who is protecting who? Though most players would assume the alien is the one doing the protecting, however, he is the one that is moving towards the war zone. He is the one that the army seems to target. In fact, there is nothing to suggest that there are multiple sides to this battle and that they are caught inbetween, rather than the targets themselves (which as the battle ends when you die seems to confirm). If you just stayed in the beginning area, there was no danger, no need to protect, no need to die. But as players, we move forward: to explore, for action, to try and "win". Without any prompts, we are left to make our own. It is unlikely that the author meant it to be anything that deep, but it is something to ponder I suppose

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Anonymous March 12, 2010 3:15 PM

How do you get the

"ignore the humans" ending? Do you just hang around the beginning area? I tried that for a little while (without going up to the girl) but nothing happened. Did I just not wait long enough, or did I have to go a bit farther to get the ending?

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JIGuest,

You can end the game by walking back to your ship after entering the warzone. I'm not sure if that is the ending you're thinking of.

There aren't any big differences between endings other than what you take out of them.

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Anonymous March 12, 2010 3:58 PM

No, I already got that ending. So far, I've

attempted to save the family but failed and died, saved the family and died, and gone back to my ship and left the family there. So, basically, "everyone dies", "I die", and "the family dies". But according to some comments, there's another ending - OtherBill and rosedragon mentioned it. OtherBill said "My favorite ending is where you just hang around your crashed ship. You never encounter the humans, the humans never encounter you, and you can just spend the rest of your immortal days in peace."

That's the one I was looking for.

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waycooler Author Profile Page March 12, 2010 4:04 PM

I don't know if I got stuck, or what, but eventually after taking enough shots, I ended up unable to go left or right, perpetually bound in one spot. Pretty sure I was almost dead too cause the camera was moving up and down pretty fast.

I love the idea, and kind of went through it in my mind imagining what I, as the alien, would be thinking. I wish there was more choice though. I wanted to go for some "unjustly hated and just trying to survive" ending, but the humans ended up following me. Then I wanted to blow everything up and be the evil invader I've always wanted to be, but I couldn't do that either :(

I loved the visuals and music, in particular I liked how when you're attempting to defend the family, all of a sudden you gain insane speed and move faster than a speeding bullet. And to you time is moving slower. So cool!

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waycooler: I too got to a near-death point where I'm unable to move.

The game's fairly restrictive as to what you can do, and doesn't seem to have that much of a message within it - it's completely left to the player to interpret. The visuals and music were nice. The music goes along with any actions going on on screen - your steps, the guns being fired, the bullets hitting you. I got the obvious ending

(saving the humans)

the first time I played, and I got stuck the second time (as noted above) while trying to ignore the plight of the humans and continuing forward.

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bioshocker March 12, 2010 5:27 PM

stupid humans always attacking aliens w/o knowing if there good or bad

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There's a special ending:

Saving only the girl. Whe you die, she just plops down right near your head and freezes to death. More touching than how I said it, but very touching.

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@Jomn

Wow... that was pretty slick. It makes sense in hindsight, but to save a specific character is pretty darn difficult (especially with their off kilter AIs...)

That said:

I really love the daughter's AI - her AI is the one that really touched my heart throughout my playthroughs. You see her cry for quite some time when either her alien friend leaves, dies, or one of her family dies. She will actually stay crying over a dead body quite some time (which is annoying for players who want to just rush through the game, since the game doesn't allow you to go further if the family has stopped), and it goes to show how dear everything is to her.

This is especially true for any of the endings. Assuming that she is alive, you will notice that she stays crying the longest over the alien's death/departure out of all her family members. Heck, the father seemed kind of glad IMO that the alien was leaving. So that said, I wouldn't be surprised if Jomn's ending is serious.

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DeGnominator March 13, 2010 9:15 AM

Metaphor for the onset of age, anyone?

Just the way in which the alien starts of small and sprightly, meets the family and 'grows up', and then sets off into the wide world - where he is worn down by what he finds there until he is nearly bent over double and practically immobile.

Finally succumbing, he dies, leaving only whatever is left of 'his' family, the members he successfully shielded from the outside world.

Not sure where that leaves the spaceship endings though. Insanity? Could be why the girl is lamenting his departure - then again, maybe she can't see that it's for the best. Hell, only the prescience afforded by having played through on previous occasions yields that tidbit of information. I doubt there's many players who didn't die on their first play.

Ah, I'm rambling.

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Acidifiers Author Profile Page March 13, 2010 9:47 AM

It appears the end depends on who you keep alive. Some of them desert you; some of them stay and weep for you if another family member does too, but if left alone, will desert you; some will stay and weep despite their dead family, and so on.

I noticed that the son immediately ran to his mother when she fell; interestingly, the father didn't weep at all. Throughout the game, he leads the way, but runs farthest back the second danger comes. He was the only one who didn't assist the alien in any way. He never cries - except for when the little girl dies, and he weeps the longest of them all; and when the father dies, the only one who weeps is the little girl. The little girl tends to just "give up" when her parents die; the boy tends to wander off.

I do wish there was a kind of "quick replay" button, so I could start over and see who dies, and the reactions.

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Awwww.

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sgtdroopy Author Profile Page March 14, 2010 9:06 AM

This game makes me less sad than angry. I think less of "Aww. The alien and his friends are being attacked" than I do "Why the wont the darn farmer stay behind me!"

The game's point would be better suited if it allowed the player to succeed. Then anger wouldn't appear and the sadness the game tries to evoke would be all there is.

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Intepretation....
Adult male cells have the nastiest properties
While young female cells are the purest of human cells

Does that mean all male must die?
In order for the earth to be saved?

Seriously what is the origin of evil?

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Primal1nstincts Author Profile Page March 14, 2010 4:42 PM

The meaning I got from this game was this:

We all start out life as a small and defensless entity. There is always someone there from the beginning to give you care and love, otherwise there would be no future in it. As time passes, we travel and discover new places and people. Growing with knowledge of life, we grow strong being able to defend ourselves. But with every beginning there must be an end. Whether its from natural causes or fighting for the ones you love, we all meet the same demise.

Live now and forever. Memory is what keeps us alive.

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I like how there is a little note you hear when the alien takes a step.

The first time I played, I managed to save my family. I couldn't bear playing it to find the other endings and I teared up when the alien was stooped down like an old man, walking slowly and on the brink of death.

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Find yet another ending

If you can keep ONLY the mother alive,she instead of crying for a while and wander away, will cry until frozen to death. This is quite similar to the reaction of the daughter

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@Acidifiers

If you can leave ONLY the father alive.
He'll WEEP next to the alien untill frozen to death (Probably he feels hopeless when all his family died). It's similar to the reaction of the daughter and the mother.

So the only guy who didn't weep for the alien is the son. He wanders away despite the death of his family. (You might say he is strong and can take care of himself)

ENDINGS

1.Only one is left alive

Daughter

As Jomn has mentioned, she'll ploop down next to the alien and froze to death

Mother or Father

Weep next to the alien until frozen to death

Son

Run next to the alien, stop for a moment, then continue on his path

2.Ignore the family/Ignore the humans

Walk back to spaceship after entering the warzone

3.Save yourself

Do 2. after the whole family has died (Actually the ending is the same as 2.)

4.Save the family/Save the humans

Go through the warzone, keeping the whole family alive (It is easier than it sounds, as you'll die very soon. i.e. the ending arrives quite early)

5. Only two alive
Son and daughter

The ending is the combination of Daughter only and Son only.i.e. Daughter gives up, son continues (Thought they will work together to live, but it wasn't :( )

Good luck finding the remaining 9(possible) endings

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Another of the 9 remaining possible endings

Mother and son

Combination of mother only and son only, except mother only cries for a little while then continue with the son

From 'save the family', 'mother only' and 'mother and son', it can be deduced that

Mother's AI has at least two conditions. If only she lefts, she'll cry to death. Else if there's at least another family member alive, she'll cry then continue

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It's interesting how the humans react if you try going back to your spaceship after being shot at.

The father jumps up and down, the little girl cries, and the mother and son just watch. After you leave, everyone but the little girl walks away, and she stays there and cries until the screen fades away.

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I don't know how anyone can play this and derive any sort of enjoyment from it. The controls are sluggish and the screen seems to freeze, jerk or move as slow as molasses. I have a lightning fast PC and browser.

Perhaps the games is just experiencing temporary technical difficulties. I'll try again later.

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I'm lovin' the silhouette style. Very much a perfect execution of thought-provoking, heart-tugging emotion done in a simplified medium. My experience in spoilers. :)

I sensed some sort of hostility, a mistrust from the parents. But because of their children, I (well, the alien ;) ) regarded them in a slightly positive light, if not at the very least neutral. As I was torn down both emotionally and physically by the soldiers, I came to a set-in-stone frenzy to protect the family, and if not the family, the children at any cost. (I needed a purpose, or everything became pointless, so I latched on to the most ready idea.) The father was the first to go, then mother, and then older sibling. I protected them while they mourned for each other. I died after having successfully protected the youngest daughter, the one who had seen me first, branded me a friend, and had just been rather kind to me. Dead/dying under a quick snowfall, the girl sat down next to me and I can only assume died from the cold.

Some of these games seem to encompass entire novels. Brilliance in a virtual bottle, I swear.

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Kisekiko Author Profile Page July 10, 2010 10:43 PM

I keep trying to save the family, but nothing I try works! Can someone please help??

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I got the ending

Live, Live on for ever or immortal or something like that. I saved the whole family and never let them get hit.

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All possible combinations of Mother , Father ,daughter, son

M or F: Cry till death
S: Stop for a while then carries on
D: Plops and till death

SD: S carries on, D plops and till death (S+D)
MD: Cry till death (M+(-D))
MF (Couple): Same as MDFS except without S and D (MDFS-S-D)
MS: Same as MDFS except without F and D (MDFS-F-D)
FS: Same as MDFS except without M and D (MDFS-M-D)
FD: Same as MDFS except without M and S(MDFS-M-S)

MDF: Same as MDFS except without S (MDFS-S)
FDS: Same as MDFS except without M (MDFS-S)
MSF: Same as MDFS except without D (MDFS-D)
MDS: D cry till death, M cries for a while then carry on, S carries on (MS+(-D))
MSFD: M cries for a short while, then carries on, S stop for a short while then carry on, F stops for a while, and then carry on. D cries for a long time, then carry on

Interpretations:
S: Carry on no matter what
D: Can carry on as long F is also alive
M: Can carry on as long either males (S or F) is also alive
F: Carry on as long at least one family member is also alive

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gumus yuzukler August 24, 2010 4:01 PM

who who ever finished this?

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Turn back after getting shot at. Return to ship.

Leave.

Everyone stays alive.

Alien goes home after growing up and learning all it needs to know about humans.

Best ending.

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@Jomn

The girl will actually stay by the alien even if her brother and sister live (the dad died...oops). She froze.

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This is the most touching game I have ever played. It really makes you identify with the characters, probably because of the simple artwork. I love it.

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Just played this game. Its good and sad. The first ending i got is: the family was saved, the alien died.

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how do i use shield? oh, and @jelax have you heard of spoilers!? :D Like, really, thanks for just ruining it!

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im so confused... i hate when games give you only "shield block enemy fire." okkkkkkkkk, how? what am i supposed to do with that? i can therefore take no interpretation from this game becuase i cannot finish it... rawrgles!

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