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