Do you remember playing video games back in the day? Do you remember when there were no checkpoints, saved games, and when the game was set on the "hard" difficulty, it really meant it? Do you remember when video games were actually a challenge? Well, look no further, because The Immortal is possibly one of the hardest games on the planet.
The story is about an old wizard who's looking for his mentor, and gets suckered into a balls-hard dungeoneering quest to do so. Along the way he meets a few people, gets into a few tedious fights and has to solve puzzle after puzzle repeatedly until he gets it right. Basically, the gameplay is fundamentally simple: solve puzzles, fight monsters yadda yadda. You basically are handed every item you need right away when you start, or right before the puzzle begins. Some puzzles are slightly tricky, requiring a bit of trial and error (usually error, more on this in a minute) to get it right, but they typically are nothing to get upset about.
The fighting is less than inspired. I was reminded of Mike Tyson's Super Punchout on the NES. When you get roped into a battle, the screen changes to show you and your foe locked into combat. You can't fight more than one guy at a time (thank heaven for small favors), and the fights are ridiculously easy. All enemies who attack this way favor a left-right combination, which is overcome by dodging to the opposite side. Some enemies can take more hits, some less. You can also get monsters to fight sometimes, making things slightly easier for you, but this is rare. The enemy gets tired, and swings slower and slower, allowing you to get hits in. But, the downside is, the same holds true for you. The fights are more boring than anything else, but most enemies have a pretty sweet death animation, such as head explosions, skin liquifiying, etc, which is the sole reason to get into a fight. Other monsters simply kill you in one hit, adding pressure on you not to die.
In fact, The Immortal is a very bloody game, way ahead of its time in that respect. Aside from killing your enemies, there are a myriad of ways for you to die in this game. The developers have packed more ways to kill you in one tiny corridor than is really necessary. At times you'll be like "Come on! Really?! You just killed me!" and then it's back to the beginning of the level.
The Good: Very little of this game is good. The myriad of fatalities you can perform on your enemies, and the sheer number of deaths in store for you, the hapless consumer, is enough to pique your curiosity to try and see how many you can count. The graphics are fairly good, and theres quite a bit of detail in the death animations.
The Bad: Holy crap where do I begin? The story line is adequate, but hardly interesting. At times I wanted to backtrack to the beginning to see if I could leave, because the whole quest seemed stupid and hardly worth it, but alas. The combat is boring, and the onslaught of "To hell with the player" moments make for a anti-fun experience. You'll hate yourself for wanting to play The Immortal, let alone buy it.
The Skinny: Look, if your a glutton for punishment, or simply want to own this game to brag about it, more power to you. Anyone who finds it fun needs serious psychiatric help.