The Immortal is a good example of genres can be combined...take the puzzles of an adventure game and combine it with the reflexes needed for an action game, and you'd get this title.
Believe it or not, there is a plot to the game. The game opens when your mater wizard Mortimer mysteriously disappears, presumably into this dank dungeon. The intrigue begins right at the beginning of the game when you get a message from Mortimer...yet he calls you by the name Dunric. Everything further escalates when you find a ring with the name "Dunric" carved in it, within the possessions of a dead person. As you progress through the dungeon, you'll learn about a war between the goblins and the trolls, a fountain of life, and a hideous dragon that could destroy all.
There are a total of 7 levels in The Immortal, and everything is saved with a password function. The game is viewed from an overhead view, slightly titled at a 45-degree angle. You explore the dungeon, picking up items, solving puzzles, gaining clues and fighting. There are many dangerous traps lying around, like spikes, pits, flame throwers and God knows what else. You'll also have to battle the inhabitants of the dungeon, like the trolls and goblins. When you come in contact with them, the view will switch to an up-close camera where you will do battle.
You have two meters in these battle scenes: life energy and fatigue. If you swing your sword too much, you'll get weak and it will be hard to attack. Three types of attacks are available: swing left, swing right, and jab. You can also dodge left and right, as you can also wear down the enemy so he can't attack very well. Attacking full force, then learning to duck under the attacks of your opponent to regain strength is a valuable skill you need to learn if you want to get anywhere. Damage taken in battle carries over to the normal part of the game, where you can still be damaged by traps and bats.
This game has earned almost as infamous a reputation as Shadowgate when it comes to numerous deaths. Right in the first level, if you walk on the wrong tile (it is discolored) a worm will jump out and snack on you. Hidden fire traps can ignite you if you step too close. Accidentally using an item where you aren't supposed to can result in death. Searching a pile of bones too much will get you eaten by a slime. You only get three lives too...once you run out, you have to start the level from scratch. The levels usually aren't too long, but if you aren't careful, you may be playing them many times over.
The quality of the graphics depend on one's own personal taste. They are very well animated for a NES, but a bit grainy, plus everything looks very dark. Some things, like indentations to put stones in, are barely visible. The sound effects though are really good. Creatures give off a little scream when you attack, and the sword slashes are rather good. The music is really good, ranging from traditional medieval-type fare to a fast-paced battle theme.
The main gripe I have this game is that some of the puzzles don't rely much on actual thinking...they rely more on reflexes and luck than much skill. The first three levels are all excellently constructed and thought out, but the fourth level requires the mastery of a magic carpet, which is very hard to control. Level 5 has a room that you must navigate though using beeps on a sensor, but the detection is so edgy in this room, that I can't even get through it with a map. The final battle is downright frustrating, as it requires more trial and error than anything else.
When I first played the Immortal, I thought it would be a definite winner. The first three levels are really well designed, but it drops off from there. Still, it's a very fun and engrossing, if a tad bit frustrating, game. It could be a bit longer, but the difficulty will makes it last for awhile.