Impostor Factory Review: Kan Gao says it’s time to cry again!
“To the Moon was about seeking fantasy from reality, whereas Finding Paradise is about seeking reality from fantasy. Two sides of the same coin.”
Kan Gao’s sentimental RPG Maker masterpieces have received constant, unending praise from fans and critics alike, and yet somehow the series still feels underrated. To The Moon can bring a grown adult to their knees with one of the most tear-jerking twists out there, while Finding Paradise, admittedly less relatable by its creator, still packed an incredibly emotional punch.
But when Gao announced a third game in the series, I came back to his words about the previous two titles being two sides of the same coin. Honestly, the summation was a perfect explanation of both games — in fact, they could largely be reduced to those two concepts. Considering there’s, you know, two sides to a coin, I wondered for years how Gao would frame a third game in an otherwise clean dichotomy. Would Impostor Factory lean towards fantasy, reality, or find a balance therein?
Like the previous two games, Impostor Factory was also created in RPG Maker, its simplistic gameplay and pixel art roots par for the course. Unlike its previous games, Impostor Factory does not follow the stories of Neil Watts and Eva Rosalene, two familiar faces we’ve come to know and love. Instead, players will be taking on the role of Quincy, a good-natured guy who finds himself in the middle of a time-looping murder mystery. With multiple victims, a suspicious cat, and a ricebot that cooks the greatest rice known to mankind, surely Quincy will be able to get to the bottom of things and understand what’s happening at a clearly spooky and not-at-all normal mansion.
I refuse to say much more about Impostor Factory in terms of story because the less you know, the more of an emotional impact it’ll be while you play it. However, I will say that, while I cried many, many times throughout the game, I didn’t break down and sob like I did with To The Moon or the somewhat spiritually related Rakuen. It was honestly a bit of a roller coaster: charming writing that tugs at the heart strings, then a funny little well-written joke, followed by some dark pauses, a few cinematic scene changes, some informational text, another joke, more waterworks, then a beautiful scene to screenshot, only to repeat the process. It is insanity to me how few awards this man and his team has, they deserve all the praise for what they’ve accomplished.
When it comes to how it slots into the other two games… again, I don’t want to spoil much, but I will say you’ll need to play the first two to understand the importance of what’s happening in Impostor Factory. Fans of the series don’t need to be told twice to grab this game, but newcomers should play them in order and explicitly NOT start here. You could argue that it’s better to play To The Moon before Finding Paradise or that it’s okay to play Finding Paradise before To The Moon, but under no circumstances will Impostor Factory be better played before either title. There are also some DLC comics that add more context to both stories and their overarching world, and while they aren’t required reading to feel the emotional impact of Impostor Factory, that background serves to flesh out the bigger scope of the series, including this game.
Although I didn’t mind the lack of puzzles, I feel I must point out that the puzzles we’ve seen in previous titles simply do not exist here in Impostor Factory. As I was playing, I laughed a little bit realizing that gamplay is mostly “hit enter to cry.” A little bit like a kinetic novel or an 8-bit walking simulator, Impostor Factory asks extremely little of players except for the ability to read and some tissues. I will say that there is some high level reading in terms of quantum physics, philosophical meandering, and technical content, but it’s all explained in a way that should be readily understandable for those even slightly familiar with the subject material.
Impostor Factory offers yet another tear-jerking, emotional roller coaster with murder mystery flair. The very definition of bittersweet, Impostor Factory’s emotional climax will only make sense to those familiar with the series, so if this is your first foray into the franchise, please grab To The Moon and Finding Paradise first before diving into this sentimental adventure. Where To the Moon sought fantasy from reality and Finding Paradise sought reality from fantasy, Impostor Factory blends them together in a beautifully unexpected way, reminding us to live life while we have it. If you want a wonderfully well-written story with fully fleshed out characters and thoughtfully choreographed scenes that feel charmingly cinematic, please play Impostor Factory (after To The Moon and Finding Paradise, of course!).
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Kan Gao; Developer: Kan Gao; Players: 1; Released: September 30, 2021; MSRP: $9.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Impostor Factory purchased by the reviewer.