Impostor Factory Review
The mix of tones between horror-comedy and pathos won’t be for everyone, but Impostor Factory is a thoughtful change from Freebird’s previous releases. The game challenges players to consider difficult moral questions, even beyond what previous Freebird games have asked about the nature of memories and the integrity of the mind.
Impostor Factory picks up both before and after Freebird’s previous games, dividing players into two groups. The first group is those who’ve played these titles before, including To the Moon and A Bird Story. The second group, which is more interesting, is those who haven’t played these games before, since it’ll be refreshing to see how they’ll respond to the dilemmas in the tale.
However, Impostor Factory is a standalone experience, and its weighty emotional climax will especially reward returning players with a complex sci-fi plot with ties to the previous games.
Horror, emotional comedy
You start with a classic story opening: some guy just shows up. As the unfortunate fellow, Quincy arrives at a fancy party, although he appears to be dressed casually. The hosts’ staff say he’s the first guest to arrive, but he runs into fellow guest Lynri when he goes upstairs. Then things start to get bloody when he finds the hosts gruesomely murdered. Or… are they? What unfolds is a slapstick horror comedy with Quincy at its centre. He runs around the house, confronted with gory scenes that grow more elaborate, which then suddenly vanish. He even begins to suspect the household’s little cat in an imaginative scene that made me laugh out loud.
But that’s just the beginning, because Quincy learns some truths that would change his perspectives on the events around him. This is when the game picks up a familiar mechanic from To the Moon and Finding Paradise: you explore scenes from someone’s memories in order to gather orbs that let you break through to the next area. These are sometimes more interactive and, at other moments, take the form of fleeting glimpses of memories that are seen only in passing. Freebird has always excelled at nonverbal cues.
Full of details
The styling in Impostor Factory is really inviting, with art that I enjoyed more than in any of the previous games. The game’s murder mystery is set in a beautifully creepy mansion complete with ramparts and mysteriously locked rooms. And in an homage to classic horror, the mansion reveals modern secrets hidden beneath its Victorian appearance. The grounds are also richly illustrated, including a dramatic temple of Apollo folly straight out of neoclassical England. The smooth character art and animation also remind me of Secret of Mana’s lush 16-bit pixel graphics.
Freebird games have always been funny in a gentle way that doesn’t clash with the games’ tender yet challenging emotional core. In Impostor Factory, the team has taken a big swing by including full-on horror, as well as a complex meta-story involving the nature of science and time itself. And the humor is both slapstick and risky, letting players release tension as they explore the gore and mind-bending moral conundrums posed by the game’s story. The boxing cat and the sentient rice cooker are a welcome bonus.