While combing through the ruins of an abandoned game factory, an urban explorer stumbled across a box sitting on the factory’s conveyor belt. Curious, they tried to piece together why the box was sitting there, but couldn’t puzzle out what was going on…so, they forwarded the box over to you, the player. Can you figure out what happened at the Morrison Game Factory, and complete the task hidden within?
The Morrison Game Factory is PostCurious’ newest puzzletale, with a crowdfunding campaign that went live on Kickstarter earlier today. ARGNet has reviewed a number of PostCurious games in the past, featuring stories ranging from alchemical experiments, a tarot-driven journey through the woods, and an ethereal journey through a dream world. And while the visual aesthetics and themes of each game change, PostCurious games revel in delivering an intensely tactile experience, both as a puzzle-solving experience, but also as a vector for storytelling. When playing the tarot-based Light in the Mist, players uncover what happened to their missing friend by laying out tarot spreads. When Adrift directs players to engage in oneirology, players pore over artistic renderings of dreams to find meaning in chaos. And after playing a review copy of the game, I can enthusiastically say The Morrison Game Factory continues to deliver on that promise.
Morrison Game Factory Delivers Modern Puzzling with a Classic Aesthetic
That commitment to delivering an intensely satisfying tactile experience follows through with The Morrison Game Factory. Gameplay revolves around board game components and ephemera pulled from a nostalgic board gaming past that hearkens back to heated game nights of Parcheesi with the family. And that translates mechanically in the puzzling: placing tiles, rolling dice, and rifling through a deck of cards all factor into the experience. But you might also find yourself flipping through handwritten maintenance logs, the company’s product catalog, or…other elements, that unfold over the course of the game.
The fact that The Morrison Game Factory continues to deliver such a satisfyingly tactile puzzling experience is notable because this is the first PostCurious game with a different lead designer at the helm. While company founder Rita Orlov was the lead designer on past PostCurious games, Lauren Bello was at the helm on The Morrison Game Factory: and while it is clearly a PostCurious game, the unique spin Bello takes on that theme is also evident.
Morrison Game Factory: PostCurious’ Most Story-Forward Game Yet?
While Lauren Bello has been active in the immersive scene for quite some time, she is best known for her work as a writer for television shows like Sandman and Foundation. And that comes through in the execution of The Morrison Game Factory. Puzzles are structured to be tackled in a linear fashion. Making it past set milestones unlocks blocks of narrative that help to explain what happened within the company, and why the box was left for someone to find.
However, all of this is done in a way that makes perfect sense within the rules of the game’s universe. There is a reason why the box was left where it was. There is an explanation behind everything you find. And as a masterstroke of foreshadowing, much of these answers are provided the moment players open the box. Players just need the additional context provided through the puzzle solving process to put the pieces together, and figure out what they can do about it. And that prominence of story isn’t just a surface level thing: a number of tasks treat reading comprehension as potential puzzle fodder.
The result? A heartfelt game that came close to bringing tears to my eyes a few times.
In order to deliver that story-forward gameplay experience, The Morrison Game Factory did make one fairly large change to “traditional” PostCurious gameplay. Prior PostCurious games operated as self-contained experiences: unless players needed to reference the game’s comprehensive online hinting systems, everything needed to solve the game is provided in the box. The Morrison Game Factory‘s online component is more integral, directing players to engage with specific components. On the plus side, this “out of the box” thinking also allows for a few moments that would be particularly satisfying to alternate reality gaming fans. Making the online component an integral part of gameplay also helped make the game forgiving for its players. At one point of the puzzletale, there’s a fairly intensive logic puzzle: after entering the solution into the website, the configuration is stored in the interface for future reference, saving future headaches.
Morrison Game Factory Funding and a Potential Future for PostCurious
The Kickstarter campaign for The Morrison Game Factory is currently live, and will be running through November 16th. The base game will be retailing for $39, making it one of PostCurious’ more affordable offerings. As is tradition, the campaign will feature a puzzle trail of its own to whet your appetite and give prospective players a taste of things to come.
This could also be a sign of things to come for PostCurious’ future: as Rita Orlov explained,
If this project turns out to be a success, I think it could open the door to more potential collaborations with independent creators who might design a great game but don’t want to self-publish…PostCurious could have the opportunity to leverage the knowledge and relationships the company has built over the last few years and take on a developmental role, bringing more quality creations to life, as well as establishing itself as a curated brand that isn’t just the creation of one mind, but the coming together of the best aspects of many.Rita Orlov, PostCurious
The Morrison Game Factory provides a clear outline for the benefits of that kind of partnership, mixing a creator’s unique sensibilities with PostCurious’ design sensibilities and ability to bring products to market, so I am hopeful that door opens wide.