After Imposter Factory’s release delay from December 2020, I kind of lost track as to when it was due. Turns out? It was a few days ago. Steam kindly emailed me to let me know an item on my wishlist had launched. I was immediately in and buying when I saw what it was.

In the release chronology, this is ‘To The Moon 3’, and both trailers refer to it this way. Interestingly though, both in-game and at the end of the original trailer, it is referred to as ‘Episode X’ with an ellipsis between the Episode 2 entries and this one. So this part is being acknowledged as a full episode rather than a mini-episode but not necessarily as what will be an Episode 3 in in-universe time.

Without getting into spoilers — this did make sense by the end.

I do wish though that I’d replayed Finding Paradise (To The Moon 2), or at least read a recap of it before diving into this one. I had intended to, I had even gone so far as looking at setting up a Finding Paradise play-along, similar to what we did for To the Moon. There are almost certainly details I’ve forgotten that would have enriched the experience, given I completed Finding Paradise in December 2017 according to the singular Steam achievement.

Sink-based time-travel? It might just be a thing.

The main thing that put me off from replaying myself — let alone doing a full-on Play-Along — is that like To the Moon, it plays incredibly poorly on modern screens. Your choices are either fullscreen or a tiny, tiny, tiny window that cannot be resized.

So it is with the utmost pleasure that I can confirm Imposter Factory allows for window-resizing. It seems like such a small thing, but it improved the technical experience of playing the game on an ultrawide monitor to no end. Oh- and the Steam default screenshot key of F12 works as well. Happy days!

The other shift Imposter Factory makes over the two predecessors, that I personally appreciated, is the streamlining of the ‘gameplay’ elements. Not every screen requires you to find the memory items to bust down the barrier to the next area and where this is required, well, it’s not quite the pixel hunt it used to be. It always seemed clear what it was after and simply moving through the world was enough to get you the orbs required to continue.

Absolute win, in my view. Already I’ve seen the odd complaint, so I’ll be curious to see which way this debate ends up landing with the majority. My suspicion is that most will appreciate the ability to move through the story itself without quite so much friction.

As to the story itself, despite the regret I have in not more closely examining Finding Paradise again prior to jumping in here, I think I can still somewhat confidently say that this one didn’t hit as hard emotionally as either of the first two episodes in the series.

Not to say there were no moments of impact — but it seemed the focus this time around was more on providing certain answers and linkages to things we’ve encountered before — including in some of the minisodes.

Things this time around were more likely to provoke an ‘Aha!’ rather than a sob.

Reflecting back on Kan Gao’s (creator) older tweet on the nature of the first two games:

I wonder whether the question or theme of this one around the nature of reality is — does it really matter?

Honestly, if you’ve played the first two games — you already know whether you want to dip your foot into this one or not. I completed the game in under 5 hours so it certainly isn’t going to overstay its welcome. While not as emotionally impactful — in my opinion — as the first two, I was very pleased at least to see some of the story strands and unanswered questions from the original episode to start pulling together here.

If you’re coming to this fresh and looking for a recommendation — I would have to say to play the first two episodes first. If you have an ultrawide… I’m sorry. You could attempt to read a recap of the first two instead — but I strongly suspect any sort of emotional resonance (the main value in these games, in my opinion) would be greatly diminished if not entirely eliminated by not having ‘experienced’ the story yourself.

If the original games could somehow be updated to this latest iteration of the engine with nothing more than window-sizing being permitted, I’d be very happy indeed.