The Morrison Game Factory is a narrative puzzle adventure that blends board games, escape rooms, and interactive fiction. New and experienced players alike will enjoy progressing through a charming story packed with puzzles and physical materials.
Number of Players: 2
Time Taken: 2 Hours
Date Played: October 2023
Spoiler Warning: This review mentions key plot elements of The Morrison Game Factory.
So, it turns out we’re big fans of PostCurious – a revelation that came frankly far too late in my ‘puzzle life’, when I think about all the years I was just out here like, never having played a PostCurious game before. I mean, did I really even know what a good puzzle game was until now, hmm. But now I know there’s only one thing to do about this fact, and that is play every single PostCurious game I can get my hands on as quickly as possible. So what’s a better way to ‘catch up’ on the catalogue than play the newest PostCurious games before it even launches! Wait what?! Well, this week on The Escape Roomer we were super lucky and incredibly grateful to be sent a copy of The Morrison Game Factory, a brand new Kickstarter game from the puzzletale creators.
The Morrison Game Factory is a sweet little puzzle game, a little shorter than the others from PostCurious but no less brilliant. It’s a powerful story, and one set in it’s namesake factory centred around a ‘board game printing machine’ that gains sentience. It also gets to go down in my private hall of fame as one of the only games which made me tear up. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a lonely little sentient robot. Move aside A.I. and Wall E, 3248 is my new favourite lonely robot.
But first, a little background on the game and it’s creators.
The Morrison Game Factory, A Background
A while back I wrote an article on marketing tabletop puzzle games on Kickstarter, it was published on Medium but there’s a version here on The Escape Roomer. One of the most interesting (though perhaps not surprising) things I found was how prolific PostCurious is on Kickstarter. They’ve built up an incredibly solid fanbase over the years and now we’re at the point where a PostCurious game is guaranteed to fund within the first 24 hours, and probably go 200, 300% higher than that by the end. After a successful ‘remaster’ of Tale of Ord earlier this year, the latest Kickstarter launch is a collaboration game titled The Morrison Game Factory. This is probably where it gets quite interesting, because this would make The Morrison Game Factory is a new breed of PostCurious game. One not directly created by Rita Orlov, the company founder – but one designed by someone else and published under the label. It marks a bold and exciting new move for the company, and after playing this game, a trend I hope will continue and lead to even more brilliant games being made in the future.
Because, where The Morrison Game Factory really shines is in it’s story… And is that really surprising since the game’s collaborator is the popular Nebula-nominated Lauren Bello (a TV writer best known for her work on Apple TV+’s Foundation and Netflix’s The Sandman)? I suppose not! And it just goes to show what a powerful collaboration this is, and how much care and attention PostCurious put into picking a game to publish that just fits so well with their others. It’s true, it took me by surprise just how brilliant the story was – but that just served to remind me of how important story has been this far with the other games I’ve played by the same company. It’s safe to say that PostCurious really put the ‘puzzle’ in their self described ‘puzzle tale’ title.
@mairispaceship unboxing a new kickstarter board game: The Morrison Game Factory by PostCurious 👏 #boardgame #boardgames #kickstarter #kickstartergame ♬ Cafe / video cute lofi ♪ Chill(885831) – ImoKenpi-Dou
(please note, the above video was recorded before we played!)
Meet 3248, The Morrison Game Factory’s Sentient Computer
Now, there isn’t a huge amount of information on this game on the internet so far, so I’m going to describe the game with as few spoilers as possible. But I think it’s not possible to explain it without introducing the main character: 3248. 3248 is the technical name for one of the board game printing machines at the Morrison Game Factory, the game’s narrator, and it’s principle character.
The game opens with a letter from an unknown source, inviting you to investigate the Morrison Game Factory – an old abandoned factory. There, waiting on a conveyor belt and freshly printed was this very game you hold in your hand. It quickly becomes apparent that nobody left this game for you – no, it was printed after the factory was abandoned, by one of the very machines within it. A real mystery, and a real puzzle to solve. What follows is a dive into the past – the history of the factory, it’s workers, and it’s machines, as we retrace the breadcrumbs left behind across meeples, boards, locked boxes, and components from scattered board games past.
It’s a story about friendship, but also about loneliness… And it’s told through the actions you take and through the story you read. Yes, reading. So, there is quite a bit of reading to do in this game- not necessarily within the box itself, but more on the side of the web portal as the game unfolds. You’ll have to recover memories and read through in order to both advance the story and also understand what to do in the game. But despite my saying “quite a bit”, it’s also somehow simultaneously the “exact right amount of words” to tell a perfect story. The characters so believable, the story so happy and so heartbreaking. It’s *chefs kiss*
Puzzles Vs Storyline
So, let’s talk about those puzzles then.
The game is gentle in it’s puzzling. I won’t lie, we did use more than a few hints to get through it – but at no point did we feel lost about what to do. The hints were delivered in character and were helpful and straightforward with steps and instructions. As such the general lower level of difficulty, thorough signposting, and straightforward hints mean it’s probably a game quite suitable for a more generalist audience. The Kickstarter recommends the game for an audience of 14+. In my particular playthrough, I played it with my 14 year old brother, who absolutely loved the puzzles and the story. I think it would really depend on the child – but I found that neither the puzzles nor the story contained anything that would be difficult for a younger audience, except that the tale itself is complex and nuanced. But each to their own.
In terms of the styles of puzzles, it erred on the side of the logic style of puzzle I recognise from other PostCurious games – though that may be confirmation bias on my part. I notice logic style puzzles because frankly, I love them. I mean, I’m literally currently working on a videogame where the central puzzle style is the kind of “if this, then that, but not that” puzzle I can’t get enough of. So when they pop up in games I notice them.
Besides logic puzzles, there were also some fantastically delightful moments hidden in puzzles too. Think ‘showstoppers’. One in particular prompted some external materials in a moment of what I can only describe as pure science delight – resulting in us both gathering round the table and gasping in delight. I think these moments of puzzle-light but spectacular-heavy really pull a game like the Morrison Game Factory together nicely.
I will say that in our particular playthrough we encountered two minor, minor issues. One of them was a print error which has already been corrected for the general sale of the gamet. The second is that the game does require making a US phone call which did cause us some issue, being all the way over here in the UK. After some googling we couldn’t figure out an easy way to make the call other than… Well, the obvious… Just phoning it and paying the $$. We made the call as quick as we could, recorded it from another device, and hung up as fast as we could. It cost £0.16 on my phone plan (~$0.20). Not breaking the bank, but I only mention it as I know a lot of international phone plans don’t allow for international calls. There is a warning about this on the Kickstarter page, and the promise of a workaround if you’re unable to call the number – but it’s just worth keeping in mind!
The Morrison Game Factory has been one of my favourite games, at least so far in 2023. Which is saying a lot, since it’s already the end of October and I don’t think there’s anything else on my to-play pile that will pip it.
So why The Morrison Game Factory? For me, it’s the perfect blend of puzzles and story in a high quality box that is packed with retro illustrations, fun little meeples, and curious things to discover. I’d recommend this game for just about anyone, and if you’re reading this whilst the Kickstarter is still alive I implore you to back it.
Please Note: We were sent an early copy of The Morrison Game Factory to review ahead of the Kickstarter. As such, we weren’t charged for our experience. There also may be small differences between the version of the game we played, and the final print production edition. We’ve taken lengths to ensure that this does not affect the content of our review.