*Warning: This may contain minor spoilers*
Freebird Games’ To The Moon is one of those games that I didn’t really know what to make of at first, but I gradually became more intrigued by each passing hour.
The game itself is very short. I probably completed it anywhere between 4-6 hours, I believe. I don’t rush when I play games, but I also don’t just play them at a snail’s pace, either, so I would say that’s about the average time for most people.
To The Moon‘s premise is simple and easy to understand. You start off by playing as two different scientists named Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Roseleane. They specialize in altering people’s memories to give their client the outcome they desire, that second chance to be able to relive their life, if only just inside his or her mind. They’re almost like the ‘Make A Wish’ foundation, in a way. Their client in the game is a dying man named John. He wishes for them to be able to go into his mind and convince his younger self to want to become an astronaut and to not wander away from that path. So begins their, and our, journey into John’s past and memories.
We start off by seeing his memories from a few years prior to him becoming bedridden and work our way back toward him as a young child, trying to piece everything together. It was a different gaming experience for me since I would see the results before seeing the causes.
I’ll talk about the gameplay first. I have to admit that it is very weak. The graphics are created in a 16-bit style, which I found to be pretty adorable, but the controls were super funky at times. I’m not sure if it was just me, but I had a slightly difficult time every once in a while trying to move around. I eventually became used to the controls, even if they were very limited. There really wasn’t much to do gameplay-wise. A majority of the time was just spent walking to and from places or finding items/objects that were needed to progress into the next memory. Honestly, it just felt like it was a long version of those interactive cutscenes we come across every so often. That’s it; simplicity at its finest.
There is absolutely no voice acting throughout its entirety, but the soundtrack they used fits the storyline so perfectly. I almost thought that it would be insulting if I turned down the volume or didn’t properly listen to it. Each arrangement/piece complemented whatever scene or memory you were currently ‘playing’ through.
I’ve already established that this game has very poor gameplay, but guess what? That doesn’t matter at all. “Whoa, whoa, wait BlameSaiki… Don’t we mostly play video games for the experience of the gameplay?” Well, let me just say that the only reason to play this game is for its story. The sole reason for me to keep playing was just to see how the story would unfold.
Now, I will refrain from saying anything specific about the story because I don’t want to spoil any of the twists, turns, and surprises that it has to offer. However, I can say that from time to time, I found the story to be a bit clichéd and perhaps a bit too sappy for my liking, but it just does such a great job of touching up on subjects that have become a bit more sensitive in our society: life, death, gain, loss, struggle, pain, and happiness.
As you play through John’s past/memories, you start to relate more toward Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Roseleane. In the beginning, they’re very comical and almost have an “another client, another dollar” type of attitude. But the deeper into his mind they traveled, the more invested they became in him and the desire to help him grew. The same exact thing happened to me. In the beginning, I thought, “Okay, this shouldn’t take too long,” not thinking much about the story or characters and just wanting to add another game to my completed list. But as I traveled through some very pleasant memories, as well as, some very sad and unsettling events/moments, all I could think about was “Please let his wish come true.” At that point I wasn’t even playing anymore; it was almost like I was just watching everything unfold. To say the least, if I would’ve been playing this game alone, I would have undoubtedly shed enough tears to probably make me feel like I was drowning. But alas, I wasn’t and, to this day, I still don’t know how I didn’t.
Would I recommend this game? No doubt about it. The emotional roller-coaster you go through after putting yourself through all of John’s memories is well worth dealing with the minor flaws. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend re-playing it. There’s honestly no point to it unless: 1.) You’re the type of person that loves to re-live stories (I’m like that, too, so don’t feel bad if you are), or 2.) You’re showing it to somebody else who hasn’t come across it yet. Otherwise, one play-through is more than enough to provide you with the full experience.
I give this game a 9/10 because of it’s well-written and overwhelmingly charming story that sticks with you even months after you’ve already finished it.