To the Moon undoubtedly has to be one of the best games I have ever played. In all honesty, I am having a terribly hard time writing this reflection on this game that I finished nearly a year ago (back in July 2013). Considering I started working on this reflection in August 2013, I have procrastinated on this reflection after a string of excuses. The reason being, I have never become so attached to the story of a game where I felt emotionally exhausted nearing the game’s bittersweet ending. I felt a plethora of complex emotions that ranged from those that made me smile in nostalgic happiness to those that necessitated that I remind myself that this is only a game and that the characters and their experiences are only fiction. This game is like none other, a special find, one that I hold close to my heart and I deeply hope that this reflection can do it justice. The graphics and gameplay of To the Moon at first disappointed me and made me stray away from playing it; however, it was only after I received a gift copy of this game from a good friend that I intriguingly decided to take a dive into the pixelated world.
This game is a pixel graphic indie roleplaying adventure game set in the future where accessing one’s past experiences is possible. With this new technology comes a corporation, Sigmund Corp., which aids individuals on their deathbeds by fulfilling their last wish in the form of a dream. Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts employed by Sigmund Corp. are asked to complete the assignment of fulfilling the lifelong dream of the dying Johnny Wyles. Quickly, they soon realize that the task of fulfilling Johnny’s dream is not as simple as they initially would have hoped. Johnny’s dream is to go to the moon, but he does not know why. To understand the situation and help Johnny with this last task before he dies, the two doctors travel deeper into Johnny’s memories to uncover the reason for his dream to go to the moon. The two find themselves unraveling a mystery as they slowly discover more about Johnny’s desires, his past, and his deceased wife, River. Limited with time, they must work hard to send Johnny to the moon.
The beauty of this game comes from the plot, and the thought that is put towards the art, the music, and the writing make for an intricate masterpiece. The art was simple but effective. If the art was any different than the way it was presented, it may have taken away from the game’s plot and storytelling. The art added a layer of beauty to the storytelling but definitely did not take attention away from the emotional layers of the characters. The music was absolutely well composed and has received praise from many critics. The soundtrack album was composed by the talented Canadian composer and designer, Kan Gao. I went through multitude of ups and downs through experiencing the game as the emotional musical accompaniment artistically reflected the tone perfectly during each scene. And of course the writing and plot creation were exceptional. The main driving force for this game is the connection you feel with each of the characters, the two doctors trying to do their jobs and Johnny, who has endless stories both happy and sad to share.
This game reminded me almost of a movie, since it was an experience that takes you to an alternate world, but it took much longer than the average movie length and the player has the ability to completely submerge themselves in the environment of the characters. All in all, it was the characters’ stories and their experiences that I felt happiness and sadness for. This is not just another game I “played and completed”, it is one of those rarities where you “experience” the game for all that it is. If you are looking for your next well-paced, plot-driven, and not-action-intense game, then I highly recommend To the Moon. This game holds a special place in my heart and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did. Till next time, Yipeng