Here’s a cute date idea if you are in a relationship with another gamer- snuggle up and play ‘To The Moon’ on Steam. It’s an indie adventure RPG made by Freebird Games about two doctors who fulfill a dying man’s wish by reconstructing his memories. I love the concept of the game, and it does not take very long to finish the game.
Over the weekend, the boy and I decided to give ‘To The Moon’ a try, and here is what we thought of it. Take heed; there will be spoilers.
Let’s start with the game’s weaker points and build up to its strongest aspects.
First of all, this game was made on the RPG Maker XP engine to give it that old school Final Fantasy-esque feel so do not start this game expecting shiny graphics. In fact, there were a number of times we noticed tearing and some of the sprites just looked like they were mauled or crushed in some way. There are a number of things that are quite beautiful about this game, but noticing these details so obviously ever so slightly detracts from the experience.
Second, think of the phrase “adventure RPG” in very loose terms. I never really got a sense that we were really exploring a world. Like Dr. Neil Watts and Dr. Eva Rosalene, your movements through the game are restricted to the specific memories you are currently visiting, and the game progresses in a very simple, straight-forward manner without much wiggle room for deviation. There’s no inventory to manage, no currency system, no party system, no battle system. There is, however, one joke battle with a squirrel in which you have the option of throwing your shoe at it (but nothing happens). This is a very story-centric game.
However, being very story-driven is also this game’s strong points. Expect this game to be more like a visual novel (with some puzzles thrown in there) but ultimately, the ending is already decided for you. I don’t think you can actually lose at this game…except if you choose to simply terminate the game before you finish it. You get to enjoy a very cute story that unfolds, and it will go and hit you RIGHT IN THE MOTHER EFFING FEELS.
At first, you might think “Huh, why do I care? What is going on with all of these creepy origami rabbits? What’s the deal with that toy platypus? Why the heck is ROADKILL a memento?” And you might even be a little turned off by all of the pop culture reference bombs getting dropped everywhere– seriously, there are a lot of references made that I find distracting from the main story.
But then you find out more about River and her relationship to Johnny. You see them ride horses together; you see their wedding. This game is all about love.
MAJOR SPOILER, River and Johnny met at a carnival as children, stargazing. Looking at the stars, they see a rabbit in the stars with the moon as its belly. When Johnny has to leave, they promise to meet again at that spot the very next year…but if for some reason the two of them should not meet, they promise to regroup on the moon.
Your heart utterly breaks as you realize the meaning behind all of the origami rabbits River had made as she got older–“Do you notice anything else?” She remembered their childhood meeting while he did not. Your broken heart gets smashed to bitty pieces when you come to fully understand Johnny’s dying wish to go to the moon. He doesn’t want to actually go to the moon. He wants to GO TO RIVER.
But the job at hand features the problem of the literal versus the figurative. Literally, Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene have to change Johnny’s memories to put him on the moon, but figuratively, he wants River.
Dr. Rosalene hijacks control away from Dr. Watts in a seemingly horrifying twist (and there is the nod to Plants v. Zombies thrown in), but everything ends up working out perfectly in the end. Dr. Rosalene is able to alter Johnny’s memories in three ways: 1) His dead twin brother, Joey, is kept alive and becomes a writer. (Oh yeah, dead twin, that’s another SPOILER) 2) Johnny goes to NASA. 3) Johnny meets River at NASA, and they fly to the moon…together.
And the song that Johnny wrote for River ALSO gets completed. He initially titles it “For River” as a “placeholder” in his original memories, but in his altered memories, the song title becomes “To The Moon,” and gives you ultimate warm fuzzies inside.
The other highlight of the game? THE MUSIC.
Ultimately, I give the game a 6.5/10. Thumbs up! Great date idea, cheaper than a crappy romance film in the theater, and got us both misty-eyed and happy at the end. That is saying something special about this game because we do not get misty-eyed terribly easy.