"To the Moon" is an achievement in storytelling. It succeeds where so many games fail: it makes you feel. Whether it's making you laugh or making you cry, you're always feeling something, and you're falling in love with its characters a little more every minute. While it might not seem like much of game at times (and that is indeed one of the only valid criticisms that can be leveled against it), "To the Moon" is a game that deserves your attention.
"To the Moon" (TtM) is the story of two doctors who grant a dying man his last wish: he wants to go to the moon. They grant him this wish with a machine that lets him relive his life from the beginning in his mind; from birth up to the end, the doctors go through the events his life trying to change things in the hope that he'll end up rocketing to the moon. But at the end of this "new life", he'll die. And that's how the story takes off, if you'll pardon the pun. Or not. Your choice.
It's honestly a pretty simple, though some might say lacking, game on the surface. It's really just an adventure game (some would argue that it's more of a visual novel) that consists almost entirely of walking around and clicking on different items to progress the story. There's also lots of text to click through. Judged simply on its gameplay, TtM is nothing special. In fact, it might even seem kind of boring to those who crave action or difficult puzzles. There are some who would go so far as to say that there's so little interactivity it shouldn't be considered a game at all, and it's true that at its core it requires you to click on stuff and read through lots of text, since there's no voice acting at all. If that sounds like a nightmare to you, than maybe TtM is not the game for you. But if you don't mind a bit of reading, you'll find one of gaming's best experiences here, bar none.
TtM is a supremely powerful piece of art, and not just because it's pretty. It is pretty, though. Actually, charming might be a better word. The retro 32-bit art is a truly inspired style, but it's slightly ironic that the old-school feel inspired by its visuals is at such odds with its truly modern-feeling story. It's hard to believe that a story like this could have been told in a game twenty, ten, or even five years ago. Dealing with themes such as mental illness, the moments and people that define us, and childhood trauma in a truly sensitive and respectful way, TtM is in a class of its own, not just among video games, but among media as a whole.
Even the music is inspired, especially the absolutely incredible piano pieces and ending theme, and it's responsible for driving home a lot of the emotion in the game's most memorable scenes. I got the soundtrack in a bundle with the game, and every now and then I'll listen to one of the songs, just for kicks. Each time, I'm immediately pulled back to a moment in the game and I remember exactly how I felt in that moment, exactly what the characters were doing, exactly what I was thinking about. It's one of those things you just don't forget. It's just that good.
Maybe it seems like I'm overselling this game, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I think I've undersold the game so far. What I really want to say is: "Buy this game right now to save your immortal soul from an eternity of unsatisfied discontent. You will never truly live until you play this game, nor will you be able to truly die." There, that about sums up what I feel. To add to that, the game is only 10 bucks on Steam (12.49 for the soundtrack bundle, and trust me, that 2.49 is SO worth it), and you'll be supporting an insanely talented indie developer by picking it up! This is the kind of original, moving story we need more of in the gaming industry. Play it. You'll understand why.