Cries well spent
Now I want to go to the moon
An out-of-place shooter near the end of the game
Some invisible obstacles makes movement a tad annoying
Now I want to go to the moon
Have you ever imagined of a device that can tap into one's memory and change what people remember of their past, even if it never happened? The very foundation of To the Moon lies on this very concept. During the opening minutes of the game, we are introduced to doctors Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts, specialists in using the device to tap into one's memory. To the Moon's ensemble of witty characters, poignant plot, amazing pace and incredible soundtrack will draw you into its own universe and brings you in a trip to the moon, a trip that you would not forget for years to come.
Throughout the game, you will be controlling one of two doctors Eva and Neil, travelling through their client John (called Johnny)'s past, unraveling and leading him to his ultimate goal in life: to go to the moon. Going to the moon is not a common wish and forgetting why a person has such a wish is even more uncommon. Without spoiling the game too much, you will spend the bulk of your time moving from Johnny's most recent memory to his oldest, helping us appreciate the powers of our earlier life and childhood and how one moment as a child can change our life along the way.
The swooning music only makes this trip to the moon even more believable. In a particular scene involving the player riding a horse, you will feel as excited as the characters are due to the excitement of the incredible music tingling our senses. During the vital moon-gazing scene, you will experience what few games have been able to do for so long, you might even have forgetten how to do it; how to cry. Long after the game has ended, you will remember the stellar music as the quintessence of the whole scene, making you choke each and every time you even so much as mention the moon-gazing scene.
Part of what makes this tale so charming, believable and heartrending is due to its ensemble of passionate characters, brimming with all sorts of different persona. Early on, you will be introduced to John and his caretaker's family. The two caretaker's kids are lovable characters, so adorable whenever they say okay as 'okey', and also them playing the tune taught by John perfectly on the piano. Other characters, such as River, are able to convey their emotions (or lack thereof) magnificently, questioning John as a kid whether or not being in the same theater, yet not sitting together, meant watching together or not. In a certain scene, John was called selfish, only to retaliate by saying that he has earned the right to be selfish. It is these scenes that make the characters alive: real conflicts, believable conversations and great delivery. The game is rich with such poignant moment, yet does not even border being a soppy games, part of it due to the charms and humours caused by characters such as the two good doctors whose lively banter exist to make the adventure livelier.
Despite the wealth of pros this game present, it does fail in some aspects, such as variety of gameplay and movement. Near the end of the game, you will need to play a shooter-esque level which feels all but proper in such a light-hearted, rarely violent (except for some squirrel killing) game. Another aspect of the game will include you gathering 5 clues and solving a basic puzzle to move on to another part of John's life. While we can complete the puzzles in as few steps as possible, there is little incentive for us to actually do it as there are no rewards for the extra effort. Movement, be it in John's seaside residence or the past, will contain invisible 'obstacles' that hinders your movement and interaction with the environment.
Despite some setbacks, To the Moon's 5 hours of gameplay is pure, unadulterated fun, filled with witty banters and it's share of poignant moments. You will no doubt be caught by surprise when the game seems to go into an RPG battle screen. In another scene, tears will start welling up when you finally discover what it is that drives John to want to make a trip to the moon, even on his dying breath. In either case, the characters involved are ones you would care for, as not only their conflicts are real, but also their joys, banters and even thoughts as not one bit of the game tries to be pretentious. The game, as a whole, is just like that: infinitely enjoyable, and not even an inch pretentious. You will love To the Moon for what it's for, not for what it tries to be.