Once in a while, a game comes along that throws all expectations out the window, delivering an unforgettable experience that is unlike any other. To The Moon is one of those games - throwing the conventional topics that are usually present in most games, Freebird Games has developed an emotional roller coaster that will stay with you for weeks after the end credits roll. How does To The Moon express such emotional themes?
What To The Moon Got Right
Confronting themes - While most games seem to stay away from themes of sadness, regret, love and death, To The Moon embraces them all, which only plays to its strengths. From the opening scenes, right down to the very last moments, gamers will find themselves immersed in a very adult story that can at times be sad, at times quite funny, other times a little romantic, and ultimately very real.
The game kicks off with Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Rosaleane; two scientists who have the power to re-create memories through the use of some high-tech gear. They are called to the bedside of John, an elderly man who wants his dying wish to be realised - to go to the moon.
It is up to these two scientists to travel back through John’s memories, piecing them together and changing the course of his life so he can realise his dream before he dies. Along the way we are brought into good times and bad times of John’s life, which will certainly have you question the good and bad times of your own. It is through these though provoking moments that To The Moon creates a lasting impression.
Entertaining dialogue - Despite all these confronting themes, To The Moon can actually be quite funny. Normally the banter between the immature Dr. Wyatt and the level-headed Dr. Rosaleane will cause a few moments of laughter, and one scene in particular that involves a JRPG like battle with an evil Squirrel is quite hilarious. It’s through these dialogue scenes that the most emotive moments of the game are expressed, and Freebird Games have done a fantastic job writing those moments.
Visual and audio delight - To The Moon employs some fantastic 16-Bit graphics that scream retro appeal. Despite the heavy subject matter, the graphics seem perfect for the title, which should remind older gamers a little of Secret of Mana or even.The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past.
The real standout however is the original score, penned by the creator of the game. Sometimes dark, sometimes uplifting, this piano based soundtrack is a melodic treat, one that will keep you humming along for weeks.
What To The Moon Got Wrong
Will only appeal to certain gamers - If you don’t appreciate a story-driven game, then To The Moon won’t have much weight at all. If you’re chasing fast, paced action, you best look somewhere else.
Simplistic gameplay - To The Moon is a very easy game to play, which works in some respects, but it may feel a little light to some people. The main focus here is the story (which is fantastic by the way), but the gameplay mainly consists of minor exploration, a few clicks and not much else. It’s not a bad thing, but some people could feel out of place.
The Final Verdict
To The Moon employs an emotive narrative that cements it along the likes of Heavy Rain, leaving a lasting impression upon those who experience the six hours of intense story on display. Through well written, entertaining dialogue, a retro presentation and fantastic soundtrack, To The Moon will have you thinking about the experience of life itself.
By Stephen Heller