To the Moon is a story-based adventure game released on November 1st, 2011 by Freebird Games. The game tells the story of Eva and Neil, two doctors using unnamed technology to enter a patient's memories to grant his wish. Along the way the story unfolds about the patient and his wife throughout their life and why he wants to go to the moon.
While the game is described as an Adventure\RPG, the RPG part only applies to the art direction which is very reminiscent of the 16-bit RPGs. The gameplay itself mostly consists of acquiring the mementos necessary to travel to the next memory, while learning more about the story.
Aside from acquiring mementos through pixel-hunting, there are a number puzzles needed to be completed to move into the next memory. The puzzle is a 5 x 5 square box with 25 tiles that all need to be on one side to be completed. Each puzzle has an "ideal" number of moves to complete the puzzle in. The number is the minimal amount of moves needed. During the course of the game one-time used gameplay mechanic, such as a shooter sequence near the end, will happen.
The game is set in the near future where an unnamed technology is invented that allows people to enter the memory of others while sleeping. This technology, develop by Sigmund Corp, makes artificial memories that stays with the person forever. This technology is mostly used to grant wishes to people. However it is only used with people close to death, since making artificial memories causes conflicts inside the mind and permanently damages the person.
The story starts with Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts, a senior memory traversal agent and a technician specialist, respectively, currently working at Sigmund Agency Of Life Generation for Sigmund Corp. They are going to the house of John "Johnny" Wyles for their next job to fulfill his wish. After running over a squirrel and crashing the car, Eva and Neil arrive and meet the caregiver, her two kids, and the doctor currently looking after John. While one doctor gets the technology ready, the other one learns a little more about John by exploring the house and lighthouse nearby with the kids, most important of which is rooms filled with white paper rabbits, one of which is blue with a yellow stomach. After exploring the area, Eva and Neil are ready to enter John's memories.
When they enter John's oldest memory, they learn via John that his wish is to go to the moon. John does not have a good reason for wanting to go to the moon forcing Eva and Neil to travel memory by memory to when John was a child.
It is learned that John's wife, River, who passed away two years prior needed surgery to survive. River refused so John had enough money to finish building their new house so John can keep looking after "Anya" after River passes away. It is also revealed that River is the one making the paper rabbits. While making the rabbits, River would ask what they are and River would keep asking what else after every answer John said. The next memory revealed that the lighthouse is actually Anya.
Memories with John talking to River's sister show that River and her sister have a disorder which is why River is always aloof. On the memory that is John and River's wedding, the two found a rabbit killed by a car on the road next to their wedding by the lighthouse. The next memory is where John learns that River has Pervasive development disorder. During John's teenage memories, it is showed that John first meets River in high school and asks her out on a date. While in high school, River still has a toy platypus, which is seen multiple times with River before.
After getting a glitch in the system when trying to get to John's child years, Eva and Neil stop at John's early teenage years and insert the desire of getting to the moon into John's dream. However the desire did not take and John has not change. After changing numerous memories, John has still not change and Eva and Neil call quits for the night.
The next morning, after a phone call with headquarters Neil learns John had a large dose of beta blocker while he was a child, which dampen memories and is why Eva and Neil could not go into John child memories. Eva and Neil figure using smell to open up John's child memories and that using the dead squirrel Neil kill while driving is the best way. With John's health quickly fading, the doctor determined this will be their last chance to do this.
In John's child memories, they see John get hit by a car while his mother was backing out of the driveway. However, it was actually John's twin brother, Joey, who was hit which explains why John had his memory dampen with beta blocker.
During a earlier memory at the carnival, John went exploring by himself and came to a cliff to gaze at the stars. A young River soon appears and both start talking about the stars. River explains that the stars look like lighthouses shining at her and that she wants to befriend one. They also made a rabbit out of the stars, with the moon being the belly. When River ask what he saw, John answer the ears and feet and when she ask what else one more time he answer "And... And the moon!!" "The moon is its big round belly!!" Before John has to leave, he gives River the platypus he won at the whack-a-mole game and agrees to meet her at the same place, same time next year and if they get lost, to meet up at the moon.
At this point, Eva and Neil have conflicting opinions on what to do. Eva wants to stick to the contract and get John to the moon by removing River from Johns memory. Neil wants to avoid removing River because they know why John wants to get to the moon. Even after Neil tries to stop Eva by avoiding Eva traps, Eva is successful in removing River from Johns teenage memories.
Going through John's memories after removing River, Neil learns Eva made Joey live as a kid and grew up with John doing everything John did with River but with Joey this time. Joey goes on to be a famous author like his dreams were when he was a child and John becomes a astronaut. While touring NASA after being accepted as a candidate to be a astronaut, John meets River who is also becoming a astronaut and Neil learns Eva just move River later on John's memories, not removing her completely.
After getting marry and going to the moon together, John and River retires and build the house by the light house together. Eva and Neil allows the caretaker and the doctor to come in Johns memory to watch the shuttle launching to the moon with John and River inside. When the shuttle launchs, John passes away in real life. In the real world, the caretaker was left the house by the lighthouse and Eva and Neil leave to go to their next patient. Before leaving the screen, Neil goes through pain and takes a painkiller, same one Neil said are for when he walked into a wall, before leaving. A black screen comes up the words "Episode 1: To the Moon" and a check mark, implying a sequel will be made.
(To the Moon) Holiday Special Minisode
(To the Moon) Holiday Special Minisode is a 20 minute free add that takes place after To the Moon and foreshadows elements in the sequel. It's the end of the year at Sigmund Corp and the holiday party is happening. After a fail attempt at a prank, Neil does some finishing touches on a project while Eva goes to the party. After talking to everyone at the party and learning that the protesters are outside again, Eva returns and Neil reveals a game he made based on the events of To the Moon. After finishing most of the game, Eva quits and walk away. When Neil goes to find her they talk about the moral of their jobs and if the protesters are right. When Neil convinces Eva to finish the game, Neil gets a call for their next patient and the Minisode ends looking at the protesters in front of the building.
A large portion of the minisode is the Eva playing the game Neil made. The game is a maze adventure with heads of the characters in To the Moon. The player controls a head of Neil and needs to collect mementos from John, River, and other character while avoiding zombie Eva's. Most of the maze is made of locations or items from To the Moon.
- The inspiration for To the Moon came from the creator, Kan Gao, seeing his grandfather in hospital after having heart surgery. Other inspirations from media include Eternal Sunshine, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Memento.
- The game took a year and a half to finish.
- The game uses the RPG Maker XP engine.
- Even though NASA is in the game, Kan Gao views the game as being in an alternate universe.
The game features an original sound track by Kan R. Gao (featuring Laura Shigihara) consisting of 31 tracks, most of which are piano pieces. The soundtrack can be listened to and purchased via Freebird's website.
- To the Moon - Main Theme 04:56
- Between a Squirrel and a Tree 01:18
- Spiral of Secrets 01:06
- For River - Piano (Sarah & Tommy's Version) 02:58
- Bestest Detectives in the World 01:15
- Too Bad So Sad 00:08
- Teddy 00:42
- Uncharted Realms 01:08
- Having Lived 01:21
- Moonwisher 02:10
- Born a Stranger 01:41
- For River - Piano (Johnny's Version) 01:39
- Lament of a Stranger 01:05
- Everything's Alright (Music Box) 00:40
- Moongazer 02:15
- Anya by the Stars 02:15
- Take Me Anywhere 00:59
- Warning (AKA best track ever) 00:09
- Beta-B 01:06
- World's Smallest Ferris Wheel 00:35
- Once Upon a Memory 02:25
- Once Upon a Memory (Piano) 01:35
- Laura Shigihara - Everything's Alright 03:25
- Everything's Alright (Reprise) 00:58
- Tomorrow 02:10
- Launch 01:57
- To the Moon - Piano (Ending Version) 05:15
- Eva's Ringtone 00:04
- Trailer Theme - Part 1 01:43
- Trailer Theme - Part 2 (feat. Laura Shigihara) 01:49
- Trailer Theme - Part 2 (Instrumental) 02:00
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows XP
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 @ 1.5 GHz / AMD Athlon XP 1500+
- Memory: 64 Mb
- Hard Drive: 100 Mb free
- Video Memory: 64 Mb
- Video Card: DirectX Compatible
- Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
- DirectX: 9.0c
- OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 @ 2.0 GHz / AMD Athlon XP 2200+
- Memory: 1 Gb
- Hard Drive: 100 Mb free
- Video Memory: 128 Mb
- Video Card: nVidia GeForce FX 5500 / ATI Radeon 9500
- Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
- DirectX: 9.0c