recroulette's To the Moon (PC) review

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"We are not here to play God..."

The story in a lot of games is an afterthought, merely glue to hold together the various gameplay elements or the backdrop to a training exercise for multiplayer. Freebird Games’ “To the Moon” flips this, the story is the main attraction, and the gameplay as the glue. For almost any other game, this is a recipe for disaster. Surprisingly, the story of “To the Moon” is worthy of being the main attraction and the actual game is the perfect supporting act. This combined with an art style that channels early console RPGs and a memorable soundtrack makes “To the Moon” an experience that is rarely seen in games today.

 The game is downright beautiful at times.
 The game is downright beautiful at times.
You are playing as doctors Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts. They work with an agency that is part Inception, part Make-A-Wish foundation. They grant the dying wish of their clients by altering their memories to make them believe that their wish is fulfilled.Their current client is Johnny, an elderly man whose wife River passed away a couple years back, and now he is on the deathbed himself. His last wish is a simple one, to go to the moon. Why? Well, even he doesn’t know. Regardless, it is up Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts to make his dream come true.  

“To the Moon” is a point and click adventure. Most of the time the gameplay is  simple, you will be searching for memory links, items that have relevance to Johnny. You need these memory links to break the barrier on a memento, items that allow you to jump farther back in time. The areas are small and there are never too many things you have to search for. It may be too simple for some people, but you will rarely be stuck in one area for far too long. Once you break the barrier on the memento, you’ll have to activate it with an very basic flip puzzle.  

 Don't expect to work your brain on these puzzles.
 Don't expect to work your brain on these puzzles.
This is the main pattern for the majority of the game, but sometimes you the game breaks out of the formula. It always seemed to be a refreshing pace when this happened. These moments are spaced out enough where it never feels forced, and outside of one late game segment, there are no parts of the game that require much effort, which could be a turnoff for some people. Luckily, the gameplay is nothing more than a tool used to tell this story.

This game has one of the best stories in recent history. All of the main characters are multi-dimensional. The doctors go from being all business one moment to joking around in the next. It all feels natural. I would even go the extra step and say they feel human. By the time you reach the end of the game, you may not like everyone, but you will be able to understand why they act the way they do. In the end all of the characters grow on you in one way or another.
Don't be fooled, the dialogue in this game is great, and only gets better as the game progresses
Don't be fooled, the dialogue in this game is great, and only gets better as the game progresses
The story has its emotional ups and downs. You already know the last parts of the story, so one would think that it would be hard to surprise the player by telling the story in reverse. Give credit to the people behind this game though, there are moments that come out of nowhere and hit harder than most games dare to try. If I had to compare it to something, I would say that I haven’t been affected by a game this much since the ending of Metal Gear Solid 3 (For the record, yes, there was a tear or two shed). I don’t think this is a story that will fade in a couple weeks like ones in most games.The game blends serious moments with humor almost perfectly. There are even a few laugh out loud moments. One coming during one of the emotional parts of the game, and not a bit of it felt forced. 

“To the Moon” is available on Freebird Games’ website. The actual gameplay time on my file was around 3:15, with the whole package bringing it to about four hours. Short for a $12 dollar game , but you can play the first hour for free. If you aren’t sold on it, you should at least try it out. For some of you who don’t care about the story in a game, this will not be for you. But it is a great story for any medium. Even though you probably have a full schedule of games you have to play, you should clear some time for this gem. You won’t regret it.

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