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 allows people to enter the memories of others while unconscious. This technology, developed by Sigmund Corp, manipulates memories; these manipulations leave a lasting impression on the subject. This technology is mostly used to "grant wishes" to people; during the setting of the game's world, however, it's only used per the wishes of the terminally ill, as manipulating these 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 the dying John "Johnny" Wyles to fulfill his last wish. After running over a squirrel and crashing the car, Eva and Neil arrive and meet the caregiver Lily, her two kids, and the medical 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 are 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.
Upon visiting John's oldest memory, they encounter John's memory of himself and learn that his wish is to go to the moon. Unfortunately, the apparition can't give them a strong enough motivation for wanting to go to the moon. Sigmund Corp's technology works by emphasizing the motivations of the patient, allowing the patient's mind to reform memories in order to fulfill the wish. Since John cannot provide any reasons or motivations, Eva and Neil must hop backwards through John's memories to when John was a child, in hopes of uncovering something that can serve as a catalyst.
Eva and Neil learn that John's wife, River, needed surgery to survive a debilitating illness which she ultimately succumbed to two years prior to the present. River refused treatment so that John would have enough money to finish building their new house, a project the both of them began so that John could looking after someone named "Anya" after River's death. It is also revealed that River is the one making the paper rabbits. While making the rabbits, River would quiz John on what they are, continuing to follow up with further questions after every answer John gave; John would ultimately become exasperated as he was never sure about the answers River was looking for. The next memory revealed that the lighthouse is actually Anya.
Memories with John talking to River's sister, Isabella, show that River and her sister have an unknown disorder that contributes to River's aloof and seemingly disconnected behavior. During the memory of John and River's wedding, the two find a rabbit killed by a car on the road next to the wedding venue by the lighthouse. The next memory is where John learns that River's illness is a pervasive development disorder. John's teenage memories reveal that he meets River in high school, eventually asking her out on a date. In this scene, River is shown with her stuffed platypus animal--a recurring piece of memorabilia that appears throughout the game's memories.
As they close in on John's childhood years, a glitch in the system roadblocks them. Eva and Neil stop there, thinking they have enough to go on, and insert the desire of getting to the moon into John's dream. However, the desire did not take, and John's memories do not change. Even after trying to hop around once again to change numerous memories, John's wish remains unfulfilled, and Eva and Neil call it quits for the night.
The next morning, after a phone call with headquarters, Neil learns John had a large dose of beta blocker as a child. The beta blockers severely dampened his memories; because Eva and Neil had no prior knowledge of this, they couldn't prepare properly to account for this potential issue. This is why Eva and Neil weren't able to enter John's childhood memories. Eva and Neil ultimately realize that the sense of smell can be used to open up John's child memories; the foul odor of the dead squirrel would be just the ticket. With John's health quickly fading, his doctor determines that this will be their last chance to do this. While these discoveries are being made, we watch Eva learn that Neil has been taking painkillers after having walked into a wall--or so he claims--and Eva expresses concern over a potential addiction.
Successfully entering John's childhood memories, Eva and Neil see John get run over by his mother backing out of the driveway. However, it's revealed that the victim was actually John's twin brother, Joey. The beta blockers administered to John served to severely dampen any memories of this incident, as well as much of what happened prior in John's life.
The pair travel to an earlier memory at the carnival, where they witness John, Joey, and their mother arguing over whack-a-mole prizes. John won a bag with something in it. Eva and Neil then follow John wandering towards an isolated spot on the cliff to gaze at the stars. A young River soon appears and they 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 trace a rabbit constellation out of the stars, with the moon serving as its belly. River asks what John sees; excitedly, he answers the ears. "What else?" River asks; John replies that he also sees feet. Finally, River asks "what else" a final time--recalling her behavior in John's later memories--but young John, still excited, answers, "And... And the moon!! The moon is its big round belly!!"--in stark contrast to his confused replies during his adult years.
Before John has to leave, he gives River the item inside his bag that he won at the whack-a-mole game--the stuffed platypus seen throughout the game--and agrees to meet her at the same place, same time next year. When asked what would happen if one of them got lost, John proposes that they meet up on 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; in order to do this, she intends to move River out of John's original teenage memories; with John and River never having met up again in high school and marrying, Eva believes that this will serve as the strongest motivation possible for John to get to the moon. Neil wants to avoid such a drastic measure--they know why John wants to get to the moon, and he believes that River is more important to John's memories. 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 new manipulated memories after removing River, Neil learns that Eva has manipulated John's memories of Joey such that the latter is never killed. Instead, John and Joey grow up doing everything together. John's memories of River are re-framed as having happened with Joey. As they grow older, Joey achieves his dreams of becoming a famous author. Meanwhile, John--still determined to go to the moon--finally is accepted into NASA and becomes a astronaut. While touring NASA, John meets River--also a new recruit--and Neil finally learns that Eva's intent to remove River from John's teenage memories in hopes that John's mind would still bring them together later in life.
After marrying and going to the moon together, John and River retire, building the house by the light house together. Eva and Neil allow Lily and John's doctor witness John's final memories as his wish is fulfilled: The shuttle launches, with John and River holding hands inside, bound for the moon. In the real world, John passes away.
In the aftermath, we learn that John bequeathed his house to Lily; Eva and Neil receive a call and leave to go to their next patient. Neil goes through takes his painkillers before the screen fades to black.
The words "Episode 1: To the Moon" appear with 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 the film, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", the novel, "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy", and the film, "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