To The Moon

Posted by F1ak3r on Oct. 31, 2012, 3:43 a.m.

The water is poisonous. I've had to stop myself from drinking toxic brown stuff out of the tap so many times, and I'm not terribly fond of drinking lukewarm stuff out of a cooled-down kettle. #thirdworldbutnotreallyatleastiHAVEwaterproblems

Anyway, for my second review, I'm going to be looking at an interesting little RPGMaker game released to critical acclaim around this time last year.

To The Moon

By Kan Gao and Freebird Games

(Click here to go to the game's site.)

To The Moon is a short (playable from start to finish in a few hours), story-based affair about an agency that grants the wishes of dying people by entering and altering their memories, Inception style. It's the first episode in a planned series and focuses on agents Watts and Rosalene's quest to grant their client Johnny's wish to go to the moon.

Over the course of the game, Watts and Rosalene travel backwards through Johnny's memories, slowly uncovering more and more about his life story, all the while asking why his dying wish is to go to the moon.

Story & Gameplay

This game is all about the story. It's not going to draw you in with innovative game mechanics, or addictive Skinner Box–ey rising numbers, or mindblowing visual splendour. Although its website describes it as an "indie adventure RPG", there's really not any RPG here. People play and recommend To The Moon to others because of its story.

And I am very much more then okay with that. This review is garishly coloured by the rainbow of my enormous bias toward liking games that are all about story. I have terrible reflexes, no great competitive spirit, and the kind of creativity usually better suited to a game development program or a text processor than something like Minecraft. I read books long before I touched my first computer game. I am unapologetically a fan of games more about story than gameplay, and I think it's only fair to state that before going into how much I loved this game.

I really can't say all that much about To The Moon's story without, well, saying too much about it and spoiling the experience of discovering it as it was meant to be discovered. This game is about discovering a story. The gameplay is completely tailored to that – you'll spend most of your time clicking on each thing that advances the story to advance the story. There's a minigame and a bit of an action sequence at the end, but both felt like brief distractions and were honestly a little frustrating at times. They had their particular charm, and I'm not sure I'd want the game to dispense with them, but sometimes you don't want to muck about matching tiles when there is story to discover.

The story is more than worth the very minor frustrations the gameplay causes. It starts slow, but halfway through Act 1 I was hooked and knew that I wasn't getting up to do anything else until I had the game beaten. It's a mystery about a love story overlaying thought-provoking questions about the past, our memory of it, and what really matters.

Plus the two viewpoint characters are delightful to listen to (read the dialogue of, if we must be technical), and I look forward to playing more games with them.

Presentation

The graphics look like they jumped out of an old Nintendo console RPG, and there's a definite charm to that. A few sprites look out of place, and at times some things can be a little indistinct, but the graphics work for the most part.

My biggest complaint here is that one of the cursor graphics is an hourglass – and it's not the "please wait" cursor. Or in other words, sometimes the cursor turns into an hourglass and you are expected to click things with that hourglass. Maybe in ten years' time, once everyone's thoroughly used to the Windows wait cursor being a swirly circle thing, that'll be fine, but using an hourglass for a cursor now? That's just baffling. At more points than one my ingrained impression of what that hourglass was supposed to mean had me waiting in front of the screen for it to change before remembering that I could still click things.

The music is fantastic. Every piece not only adds great weight to the situations they play in, but are also really enjoyable, well-crafted bits of music in their own right. This game, like Bastion or Dustforce, has a soundtrack I would happily listen to outside of it.

Closing Thoughts

You can buy To The Moon from its site, Steam or GOG for around $10, or try out the one-hour free trial. If you like a good story, I recommend it.

Comments

Astryl 11 years, 6 months ago

Quote:
#thirdworldbutnotreallyatleastiHAVEwaterproblems

1. Find nearest Oasis outlet.

2. Bring lots of bottles

3. ???

4. Profit (For us)

On topic: I want to try To the Moon. I'm still having trouble getting PayPal and Standard Bank to be nice and love/tolerate each other. Maybe I'm yelling at the customer-care people wrong.

TehHoosier 11 years, 6 months ago

I reviwed this game a few days back and enjoyed it all the way through.

It reminds me of games like Ico for it's relience on narrative and beautiful simplicity.

F1ak3r 11 years, 6 months ago

@Mega: The main thing preventing me from getting water from our local Oasis is being too lazy to carry a heavy bottle up a hill, but I probably will when I get thirsty enough.

Apparently FNB and PayPal are supposed to work okay, but you need a cheque account for that, and apparently you need to be at least 21 to get one of those.

@TehHoosier: I must play Ico one of these days; I've heard a lot of good stuff about it.