Being a 17 year-old male, there are a few things we are stereotypically not allowed to do. These things include discussing emotions, generally being sensitive or worst of all; crying. Well guess what ladies and gentlemen, I am about to break a few social barriers. There are three things that have caused me the cry as a teenager: The Elephant Man, the opening to Pixar’s Up and finally, To the Moon. To the Moon did not just make me cry however, it moved me enough that three weeks later it is still firmly on my mind. So firmly on my mind in fact, that the only way I can think to move on is to try and share the experience with others. While the experience of sitting alone at 2:30 AM crying over a game is not one often shared, I can assure you that it was worth every tear.
First of all, I should probably explain what it is. To The Moon is a game created by Freebird Games in Canada and was actually released in late 2011. Normally I wouldn’t write an article on something over a year old, but this is simply too good not to spread the word about. While it is classed as a game, I would personally class it as an interactive story more than anything. Gameplay is limited and most of the joy comes from experiencing the story. Despite its lack of impressive graphics or flashy gameplay, it manages to ooze charm and love more than any game I’ve ever played in my entire life. While only four and half hours long, I don’t believe I’ve come across any story that has made me stop and think like this. I obviously don’t want to spoil any of the plot, but I will try and explain the basic premise in the simplest way possible.
To the Moon begins with an old man on his death bed; an old man who has a dream to go to the moon. This man is called Johnny. Johnny is now too old and too ill to do so, though with the help of our two protagonists, Dr Watts and Dr Rosalene, maybe his dream can come true. That is because the doctors have the ability to change people’s memories. Contracted to make the old man believe he achieved his dream, the two have to search through backwards through his memories and change them, before it is too late. What comes next is a series of moral dilemmas, brilliantly written dialogue sequences and an insight into a whole man’s life in reverse, which I can only describe as beautiful yet deeply saddening.
I find it hard to do the game justice with words, mainly because I was actually a little put off when I heard the premise of the plot and thus waited a year before playing it. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. Just go into the game with an open mind and you will soon be sucked into the world as I was, even if the game starts off a little slow. The game takes its time to really attack your emotions and you’re almost lulled into a false sense of security with humorous dialogue between the central characters. The game can be truly funny at times and it used to break up the darker scenes to ensure no one dry up their eyes from all the crying. I also found the messages the game put across very thought provoking. Would you want someone to change how you remember your entire life, even for the better? Johnny’s life will never change in reality, but if he believes it has, is that good enough? Personally, that struck a chord with me. A large, tear-jerking chord. One final point I would like to make is on the topic of the game’s soundtrack. Primarily a piano-based soundtrack, it accompanies the melancholy atmosphere absolutely perfectly and is one I immediately bought for an extra three or four pounds. I would highly recommend you do the same.
So how do you get this game? Well it is available on steam, GOG and origin as well as the creator’s website (freebirdgames.com) for around £7. You can also bundle the soundtrack with that price for around £10, which save a pound or two than if you buy them separately. I would recommend picking this up as soon as possible and not just because it is an incredible experience. Part Two is coming. To the Moon is actually the first part in a series, with a short filler part coming in a month or two before the second instalment next year. This first part does a fantastic job of satisfying you with a standalone experience, but at the same time making you long for the next stage in the series. There has never been a better time to pick this game up. If you want to experience a beautiful story with incredible writing, then let the plot unfold with its wonderful twists and turns and I can almost guarantee you’ll be sobbing as much as I was.