Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Although To The Moon is curiously satisfying, the simplicity offers little depth as an adventure game. Freebird Games, the same indie developer behind the game Quintessence: The Blighted Venom, offers another uniquely narrative-styled adventure game proclaiming to be a mix of sci-fi, tragicomedy and psychological genres.
The premise is creative: there exists a technology that allows you to alter and generate memories to fulfill your last wish or desire at the cost of your life. This process is only offered to those on their death beds because the mind cannot come to terms with this new manufactured reality and the patients die, but with a perception of their lives as fulfilling those wishes. What last wish is so overwhelming that though you could not achieve it through your life, you are willing to completely alter your memories to achieve it? To The Moon is about Johnny, his final wish and your journey to piece together his life story.
The theme here is to create a simplistic yet immersive experience. The control scheme uses the mouse for left-click navigation through the world with a limited amount of exploration. Right-clicking brings up the inventory and menu screens. Certain environmental elements can be inspected or interacted with and are usually highlighted for the gamer's attention. For the most part, the game is heavily narrative-driven and you will spend most of your time reading the dialogue boxes above each of the character's heads. You traverse through the games levels by collecting bits of memories to unlock objects that hold sentimental value to Johnny and transport you to yet earlier stages of the main character's life.
To The Moon has the styling of a classic 2D 16-bit RPG, but I would advise the player to enter windowed mode via ALT+ENTER to really appreciate the novelty of the graphics, as full screen real estate on most monitors does not do this game justice. The dialogue is all text-driven, so emphasis and emotions are displayed using various text-formatting techniques. Most importantly, the sound track is enjoyable and feels paired well with the story. The music is composed on piano and can be purchased separately if you find it to your liking.
The top of the screen shows your progression through memories, and years, of Johnny's life. The bottom of the screen shows how many memory pieces you have collected to unlock the next memory leap. With each leap, hoping to be the last leap home. "Oh Boy."
I did find the puzzles easily solvable but at times had some difficulty discerning the graphical puzzle elements from the background because of contrast issues. The puzzles are all of the same type, with just a slight increase in difficulty as you progress farther into the game. In all honesty, I feel the puzzles are an afterthought thrown in to give the player something extra to do, and they distract from the experience as a whole. The inventory screen is not necessary and any additional value added to the story with the collectibles could have been included in the game by other means.
Simple puzzle type you see every time you change levels.
There were a few times when it appeared I could click on story elements between scene transitions, and other times when it seemed cursor graphics didn't load for a scene properly. For example, youll typically have feet show up for the cursor for traversing different map areas or going up and down stairs, but every so often you'll have an hourglass instead.
You get this cursor sporadically through the game when you expect to see other cursors.
If you are interested in narrative story interaction then To The Moon is worth your time to experience. It doesn't take itself too seriously, with a few small parodies and comic throwbacks to other games; however, To The Moon does manage to pass along the sense of satisfaction from having just finished a good book.
I would recommend this game if you are looking for a unique way to experience a good story, but it certainly lacks in significant comparisons to most adventure genre games. I insist you try it out for a full hour for free yourself -- it's available on the Freebird Games website -- and give this indie developer a chance to prove to you that his story is worth your time.
Final Grade: B-