Game review: "To The Moon"

Tue, 2017/04/25

Are you interested in creepy origami rabbits? Man, have I got the game for you. “To The Moon” is a cute, plot-driven game about Johnny, an elderly man on his deathbed, whose biggest regret in life is never making it to the moon. And there are so, so many creepy origami rabbits.

On principle, I’m more of a reader of books than a player of games. I started “To The Moon” solely due to a recommendation from a friend, yet quickly became invested enough in the plot to continue playing. I would definitely recommend it, even to those who wouldn’t call themselves “gamers.”

The game begins by introducing the player to Dr. Neil Watts, a man who has just crashed his car by “heroically evading” a squirrel. His colleague, Dr. Eva Rosalene, is quick to point out that not only did he run over the squirrel anyways, he also hit a tree. Both Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene are employees of the Sigmund Corporation, with the former being a technical specialist and the latter a senior memory traversal agent.

The game is formatted in such a way that gives the player a limited sense of freedom with their actions; for example, while the pair needs to make it from their crash site to their client’s home, when presented with a boulder in the middle of the path, the player is given with some options with how to deal with it. Would you like to push it by hand, or find a branch to help? This reminds me, distantly, of the “choose your own adventure” books I read in middle school, however it didn’t seem as though the course of the game could be drastically changed by your decisions. All in all, though, because of the emphasis on plot rather than gameplay, the game felt more like reading a book, and I liked that. There are no fighting sequences or time-sensitive tasks. There’s a particular visual puzzle that reoccurs throughout the game, but it’s a minor thing.

The plot was easily the best part of the game. The mysterious “Sigmund Corporation” grants clients any wish they’d like-- by going back through their memories and influencing their early selves. In Johnny’s case, his one wish is the moon; the goal for Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene, then, is to “hop” through Johnny’s memories until they reach his early self and pass on this desire to him. Along the way, the player learns, in a backwards sort of fashion, about Johnny’s life. Johnny’s late wife, River, plays an interesting and pivotal role, and there were several instances in which the plot surprised with its complexity. I would have preferred it in book-format, however; I spent many frustrating minutes attempting to figure out how to get places or hovering my mouse around every object in the room to see what I could interact with. Again, I’m not really a player of games.

Graphically, the game was designed to have a purposefully-pixelated feel, which I didn’t like. I suppose there was a childish simplicity to it that I should have appreciated. I didn’t.

The soundtrack mostly consisted of mellow piano, which I thoroughly enjoyed, for the most part. One particular piece, which featured a melodic line of two continually repeated notes, did get pretty monotonous. The game itself broke the fourth wall many times in order to address this fact, however, which I appreciated. For the most part, the music was enjoyable.

Overall, I would definitely recommend “To The Moon” to a fellow origami rabbit enthusiast; just don’t go in expecting a gameplay-oriented adventure. Instead, look forward to extremely pixelated yet well-formed characters and a genuinely interesting and well composed story.