Developer: Freebird Games
Publisher: Freebird Games
Platform: PC (Web, Steam)
Release Date: September 6, 2012 (out now)
ESRB: N/A (E10+ for Everyone 10 and older recommended)
Have you ever had a dream that you wanted to achieve in your lifetime? Travel the world? Become a doctor? Write best-selling, critically acclaimed novels? The majority of the time, we never get to have that single, big wish come true. But what if it was possible to have another chance at reliving your lifeâ€”to reach that goal that youâ€™ve always dreamed of?
To the Moon presents that very scenario, where doctors go inside the minds of dying patients to fulfill their wish. Sure, that change to the patientâ€™s memories is only inside their own head, but it can provide utmost happiness and satisfaction right before they draw their dying breath. The particular tale of memory-altering that To the Moon tells is that of an elderly man named Johnny. Our playable characters, Dr. Roselene and Dr. Watts, learn that Johnnyâ€™s lifelong wish was to go to the moonâ€¦ but why? Your main objective of the game is to find that outâ€”and then, of course, make it so for Johnny.
The game is definitely story-driven, with minimal gameplay elements. At most, you will search around for items and solve small puzzles (which are all tile-flipping grid puzzles). And when you do get to those parts, itâ€™s dull, repetitive, and bothersome. So, keep that in mind if youâ€™re looking for a full-fledged adventure game, because To the Moon is far from one. Youâ€™ll like it a lot more if youâ€™re into interactive stories/visual novels, though.
So, if To the Moon doesnâ€™t have much in the gameplay department, how is its story? Itâ€™s certainly worth playing through the game for its emotional and touching tale. However, itâ€™s not a heartstring-tugging and depressing one that has you questioning life while you lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling like many have made it out to be. Nonetheless, I think itâ€™s still very well-written (in terms of its plot) and has a nicely implemented climax and twist at the end. I was really amused by the banter between Dr. Roselene and Dr. Watts, and I grew to enjoy them as characters. I believe Johnny and his wife, River, should have been fleshed out a bit more, though.
Graphics and music are what To the Moon excels most in. The game uses pixel art for its graphical style, and itâ€™s tremendously visually appealing. All of the pixel artwork in To the Moon is highly detailed â€“ from the backgrounds to the character sprites. An array of deep and vivid colors is used; itâ€™s a nice change of pace from a lot of other games. Even the animation exhibits attention to detail. Youâ€™ll notice that characters will often show off varieties of stances and bodily and facial motions.
As for the music, Iâ€™d say itâ€™s To the Moonâ€™s best component. The soundtrack is one of the better ones Iâ€™ve heard in the past year or two of game releases. Many of the tracks are just so emotional that theyâ€™ll give you goose bumps. To the Moonâ€™s music undoubtedly enhances the experience twofold. So, if you do end up purchasing a copy of the game, try spending the few bucks more to get the soundtrack as well.
To the Moon isnâ€™t a bad game, but itâ€™s not a masterpiece either. Itâ€™s simply good. I still appreciated my time with it and liked the story. In fact, Iâ€™m looking forward to Kan Gao and Freebird Gamesâ€™ next projectâ€”which is most likely the next adventure of Dr. Roselene and Dr. Watts. Hereâ€™s hoping that they take criticism and suggestions to heart and make the next game an even greater experience.
+ Highly detailed pixel art and animation
+ Music is amazingly beautiful and enhances emotional experience
- Writing feels a bit amateurish and story could use a bit more depth
- Gameplay elements are minimal, and when they are there, theyâ€™re boring and annoying
Overall: 7 (out of 10)
To the Moon isnâ€™t the heartwrenching, grippingly emotional work-of-art youâ€™re looking for. Still, itâ€™s a game worthy of having its tale being told.