The wonderful thing about this medium we call videogames is that the term game is constantly being stretched. We witness cinematic presentation on the same level of film, writing on the same level of plays, novels and poems. Videogames are so much more than their namesake suggests. They are interactive experiences that can imitate all other forms of media but with the key ingredient of interactivity to make it special. Freebird Games’ To the Moon is one of those games that stretches the definition.
To the Moon takes you on a journey through the memories of a dying man on a quest to fulfil his last wish. With the use of a dreamscaping machine the protagonists Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts travel through sequences of memories within their client’s mind and must search out fragments of yore and mementos in order to jump back to a more distant memory to fulfil their clients wish to visit the moon. Think Assassin’s Creed mixed with Inception and Source Code and you’ll be in the right mind set.
As you progress – or more accurately, regress – through the memories you’ll discover more about the dying man, his family and friends. All the while performing simple point and click style exploration and solving a series of simple puzzles through an image revealing mini game between segments of memory. The exploration and puzzle sections are the only real ‘gameplay’ aspects and certainly make up the minority of the experience. The majority is in absorbing the narrative which is exceptionally well written. I really can’t emphasise enough how good the dialogue is, hitting the tone for each scene marvellously and even keeping a remarkably good pace, which for a text only dialogue system is mighty impressive. Moreover it smoothly transitions between humorous and emotionally touching. The protagonist’s banter causes a chuckle now and again and is always charming, whilst the other characters you witness bring the emotion in a truly believable fashion. It’s beautiful.
To the Moon’s narrative and collection of characters feels tangible; meanwhile the presentation is simple but elegant, celebrating its videogame form yet never distracting from the believability of its characters and narrative. To the Moon has been crafted with great attention and care, and it shows in every single scene. It presents itself as an RPG with its item collection, character interactivity and bird’s eye view point with simple sprites and environments designed in a 16 bit style. It builds up expectations of a nostalgia trip but soon breaks that, initially through RPG parody then into the immersive and emotional side of the narrative and dialogue. If there is any criticism to be found it’s purely for the lack of traditional game elements and interactivity. However the focus on telling you a story within this medium is such a compelling concept it’s easy to forgive. To the Moon has been designed in utter service to its narrative.
To The Moon is clever, beautiful, funny, touching and engrossing. It’s an experience seldom seen and one you must explore for yourself. I simply can’t find the words to do proper justice in describing the quality and emotion of this interactive experience. You simply must buy it!
To the Moon is available direct from Freebird Games’ official website. There is also a trial version available.
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: PC Release Date: 01/11/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of To the Moon for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.