To the Moon: An Adventure Game with a Philosophical Bent

February 10, 2012

11:00 am

To the Moon was released in November by the independent studio Freebird Games. In contrast to last year’s big productions like Skrym or Batman Arkham City, this is a small-budget game developed in a 16-bits retro style. However, this game has been critically acclaimed for its originality, story and music score.

From a visual viewpoint, To the Moon might look like a Super Nintendo role-play game. The camera looks down on play in a “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” style.  However, To the Moon is not really a role-play game; it is an adventure game in which you have to collect items in order to advance though the game.

One of the main strengths of this game is the narrative. The premise is based around a sophisticated technology that allows constructing artificial memories, which can become permanent.  This technology offers “wish fulfillment” for people on their death bed. The story follows Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts as they fulfill the life-long dream of Johnny Wyles: to go to the moon.

You play the role of Dr. Eva Rosalene or Dr. Neil Watts. Your mission is to get into the memory of Johnny Wyles and traverse backwards through moments in his life. You begin a couple days before he is in bed, and through mementos, you can travel to his memories.  You have to learn about his life; once you reach his childhood, the main goal is to insert the desire of going to the moon, so he can create – and believe – memories of a new life.

Following a dialogue-based style, the story develops in a very interesting philosophical way. It deals with feelings related to love, nostalgia, hope, death, and grief.  In addition, the soundtrack, composed by Kan R. Gao and featured Laura Shigihara, is just beautiful. Both the narrative and the music make a very emotive atmosphere.  So far, To the Moon is one of the most emotional games that I have played.

This game is not just one to try – it is worth it to buy.  It costs around $12, and the soundtrack is $5; 50% of the profits from the soundtrack goes toward charities for autism. Enjoy!

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Salvador Garcia Martinez is currently collaborating as a researcher at the Technoculture, Art, and Games research centre; he is also a doctoral student in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. He has professional experience as a software developer, web designer, and instructional designer. You can connect with him on linkedIn or his personal website or follow him on Twitter @salgarciam.

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