Rocket! To the moon!
To the Moon is a sort of visual novel made with RPG Maker, in which you guide a couple scientists around to find items that advance the story (in which said scientists help an old man dream of fulfilling his dying wish, by entering his memories and altering them). With that in mind, it’s best to not jump into this title expecting a lot of gameplay, with the exception of a dozen or so tile-flipping puzzles.
Regarding the story, it’s basically Inception meets… Well, it’s Inception. But that was a good movie, so that’s okay. And to be fair, To the Moon spices things up a bit with its fresh new take on how science of the future has enabled psychonauts to access the memories of their clients: arbitrary tile-flipping puzzles.
These puzzles are easy enough for even me to solve, so I think I might need to just quit whatever job it is I have right now and become a full-fledged science guy. Either that, or an astronaut. Is that how you’re supposed to find love? Last time I gave a girl a platypus beanie baby, I just got a bit of a chuckle-level thank you and that was the end of the story. There was no arc that developed whatsoever. No arbitrary plan to meet at the moon, no endearing roadkill, and definitely no tile-flipping puzzles.
But enough about my waste of a life! What about To the Moon? The retro graphics are nicely-done, and the music stands out as an especially positive point to the game’s merit. But since the main draw of this is the story, the biggest question has to be Is the story any good? And considering how much praise this story got, it must be really good, right? Well, it’s good, but I’m reluctant to add a significant qualifier to that assessment. It’s good for the video game medium in general I suppose–there is a three-act structure, for example (and the game is even nice enough to point out when each act begins). There is some foreshadowing. A plot twist or two. And even a little character development.
But that said, the scientists you play as are quite obnoxious for the vast majority of the game, and the game’s continuous attempts at comedy are truly hit-or-miss… Well, mostly just miss. And if I’m going to be a harsh critic I’d say the dialogue and pacing are often shaky too–but luckily the actual plot structure makes up for it since it’s at least set up well for a dramatic emotional payoff. It’s the sort of thing that typically leads to very divisive reactions actually, so To the Moon’s near-unanimous 10/10s for its story are kind of a big surprise in that respect. But maybe that’s just because this is the first game of its kind that people have played? I’ll probably blog plenty more games of this sort in the future actually, since I’m a bit of a fan of these kinds of narrative-driven RPG Maker titles. (For example, the various horror-themed titles VGperson has translated from Japan.)