Speculative Spotlight: To The Moon

It's the last Monday of January, which means it's time for this month's Speculative Spotlight, in which I share something that I deem to be a worthy representation of awesomeness in the world of speculative fiction. Today, I'm going to be talking about To The Moon, a fantastic indie game for Windows PCs.


What's the Story?


Today's entry came about in kind of an interesting way. When I initially sat down to write this, the "spotlight" was going to be on something else entirely. I got about half of the article done at the tail end of a writing session, then decided to call it quits for the day. Later that night, the video game addiction centers of my brain began churning and marched me over to the computer to satisfy the cravings. Being in between games at the time meant it was time to try something new, and my game of choice for the night was chosen randomly from a swelling list of games on my hard drive that I've gathered from sales and bundles over the last couple of years but for some reason never got around to playing. The one I ultimately chose was a little adventure by Freebird Games called To The Moon.

As soon as I finished playing, I came back to my blog and shelved everything I'd written previously so that I could write about this game instead.

Why It's Awesome


To The Moon is a point and click adventure game at its heart, but its visuals and overall feel also hark back to the old school Japanese role-playing games of the Super Nintendo era. The music, graphical style, and text-based dialogue are all straight from the golden age of 16-bit gaming. If, like me, games of yesteryear like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy were a prime source of enjoyment for you as a child, then this one will be striking at your nostalgia chords from the moment you boot it up. But its real magic lies much deeper than the surface trappings of presentation; what will reach out and take hold of you is the charming story.

You play as Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts, who work for a company that specializes in memory implants, fulfilling the dying wishes of unfortunate people on their deathbeds. Using a special machine, they're able to replace the patient's existing memories with a new choice or desire, allowing them to die free of regret. They do this by "entering" the subject's memory and traveling as far back as they can to implant the desire at a very young age. Their technology simulates the results of that single choice, thereby altering an entire lifetime of memories. The catch is they're not able to jump all the way back to the patient's childhood in one leap. They have to start with his most recent memories and work their way back, experiencing several significant moments in his life, but in reverse.

You join Rosalene and Watts in their attempt to grant the dying wish of a man named John Wyles. With his life nearing its end, Johnny wants to go to the moon—but doesn't know why. As you travel through the highs and lows of this man's life, you unravel that mysterious desire, learning more about him and the choices he's made with every leap backward in time. I must admit I'm struggling to describe the story any further than that, as I fear I'd spoil the magic, but you eventually come to know Johnny even better than he knows himself, as you witness the things he's loved and lost over a lifetime.

I can say with confidence that To The Moon has one of the best storylines of any game I've ever played, and I believe it can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike. Seriously! There's no complex control scheme to wrap your head and hands around, no hand eye coordination required. For the most part, the whole thing can be played with just the click of a mouse. Also, its retro graphical style means pretty much any machine should be able to run it. And it will only cost you ten bucks. So what are you waiting for? Play this game.

Image courtesy of Freebird Games

Comments

  1. I totally love old point-and-click games!

    My favorite one is and always will be Sanitarium -- although by the sound of it, this one's likely to replace it.
    The storyline sounds amazing, it would make for a fantastic premise for a wild variety of sci-fi novels too...

    Thank you so much for the suggestion!

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    1. No problem, Vero! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The gameplay is much less complex than your usual adventure game, but the story makes up for it in spades.

      Thanks for reading!

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  2. I've found the storylines of many games superior to other mediums such as books and movies. Haven't played this one though.

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    1. I'd have to agree, Alex. It's a shame that games don't usually get the credit they deserve as a storytelling medium. Experimental games like this one go a long way in demonstrating that potential.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  3. Wow, I just had a serious Bill and Ted's Adventure flashback! This sounds really interesting. And I like games that are easy to play, like Sims. Lol! I'm definitely going to investigate this.

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    1. It definitely has a time travel feel, even though they get around the problems of a time travel premise with the "memory" thing. I'd say this game is even easier than The Sims! Hope you enjoy it, Krystal.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. The theme and feel remind me of Myst and Riven. I'll have to check it out! :)

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hope you like it, Diane! I'd say it's nowhere near as complex as Myst or Riven, really. I might even go so far as to say it's more of an interactive short story with familiar game trappings than a typical video game. The puzzles are nowhere near as punishing as heavyweights like Myst.

      Thanks for reading!

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  5. Awesome lookin' game, JW! Might have to put this one on my wishlist !

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    1. Excellent! Hope you like it, if you do. Thanks for stopping by, Randi.

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  6. I miss the old school games too. Like Diane, I was a big fan of Myst too.

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    1. Adventure games have long been one of my favorite genres. Thankfully, they are making a comeback these days thanks to great little companies like Freebird Games.

      Thanks for the comment, Elsie!

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  7. It has a beautiful soundtrack and it sounds like a wonderful game. I might have to look into it!

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    1. The soundtrack is great, a perfect mix of nostalgic and modern, and a great compliment to the story. Hope you enjoy it, Cathy! Thanks for reading.

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  8. This looks fascinating, will have to try it. Did you ever come across the game Mental Repairs, Inc.?

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    1. Can't say I have, Gene. I'll have to check it out. Is it good?

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