I don’t do many video game reviews, just reviews of games that I think have a great story and might be relevant to a story-writing, book-reading blog.
To The Moon is an indie RPG from Freebird Games. It’s usually $9.99 on Steam, and that’s not a bad price for it. However, I’d put it on your wishlist and let Steam email you when it goes on sale; $5 is definitely worth it. Also keep an eye out for a Humble Bundle including it (this is where my copy came from).
Now, before you get super hype, you video-game lover you, I first must warn you: this is almost exclusively a short story with a tiny bit of video-game and puzzle. The story is linear, and nothing you do will change it; hell, there’s barely even any score, and any scoring functions you perform are all in your head.
Here’s a pretty good image of what the game will look like:
You play as a pair of scientists whose job is to alter the memories of dying people so they head off into the wild blue yonder with the belief that they fulfilled all their life’s hopes and dreams. This means you get to hop through ol’ geezer Johnny’s head and see his past as part of your effort to get him to the moon. The problem is that he doesn’t – and never has – recalled why he wants to go to the moon in the first place.
There are twists, and I think they’re well done (if a bit sappy). It reminded me a lot of Citizen Kane (though, I must admit, Citizen Kane is a f*cking masterpiece).
Overall, good game. Great game? No. But definitely worth the time and money I put into it. It takes about 4-5 hours to play all the way through.
Beware – I will be spoiling both the main twist and the ending before I get through this review.
Anyway, the front end of the game focuses on Johnny and how he had a fulfilling if pretty normal life married to a woman named River. River is non-neurotypical, and I get the game was going for autistic (though I’m not sure and it never says for sure). In an atypical fashion, however, you can’t access his earlier childhood memories, and this makes your main characters fail at their objectives… at first.
Then, after some creative thinking, you come up with a way to solve the problem and access his childhood memories in order to instill the desire to go to space into him. You find out *twist spoiler ahead* that his twin brother died and the resulting ‘blank spots’ in his memory caused him to forget that he promised River to visit the moon.
The twist contained all the elements I like in a twist: 1) I didn’t see it coming and 2) There was evidence for it that you didn’t quite put together before it was told to you. It was great.
My problem with the twist is that it came with the result that the twin brother, which you didn’t hear about for most of the game, ended up being more important than the wife. It made her part of the story feel like a red herring, and I was slightly disappointed that she wasn’t part of the problem/solution.
However, the ending did work out well. It was happy despite some worrying bits in the third act, and you get to see Johnny launch to the Moon with River by his side.
Give the game a try. It’s a good indie game, after all!