To the Moon

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To the Moon
To the Moon cover.png
Developer(s) Freebird Games
Publisher(s) Freebird Games
Designer(s) Kan Gao
Composer(s) Kan Gao
Laura Shigihara
Engine RPG Maker
Platform(s) Windows, OS X, Linux
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Adventure game
Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Optical disc, Download

To the Moon is the fourth video game by Canadian designer/composer Kan "Reives" Gao and the first commercial production by his indie game development team Freebird Games. Released in November 2011, it is a role-playing adventure game designed using the RPG Maker XP engine. The game was originally released on the author's website and various digital download portals. On September 8, 2012, it was made available via Steam, including a version for the OS X and Linux operating systems. On January 7, 2014 it was released with the Humble Indie Bundle X.

To the Moon was nominated for many awards, and was voted the best indie RPG of 2011.

Plot[edit]

The premise of To The Moon is based around a technology that allows the construction of artificial permanent memories. Sigmund Corp., a company that uses this technology, offers the notion of "wish fulfillment" as a service to people on their death bed. Since these artificial memories are permanent, it sharply conflicts with the patient's real memories soon after the person awakens, which is why it is only done on those without much time left to live.

The story follows Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts (employed by Sigmund Corp.) as they fulfill the lifelong dream of the dying Johnny Wyles. Johnny's wish isn't that simple: he wants to go to the moon, although he doesn't know why. To accomplish this task, the doctors must insert themselves into an interactive compilation of his memories and traverse backwards through his life via mementos. With each leap to an important moment in his mind, they learn more about the patient and what brought him to his current position in life. Upon reaching his childhood, the doctors attempt to insert his desire to go to the moon. The intention is that once the desire is implanted, Johnny's mind will create memories of a new life based on that desire, and he'll die believing he lived without any regrets.

But not everything goes as planned. The two doctors find themselves with a heavy mystery concerning Johnny's desire, his past, and his deceased wife, River. With the clock ticking, Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts must unravel Johnny's complicated past and do whatever it takes to send him to the moon.

Ending[edit]

It is finally revealed that Johnny and River had met as children at a carnival, and had agreed to meet at the same place the following year, with Johnny promising that should he forget or get lost, the two would "regroup on the moon". That night, Johnny gives River a toy platypus which River treasures for the rest of her life. Shortly after (chronologically - it preceded this scene in the narrative flow), Johnny's twin brother Joey is killed in an accident. Johnny's mother gives him Beta blockers to induce memory loss of the tragic event, with the side effect that he forgets his first encounter with River. He later happens to meet her again, and romance and marry her, and River only realizes later on that he forgot their first meeting, when he confesses that he approached her in school because she was different. River is, however, unwilling or unable to tell him directly about their first meeting, perhaps due to her condition (in one scene her doctor diagnoses her with pervasive developmental disorder); instead, she tries to indirectly jostle his memories by cutting her hair and crafting paper bunnies, including a dual-colored one representing a constellation that they made up while stargazing during their initial encounter (a rabbit with the moon as its belly), as well as the blue and yellow dress she wore on her wedding day. River is unable to make Johnny remember before she dies, and Johnny is left with lingering guilt and an inexplicable desire to go to the Moon.

Rosalene and Watts eventually implant a memory sequence where Joey is still alive and becomes a popular author, and Johnny is not reintroduced to River until they start working together at NASA. As the comatose real-life Johnny begins to die, he imagines going on a moon mission with River. During the launch, River holds out a hand to him. The moon appears through a window on the ship, and Johnny takes her hand as his heart monitor flatlines.

The epilogue shows that they eventually get married, and build and retire to the same house at which the real-life Johnny and River lived. Back in the real world, Rosalene and Watts look to Johnny's grave, which was placed adjacent to River’s. They reveal that Johnny willed the house to his caregiver Lily. Rosalene receives a phone call, and the two begin moving to their next patient. While Watts is leaving, he freezes up and the screen briefly flashes red, the same way it did when Johnny felt pain. Watts takes a dose of painkillers, then continues onward.

Soundtrack[edit]

To the Moon <OST>
Soundtrack album by Kan Gao, Laura Shigihara
Released November 4, 2011
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 53:05

The soundtrack of To the Moon was praised by many critics. It features a theme song by Laura Shigihara ("Everything's Alright"), with the rest being composed by Kan Gao. The soundtrack was released on November 4, 2011 on Bandcamp, and includes 31 tracks at a total length of 53:05 minutes.[1]


Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 81.53%[3]
Metacritic 81 / 100[2]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 9 / 10[3]
GamePro 5/5 stars[4]
GamesRadar 8 / 10[3]
GameSpot 8.0 / 10[5]
GamrReview 9.0 / 10[6]
RPGFan 90%[7]
Awards
Publication Award
Metacritic[8] Best User-Rated PC Game
RPGFan[9] Best Indie RPG
GameSpot[10] Best Story

To the Moon has received positive reviews which praised the story and music. The game holds an average rating of 81 out of 100 on Metacritic,[2] and 81.53% on GameRankings.[3]

In GameSpot's 2011 Game of the Year awards, To the Moon was given the "Best Story" award, which was won against Catherine, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Portal 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles.[10] which were also voted in the same category. To the Moon was also nominated in the categories of "Best Music",[11] "Most Memorable Moment",[12] "Best Writing/Dialogue",[13] "Best Ending",[14] and "Song of the Year".[15] It was also the highest user-rated PC game of 2011 at Metacritic.[8]

Sequel[edit]

On August 22, 2012 Freebird Games announced a second installment of the To The Moon series. It will be about a new patient; however, some familiar faces will return, such as Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene. They also announced another short story in the series that would be released before the actual sequel, which can be seen as a prelude to the second episode. Though this story is set before the time of Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene, It has also been confirmed that the lead character in this story will become the patient in part 2 of the 'To The Moon' series. The title of the short story is A Bird Story.[16][17] The game was planned to be released in late 2013, but was later revised to "Coming soon".

A downloadable minisode was released on December 31, 2013, both as a standalone download and as part of the Steam and GOG.com releases. This episode centers on Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts and features a holiday party at their local Sigmund Corp. office.[18]

Translations[edit]

Fan-made language translations are also available for the game - supported languages are: Chinese, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Polish, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Vietnamese, Dutch, and Turkish.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "To the Moon <OST>". Bandcamp. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "To the Moon for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "To the Moon for PC reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ "To the Moon for PC review". November 7, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. 
  5. ^ "To the Moon for PC review". GameSpot. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  6. ^ "To the Moon for PC review". November 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ "To the Moon for PC review". RPGFan. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Dietz, Jason (December 23, 2011). "The Best Videogames of 2011 (PC)". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Best Indie RPG of 2011: To The Moon (PC)". RPGFan. 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Best Story". GameSpot. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Best Music". GameSpot. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Most Memorable Moment". GameSpot. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "Best Writing/Dialogue". GameSpot. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Best Ending". GameSpot. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "Song of the Year". GameSpot. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  16. ^ http://freebirdgames.com/a_bird_story/
  17. ^ "Kan Gao Interview - MAGFest 11". YouTube. January 10, 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  18. ^ "(To the Moon) Holiday Special Minisode". 31 December 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  19. ^ http://freebirdgames.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=vv0ak3d95a794segqrkf5elul3&board=55.0

External links[edit]