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09/24/2014 18:14:18 •••

No crying until the end (aaaaand you've failed!)

(Warning: Do not play this game if you are going to be with people shortly after playing it. Your eyes will be reduced to watery, red balls like so many pickled ox's testicles. If you have no choice in the matter, find a convenient excuse; a previously undiscovered allergy to couch dust, or something. Are we cool here? Cool.)

To the Moon (unfortunately, bereft of nary a one Honeymooners joke) is, plain and simple, one of the best narratives yet to be found in our still-young art form (it's growing up so fast these days!). And, despite its seemingly complex story setup (namely, fulfilling someone's dying wish by traveling backwards through their memory in order to instill the desire of that wish in a childhood memory, and have their life play out differently as they strive toward that one goal, if only in their memory), it's not only easy to comprehend, but down-to-earth and human. It intersperses genuine emotion with humor and questions about its own ethics and morality in ways that not only video games, but other forms of media, could learn much from. Just like its graphical presentation, it's simple and clean, and there's where its raw, soul-shattering power comes from.

Perhaps the game's most unique strength is how it deals with the issue of autism in a raw and realistic way that I certainly haven't seen in any medium outside of books. It's obvious it was written by someone not only with experience, but the ability to see the good and bad sides of something that supposedly brings people nothing but trouble and misery. All too many people don't know or care to see the multi-faceted reality of it. After all, people with Down's syndrome are among the happiest people I know. This is the kind of depiction Aspies deserve.

Perhaps the biggest question to ask about To the Moon is... are video games really a proper platform on which to place this kind of narrative? ...I'm not sure. Your own input as a player is minimal, and the times when the strengths of the medium are brought to the fore are few and far between. In fact, sometimes the puzzles and such can be more distracting than anything else. Maybe it would have made a more fitting book? But in the end, it gladdens my heart to know this particular story was told in "our" medium. This is a story that will stay with you for life.


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