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To The Moon is a fantastic story(game) about a mans life and his relationship with his neurodifferent wife, told through a framing story where people go through his memories to give him his dying dream of going to the moon.
This game doesn't understand why it is great. The story with the husband and wife is exceptional, it's short and simple but there is an incredible amount of depth and it shows so much. But it doesn't completely recognise that our enjoyment comes from exploring this, the relationship between the two memory explorers are good and they are good characters, the humour is generally funny, but too much focus is given to them when they just aren't the attraction. I enjoyed the jokes, but they didn#t sit right for me, because in the end I didn't come for them and wanted to get to the good bits. All the tension comes from the framing plot, but it ends up being pointless melodrama, particularly towards the end where it becomes very forced. The lives of the people were more interesting and more natural
This extends heavily into the gameplay. Heavy Rain took gameplay and used it to bring the player closer to the story, To The Moon's gameplay removes the player from the story. In the end the game should have been exploring these lives, but it gates it with find 5 things gameplay, which is actually just there to make you see the story. It would have been a better game with less 'gameplay' and more player trust.
And the ending left me completely dissatisified. Giving people fake memories overstepped into removing the purpose of living.
Nevertheless I've had greater engagement in my dissatisfaction than in almost any other polished I've ever played. It pushes boundaries of thought
9/10 Must Play
I'm mainly using this to test spoilers because I want to suggest the small change that would have made the end acceptable to me because it highlights what I felt was ultimately wrong with the end. Although this game doesn't have twists, it still is something to be experienced for yourself and I beg you, if you haven't played the game not to look at them, even if you don't think you're going to play it. (Although I'm pretty sure you can buy it very cheaply and it's short, so you should play it)
I'd also like to note that from now on I'm going to score my reviews but not as to how good they are, but how much value they have. I enjoy talking about how well a game achieves it's purpose, what was good, what was bad, but that doesn't leave much space for the worth of the game itself and whether it should be experienced. A score is a good way of expressing that. this way I can explain how Uncharted 2 is an excellent game which does what it wants to do really well, but in the end it's 7/10 and your life isn't really devalued if you don't play it. I can enjoy Co Ds after 4 but also give them 2/10's.
Finally it's interesting to me (and we are a site about exploring the patterns and nature of literature) that without the framing device over-emphasis this would be one of the first games ever to have a third-person narrative
[[spoiler]] Is this how it works?[[/spoiler]]
Whoops, meant to recheck if spoiler work in the comments and I even forget how they work altogether
is this better?
Cool, sorry for the comment spam. So I feel like the ending of To The Moon would have satisfied me if the final solution was to give River the desire to go to the moon as well. So their lives would have played out the same way and it would have kept the faith of the desire. It would only have been a simulation, but it would have been more faithful. Ultimately showing a person a what-if and a finally dream to make his death happy seems okay to me, but only if that dream is an addition to his life rather than a re-write. Ultimately this makes all of To The Moon still wrong, but emotionally I can understand as long as the core things that a person kept in his life remain the same. This ending rewrote too much and it annoyed me that it was presented as a faithful happy solution.
This says most of what I would say about the game. The John/River story is great, but the game feels insecure about the whole thing.
The issue with the ending is really an issue with the story's central premise, though I suppose one could have been hoping for it to be subverted. A person would have to have a severely miserable life to justify overwriting the whole thing with pleasant lies, even if we ignored the fact that the process doesn't appear to guarantee that all the new memories will be good ones. (What if the person just gets a new "biggest regret" out of this?) It doesn't really help that John seems to have signed onto this without fully understanding the implications, based on his questions in the first memory.
But, it should be said that the game made me care enough about the characters' life together for it to seriously bother me when I felt it was being screwed up.
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