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Review: To the Moon

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Title: To the Moon
Price: $11.99
System(s): *Windows PC, Linux
Release Date: November 17, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Freebird (Wadgeteye Games)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Pros: Great story line, very emotional and realistic. Fun and old school graphics give you a classic feel. Funny dialogue and a lot of pop references. Easy and fun for everyone.
Cons: Not much game play, short game at 4.5 hours and the memory links are a bit confusing.
Overall Score:Two Thumbs Up; 9o out of 100; A-; * * * * out of 5.

Ever want to go to the Moon? How about if you could think you did? That is what happens in Freebirds’ To the Moon. Two doctors run a machine that allows memories to be implanted into people (dying patients, in particular) to make them believe they actually visited the place.

There is a bit of a technicality though. The memory has has to occur at the right moment in time. Which means the doctors have to venture through the patient’s memories to find the right location to place the new memory. Naturally, it ends up being an emotional trip.

Total Recall Meets Memento

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Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts are in charge of the memory machine. They are hired to implant new memories into a dying old man named Johnny who wants to go to the moon. They ask him why and all he can respond with is, “I don’t know, I just do.” Well, that’s not good enough for the machine so now you must venture through his memories to find out the reason.

To the Moon is best described as interactive fiction, so there is not much to do gameplay wise. Players walk around and click on “memory links” that are spread around the memory. After you find enough, you can use those links to access the actual memory link which will send you further back in his memories until you get to the one you need. After you “break” the memory, you play a short mini game where you have to decode the memory by clicking on different circles. Once it’s broke and decoded it is ready to access.

If any of this sounds strange to you, keep in mind that the doctors are inside a machine that accesses Johnny’s memories. The machine needs certain memory links to move around and since it can’t do it itself, the doctors have to help. The doctors can also make themselves invisible or visible at will, in case they have to interact with Johnny or other characters within the memory. Since this is just a machine accessing the memories, these interactions don’t interfere with the actual memory and the doctors can even reset the memory if they mess up.

The rest of To the Moon is spent witnessing the memories taking place in reverse order, meaning you start with the most recent memories and go back in time until Johnny’s childhood. Don’t expect everything to make sense until you go back far enough, as each previous memory explains a but about the prior one. Johnny’s life was a bit tragic so make sure you have a few Kleenex with you as you watch.

Drama & Gaming

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I would say To the Moon is 90% interactive fiction and 10% adventure gaming. The latter is really the mini-game where players decode the memories. I initially was a bit annoyed about the lack of things to do but the storyline is so enthralling and emotional that you quickly get involved in it and forget about the lack of gameplay. It’s really a great story and because you are getting it backwards (from finish to start), it’s easy to stay involved because you want to see what led up to each event. The game is not very long, only about four and a half hours but it really adds to the interactive fiction aspect.

The dialogue is a bit funny as well; I wouldn’t say it is laugh-out-loud funny but it’s funny enough to break the emotional tension of the story. For instance, you can tell right away that Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts don’t really get along but have to work together and that Dr. Watts is a recluse with a tad ego problem. There are also a lot of pop references to British shows including Dr. Who and others.

I love the graphics. They are sort of old school pixel graphics that makes you feel like you are in a classic role-playing game only without the leveling up and swordplay. It also makes the game feel more fun and less like you are reading a novel. As far as music goes, there’s a lot of sad piano music playing, as Johnny is an avid piano player, but no other real music.

My main complaint is that the memory links part doesn’t really make sense. You need to find several (about seven) links that you use to “break” through to the actual memory link that allows you to progress. However, the links don’t really make sense. As you look around there are things to click on that will be turned into a little orb but they all seem like random unconnected things and, sometimes, things you’ve already found. Also, you can find links by just walking around so you don’t even always see what they are. The actual memory links aren’t always mentioned in the previous memories. So, basically all the memory links you find seem random and unconnected to the “memories” they are in.

Memories Don’t Come Cheap

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I enjoyed To the Moon. It was fun and a nice little story. You may play it off as a Total Recall ripoff but it goes deeper than that. If you are more into gameplay than story or are a person who is afraid to show a little emotion, then you may want to pass on this title. Otherwise it is a must have for interactive fiction fans.

Site [Freebird Games]

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