ELI RATES THE GAMES: TO THE MOON
ELI RATES THE GAMES
By KCOW Weekend Warrior and Resident Madman Eli Smith
Sometimes a game that is lacking in one area makes up for it in another area. For example, older games may lack the graphical quality of today’s games, but the excellent gameplay makes up for it. A good example of a game lacking in one area and making up for it in another area is To the Moon.
To The Moon is an amazing game: it is almost completely lacking in engaging gameplay; the graphics are on par with titles from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; and the game runs start-to-finish only four hours. Yet despite all of these faults, To The Moon is still an engaging experience. The game is driven by one thing: storyline. Add in an excellent musical score and you have a sleeper game that made a decent impact on the indie scene. In fact, it won the Best Story award (among a few others) from Gamespot, a rather popular game review company.
To The Moon was created by Ken Gao, a Canadian composer and designer who made a name for himself with this game. He is obviously a talented musical composer based on the soundtrack, but the design of the game is still somewhat questionable. The game was created using a program called RPG Maker XP, a consumer-grade software title that can be purchased and downloaded by anybody in the world. Despite the evident limitations suffered by the use of this program, the presentation is still remarkably well done. The limited world you can explore is beautifully designed, with various new things to explore as you travel through the changing environments. Much like the graphics, the gameplay is simple and charming, as you are limited to finding five items per area and solving a short puzzle at the end of every area. While the puzzles are fun, they are not what makes the game worth the $10 price tag. Through your exploration and searching for these items you witness various scenes around the world. This brings out the true gem of To The Moon, its story.
You play the part of two individuals who perform a very strange service, granting the dying wishes of various individuals by altering their memories. They do that using a machine that allows both of them to personally travel through the memories of the dying, using different objects that are important to the dying individual to reach earlier memories. When they reach the earliest possible memory they are able to make some change to assure that their dying wish comes true. The dying wish of one particular man was to go to the moon. He isn’t sure why; he just wants to go there. Those who buy To The Moon will discover this in the intro. I do not want to spoil specific moments, but it is hard to describe the pure amazement of this game without spoiling the story, as that is where this game truly shines. Be warned– there are a few sappy moments in this game, and people who prefer the action oriented titles will find nothing to enjoy here. Adding to the excellent storyline is the soundtrack, which can be bought alongside the game for a small additional charge. The game is mostly filled with piano instrumentals by game creator Ken Gao. The theme song of the game is the only piece with vocals; all of the themes are beautiful musical pieces that fit the personality of the game very well.
To put it simply, To the Moon is the exact opposite of what we have come to expect from modern gaming. It isn’t exciting, it isn’t big budget, and there really isn’t much to do. While a more open world would certainly improve this game, the storyline keeps people interested until the very end.