To The Moon Review
Would you sacrifice the memories of the person you loved the most if you could experience a fantasy in which your deepest desire comes true? Would you surrender the privacy of your mind and memories if it meant you could die happy? Although “To The Moon” is simple in terms of gameplay and graphics, the messages within this RPG Maker game make it an emotional roller coaster. The bittersweet tone is emphasized with a gorgeous soundtrack featuring incredible vocals and meaningful lyrics, which truly makes the experience a tear-jerking one.
Sometime in the future, technology has made another breakthrough: scientists are able to enter a person’s mind, travel through memories, and alter the details. The power has a purpose for the Sigmund Corporation, an organization which serves as an evolved “Make-a-Wish Foundation”. Essentially, the employees enter the minds of dying individuals and alter their memories so that they may die with an important wish fulfilled. Two cynical and serious scientists, Dr. Neil Watts and Dr. Eva Rosalene, see this task as a mundane part of their job. At first, they are only annoyed and frustrated when they visit the cliff side home of Johnny Wyles.
Johnny is literally on his deathbed, but informs his visitors that he’s always wanted to visit the moon. He doesn’t know why he wants to, he just does. As Neil and Eva explore Johnny’s memories to look for his motivation, they discover how close he was to his wife, River.
Although never stated explicitly, River is implied to be on the autism spectrum. She prefers solitude over large crowds, finds comfort in children’s books, and repeatedly makes origami rabbits. Her husband believes that the fascination with origami is one of the more severe symptoms of her “condition”, but as someone on the spectrum, I found that her ability to interpret things literally was the most defining aspect. One of the best examples is found in Johnny’s memories of his teenage years, when he and River had a confusing first date at the movies.
Johnny: “You were in there this whole time?? I waited for you at the lobby, I thought you didn’t come!”
River: “…Why did you leave? I thought we were watching the movie together.”
Johnny: “We weren’t watching it together…I didn’t even know where you were! If you saw me in there, why didn’t you come and find me?”
River: “What difference does it make…? We were watching the same movie in the same room.”
River is overwhelmed with her desire to be like everyone else, and although Johnny initially dates her because he wants to help her fit in, he finds that he loves her for who she is.
Neil and Eva realize that Johnny’s devotion to River overpowers his desire to become an astronaut and go to the moon. With that, they reach an impasse: Eva wants to alter Johnny’s memories of River so that his mind will let him go to the moon. Neil finds her decision wrong and argues that, without River, Johnny won’t experience the true happiness that he had with River. Eva says it’s just a job, Neil says he didn’t sign up for this.
The game asks us what we do if we were in their shoes. Both make excellent points, but who has the moral high ground? The dilemma is admittedly weakened when the scientists don’t consult Johnny over what they should do and decide to proceed with what they feel is best for him. Shouldn’t Johnny have a say in how his memories are changed? Or did he lose that right when he invited the Sigmund Corporation into his home?
We have no control over some aspects of our life, including what are born with. We don’t have the power to bring our loved ones back from death. But how we choose to live our lives is up to us, and “To The Moon” reminds players that they should never lose sight of what’s most important to them, and to always follow their dreams, no matter how impossible they may be. Save 75% off “To The Moon” during the Steam summer sale here.