It should be fairly evident by now that we love RPGs at The Tech Labs. We’ve talked about them quite a bit, and between the various indie games we’ve covered and various other featured articles, it is kind of difficult to miss such an observation.
Want more proof? Check out these little numbers.
That should be more than enough proof, especially considering we don’t have to provide any.
The reason we brought up RPGs, in the first place, is because our Indie Game of the Week is one. Our selection this week is “To The Moon,” a sensational title that mixes adventure game elements with RPG gameplay and visuals.
Indie Game of the Week: To The Moon
To The Moon, is somewhat unusual and unique. It follows two doctors as they try to give dying patients’ a second chance at life.
Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts have peculiar jobs: They give people another chance to live, all the way from the very beginning… but only in their patients’ heads.
Due to the severity of the operation, the new life becomes the last thing the patients remember before drawing their last breath. Thus, the operation is only done to people on their deathbeds, to fulfill what they wish they had done with their lives, but didn’t.
This particular story follows their attempt to fulfill the dream of an elderly man, Johnny. With each step back in time, a new fragment of Johnny’s past is revealed. As the two doctors piece together the puzzled events that spanned a life time, they seek to find out just why the frail old man chose his dying wish to be what it is.
And Johnny’s last wish is, of course… to go to the moon.
What Kind of Game is To The Moon?
To The Moon is not a game that is played to experience the action or gameplay. It’s not a game you play numerous times over and over so that you can beat your best times or scores. It’s not a game you play casually, in the hopes of breezing through everything so that you can connect with the game on some shallow, but rudimentary level.
To The Moon is a game that you sit down, and experience through and through. What carries To The Moon during its six or so hours of gameplay is the story. The story is touching, generally lighthearted and yet undeniably sad. It explores some serious topics like love, death and what it actually means to be happy.
The graphics and aesthetics are presented in a 16 bit art style, very similar to classic SNES games. Even so, the art matters very little if you allow yourself become engrossed in the story. The music is fantastic, and captures both the mood and tone of the game very well. In fact, we’d go far enough to say that we bought the soundtrack (which we don’t normally do).
To The Moon follows Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts as they move through John’s memories in search of the reason why he’s made such an odd request for a final memory. In the present, John is on his deathbed just hours away from passing on, and he’s requested one last memory: to travel to the moon. Essentially, the doctors are trying to work their way backwards through John’s memories to his childhood, and then they will introduce the idea into his young mind, Inception style.
The game doesn’t require much playing, apart from some puzzles and a couple monster battles here and there, but the gameplay is certainly not what you would expect from your average RPG. In fact, you spend most of the game walking around, exploring John’s memories, trying to find objects called Mementos.
The doctors can interact with John’s mementos in order to unlock new memories and work their way procedurally backwards through his life. Once a memento is activated, after finding five related items and breaking a surrounding barrier, you have to complete a tile puzzle. The puzzle forms an image of the memento, and you must flip different tiles to display the corresponding image.
What’s so Important About an Old Man’s Memories?
It’s not just the memories that are relevant, but instead, the experiences that John has throughout his life that ultimately shape who he is. Because Dr. Rosaline and Watts are traveling back through John’s memories, they begin to change due to what they experience, as well. By the end of it all, you can identify with all the primary characters in ways that you couldn’t at the start, and it leaves you feeling a bit warm inside.
All of John’s memories are there, the happy ones, sad ones, satisfying ones, unsavory ones and even some disturbing ones. As the game starts you are presented solely a shell of a man as he lays in bed, a vegetable. Yet, as the game nears its conclusion you realize that John is so much more than that. His life is paramount, and so is the trip to the moon that he so desperately wants added into his chain of memories.
To The Moon is certainly a game that everyone should play, at least once. We advise you to keep a box of tissues nearby though, just in case.
To The Moon is Available Now
To The Moon is available to buy now, through Steam or direct from Freebird games (the publisher and distributor). If you’re not particularly sold on the game just yet, you can try the game free for an hour.
If you love games as much as we do, be sure to check out the other titles in our Indie Game of the Week series.
The Tech Labs Indie Game of The Week Series: