Fly Me to the Moon
To the Moon is the first commercial RPG Maker game I’ve played as well as being my first review of 2012. A game made by a small indie team called Freebird Games, it’s available for download on their site at the price of nearly £10 (a generous one-hour trial is available too). This price is pretty hefty for a game offering only fours of game play but I’ll give my opinion on what it’s worth down below.
The game follows Dr. Watts and his travelling colleague, Dr. Rosalene as they seek to fulfil a request from a dying man named Johnny (it has something to do with going “to the moon”). Unlike most doctors in our world, they possess technology that can manipulate and change the memories of humans. I couldn’t help but draw parallels with the film Inception however the writer (well the guy that did most of the work on this game) mentioned in an interview that it was influenced more by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and a few other films I never watched (but plan to do so as soon as possible).
This game allows mouse input so you can point and click instead of using the arrow keys to move around but I mainly used it to scan the screen for items of interest rather than navigating as it was a little buggy.
The game is described as “tragicomedy” but I felt at times it was mood-breaking and didn’t really work as well as it was intended. It had the odd laugh-at-moments but the general banter between the characters in the story wasn’t very pleasant. I can understand why it was it was included but the small pokes (such as at gaming clichés) fall flat. If you can see past this it’s not a problem but I wanted to mention it as it was the reason why I stopped playing the first time around.
Having said that, the “serious” dialogue is aided by some very clever use of character animation as well as other cool techniques. The graphics are pretty much the sort one would expect in a RPG Maker XP game but it has a few scenes where original artwork is used and this greatly complements the story as it unfolds.
Lotsa rabbits; what’s the story behind this? The many mysteries of To the Moon
There are no crystals to collect or dragons to slay but the story is very human and this is the reason to play the game. It might be better told in a different way altogether but to see the story unravel with it’s various sub-plots reflects the talent of the writer here. Spoilers are a big no-no in my reviews so I’ll refrain from giving details about the backdrop to the story but most of the synopsis is on the official site if you want to read it.
There are no battles in the game as it mainly relies on collecting clues in a level that allows you to travel a bit back in time (in Johnny’s memories). At the end of each memory you have to solve a puzzle by swapping tiles around until they all disappear. Further on into the game, there are various other things to do but nothing special. The majority of the game play serves to keep the player doing stuff for the sake of story progression more than a challenge, it neither adds or detracts from my experiences.
On the other hand, the soundtrack accompanying the game really does add a lot of atmosphere and feeling into the story. It’s used very effectively and I don’t remember an instance where I felt something was out of place.
I played this game in just over three hours contrary to the four-and-a-half hour adventure quoted on the official site but I’m not sure if the in-game clock registered it incorrectly as it felt like more than that.
I can’t help but think To the Moon would’ve been better in a non-RPG Maker platform but at the same time, the program scripting behind it is very sound and does the game justice. As someone who’s used to playing RPG Maker games for free, the cost of the game is a little dear in my opinion but at the same time, the work behind everything in this game is something I really do appreciate. For £10 I’m not sure there are many games that can rival this game on a personal level. If you’re still unsure, you can get a refund if you’re not happy after playing the game. How’s that for product confidence?