To the Moon is the story of a dying man’s final wish. He wants to go to the moon. He doesn’t remember why he wants to go to the moon. Sometime before he fell ill, he hired the services of Sigmund Corp, a company that can send people into the minds of the dying in order to change memories so that they can remember whatever they want as they die.
Have you ever been so sick that you thought you were going to die? I have not. But, I have often thought about my past as I lie awake in the deepest parts of the night. What would I change if I could re-do it all? Who would I treat differently? What career path would I take? If I changed one thing, would that completely change me? What if I knew what I wanted to do with my life when I was 15 rather than 25?
To the Moon explores these kind of themes as it sends two scientists into the dying man’s memories to piece together the mysteries of his life in order to fulfill his wish. They have to work their way through his memories in reverse, so you learn about his life backwards. Through this exploration, we see how childhood decisions can affect the course of an entire life, and the game is also quick to remind us how the smallest action or object can have great significance to a person.
I played through the entire game in about four hours, but the story of the game has stayed with me for a couple days. In that brief amount of time, I laughed. And I cried. And I questioned my own fitness as a husband and father. It made me consider what the important things in life are: love, family, friends, listening, learning, nostalgia, fun, and laughter. I ended up caring more for those 16-bit sprites than I have for many modern film, television, or videogame characters.
To the Moon took me on a journey. It didn’t take me into outer space, but it definitely took me on a tour of my thoughts and feelings. I highly recommend it. It has some of the best writing I’ve experienced in videogames.
(As of this writing, To the Moon is available on Steam for $3. Go get it.)