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To the Moon Review
publisher: Freebird Games
developer: Freebird Games
|ESRB rating: RP
release date: Dec 30, 11
|» All About To the Moon on ActionTrip|
Whenever someone dares to suggest that video games aren't really art, half the gaming industry becomes scandalized. Gamers, developers, the press and their pets all jump at the opportunity to bark at the doubter, and some even manage to do so in an intelligent manner. I'm not gonna take sides, instead I'll propose another question: are video games good art?
Reviewing video games is not the only thing I do. I'm also an artist and I shall do my best to give you my opinion on what 'good art' is, and whether or not this game qualifies as such. I brought the whole thing up because Freebird Games' point-n-click adventure, To the Moon, is almost universally acclaimed as being indisputable proof that games are indeed art. Truth be told, To the Moon doesn't really feel like a video game. There's no gameplay here to speak of, aside from a couple of simplistic mini-games and a painfully inappropriate and unentertaining zombie shooting sequence. You'll find no puzzles or item combining, and there aren't any choices to be made during conversations. But adventure games are all about the story, right?
It's true, Neil. You really are.
Nice, um, carpet.
Wrong. Adventure games must have decent gameplay too, otherwise what's the point of telling a story within this medium? But sometimes the narrative is so good, that it makes you want to overlook the title's shortcomings. Besides, contrary to pretty much everyone else, I don't think To the Moon has enough to offer in the story department either. It has good intentions and it seems ambitious in many ways, no doubt about it, but thanks to some dubious decisions it falls flat on its face. It poses some interesting questions during the first few hours of play time, and occasionally the game shows some genuine sensitivity. However, To the Moon happily embraces clich's, and eventually it chooses the easy way out by tying everything up with a cute sentimental ribbon.
To the Moon is a love story with some light sci-fi elements. It takes place almost entirely inside a dying man's mind, as two doctors search his memories for clues that might help them fulfill his dying wish: to go to the Moon. Our man, Johnny, doesn't know why he wants to go there; he just knows he wants it more than anything. It's up to the player to guide the two specialists, who if successful, will overwrite Johnny's real memories with fake ones in which his wish came true. As you travel back in time, from the most recent memory to the oldest, you'll get to meet Johnny's wife, River and their closest friends and families. There will, of course, be a few twists and turns along the way, but more than that I won't tell. There's this one bit about a rotting squirrel that I didn't quite understand, but everything else was crystal clear. So, what exactly is my beef with this game?
Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Eva Rosalene and her emotionally stunted colleague, Dr. Neil Watts. They've been sent here by Freebird Games to replace my unpleasant memories of the game with slightly rosier ones. I'm afraid they won't be saying much because they're both gagged and tied to their chairs. Dr. Watts also has a shotgun aimed at his balls. What's that Neil? Grmph, mmmrrr? Good. Neil is simply the most obnoxious character I've ever come across. There are countless moronic and two dimensional characters in gaming, but they're usually found in games where killing stuff is the only thing that matters. This guy here is worse than everyone else. He's the 15 year old internet troll who thinks that feelings are "gay" and hides his insecurities by cracking a lame joke every time some "grown-up thing" happens. Imagine you're watching the opening montage of Pixar's movie Up, while an unfunny version of Al and Peggy Bundy bicker constantly in the background. That's how playing To the Moon feels like.
Several sensitive and humane moments;
Bad gameplay (if you can call it 'gameplay' at all), bad humor, occasionally bland graphics, inconsistent writing that gets too sentimental.