To The Moon has the best story in any video game I have ever played. However, in order for you to experience it I can’t tell you anything about it which makes this a bit of a tough sell but I will give it a shot. The premise is fairly simple, in the future a technology has been developed to change a person’s memories in a setup similar to Total Recall. The procedure is then administered to patients with only days to live so that they can die happily, knowing that all their dreams were fulfilled. To The Moon follows two scientists who are called to grant the wishes of a dying patient named Johnny whose desire is to go to the moon although he is not sure why.
This is where I stop.
The rest is an exploration through one man’s life that is moving and personal. The game falters with the occasional goofy joke and will be classed as slushy sentimentality by some of us hardcore stone-hearted gamers but at it’s core it is a fantastic piece of intimate storytelling. If it were a book it would sit alongside Never Let Me Go and The Time-Travellers Wife as the kind of novel that takes a sci-fi staple and adds a deeply touching human element to it. This is a videogame that could work as a play. Seriously.
Is it really a game? Well I am pretty bored by that question but it’s worth mentioning that the game contains very little actual gameplay. For the most part you are moving characters between scenes with the odd treasure hunt or mini-game to break up the conversations that you are reading. Personally I quite enjoyed these brief interludes and apart from one slight exception towards the end of the game they are never intrusive or difficult – gone before you know it with you put right back in the story.
In the end your enjoyment of To The Moon will be irrelevant of whether you enjoy games and more about whether you enjoy story. Although the developer Freebird games have stated that the game can be completed at around the 5 hour mark I found that as a fast reader I finished the game in just over 3 1/2 hours. For $9.99 this seems steep in game terms but we have all been coloured by the free-to-play model and this is cheaper than a cinema ticket or a new paperback. What I am saying is go and buy it (wait for that inevitable Steam sale if you must). If you are not moved by the end of this amazing tale then you are clinically dead – seek medical help.