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I bought To The Moon when it was on sale during the Steam Winter Sale of 2012, along with some more profile games like Mass Effect 1 and 2. However, this game stood out the most to me. Recently, xl9 also bought the game during the Steam Summer Sale, and I urged him to play through it, considering how much I loved the game's story. He completed it recently, and I suggested doing a co-op blog about the game, considering how he reacted to the game like I did. So, that's what you're reading now-our blog with the top ten moments in the game, split in two. If you haven't read the 6-10 yet, you should do those first, and you can read them here.
There's a reason they're both on my Wonderful 101 List.
Each of the entries in the top ten will have an, er, entry from me and xl9, for both our perspectives, which makes the entire list twice as long, and thus split in two. We hope you all enjoy our picks! And, if you haven't played this game...go do it, now. The game is wonderful, is cheap on Steam, and deserves more praise than half the AAA games that came out last year. Dr. Neil Watts and Dr. Eva Rosalene are great protagonists, and their trek through Johnny Wyles' memories lets loose a flood of emotions. Also, if you want to-listen to this while reading...the soundtrack of this game is phenomenal, and really captures the emotion of it. The best track is For River, but I feel the main theme is better for reading...so, if you want to...play it, and read on...
5. Attack of the Zombievas!
Destroyer: After Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene discover why exactly Johnny wants to go to the moon, Dr. Rosalene decides to do some major re-adjusting of Johnny's memories, which includes taking River away from meeting Johnny in high school. Dr. Watts protests to this, and so Dr. Rosalene tries to stop him from stopping her by messing with the world and creating a long, looping hallway. It's actually pretty funny, seeing this moment, considering the action in it, but after trekking through it a bit, Dr. Watts encounters zombies that look like Dr. Rosalene...and thus...ZOMBIEVAS! Oh, and Dr. Watts fights them by throwing household plants.
xl9: At one point in the game, Eva tries to stop Neil from reaching John and River. She does so by distorting the fabric of space and time itself. She even summons zombie version of herself to stop Neil from making it to the end of the corridor. This entire sequence just showed off the power that the scientists control, and how devastating it can be in the wrong hands.
4. Without River
Destroyer: This is a montage, and it sort of starts with this moment. It follows Dr. Rosalene's manipulation of Johnny's memories to remember Joey not dying, and not meeting River in high school. It's happy and sad at once, because you know Johnny will believe everything is happy and free and that he will end up with River, if she also remembered to meet him on the moon, but also that those moments, like their wedding, the time at the movie theater, and more...it's just, a sad thought, even though things end up "happy". And, this plays during it...which just, makes it better...as a moment...but worse...in my heart...
xl9: After Eva removes River from time, you get to see the rest of Johnny’s memories play out differently. While there is no dialogue exchanged, the fantastic song “Everything’s Alright” sets the mood perfectly. It’s a sad moment that can deliver all of the emotion without a single line.
3. Joey's Death
Destroyer: The bunk beds. Once you see them, like Dr. Rosalene did, you understand the truth of the matter. Johnny has a long forgotten twin brother, who died after being hit by his mother who was pulling out of the driveway. After this, Johnny was given a large dose of medicine by his mother, which made him forget this terrible incident. And yet, the effect of it still destroys Johnny's life, in a sense-he forgets he ever met River, and this makes their marriage fracture in the end, and well, it's just, that butterfly effect happening. R.I.P. Joey.
xl9: The biggest mystery of the game is why some of John’s memories are repressed. When you finally get into his earliest memories, you realize why. John’s mother ran over his brother Joey. John’s mother lost her mind, and John himself took medications to block out his memories. It was tragic to watch, but it finally made sense of why Johnny didn’t know why he wanted to go to the moon. He forgot.
2. To The Moon (Ending)
Destroyer: While technically not the last scene (as there is an epilogue with Dr. Watts and Rosalene after Johnny's death), it really is the considered ending of the game, and in it we see Johnny and River launch in a rocket to the moon. Of course, this is still all fabricated by Johnny's memories and desires, but it's still happy to know that he dies thinking he and River spent their life together happily. It's a sad, happy moment, and it finishes off a game I don't think I'll ever forget.
xl9: The ending is perfect. All of Eva and Neil’s hard work paid off, and John can be happy again. However, the new memory never gets to finish. John’s heart rate slows to a crawl, and he dies before the rocket lands on the moon. But he gets to do one last thing before he dies. He holds River’s hand and they stare at each other before John dies. There isn’t any better way for this story to end.
1. The Carnival Night
Destroyer: This memory, surpressed by the beta blockers given to Johnny following Joey's death, is the big one. It's the first time Johnny and River actually meet, instead of when he thinks, in high school. They look up at the stars together, and draw a constellation that's a rabbit with a belly made up of the moon. That's why River made the multi-colored Rabbit-it was white in he belly, and blue everywhere else, like the night sky. It's a magical moment in the game, and for the two of them. We also see the origins of the platypus, given to River by Johnny after he won it in a whack-a-mole game at the carnival. This moment, coupled with knowing that Johnny loses memory of it, explains why Johnny and River grow apart in their later years, and well...it's the best moment in the game.
xl9: This is the moment where the game really tied together. Johnny’s experience at the mountaintop near the Carnival is the only gaming moment in recent memory that actually made me cry. Just seeing Johnny talk to River for the first time, and watching a friendship build that Johnny so selfishly destroyed was heartbreaking. This is when I knew that this game wasn’t just one of the best stories ever told in gaming, it was THE very best. This is the moment that all other sad moments in games have to live up to. Nothing in the Walking Dead or Heavy Rain can even come close to how powerful this moment was.
Honorable Mention: The montage where Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene try to convince Johnny at random points in his life to pursue a career as an astronaut, after their normal plan fails (planting the idea at a young age).
The Moment that's not Really a Moment: When you realize that even though Johnny will die happy, River still died sad, and Joey was killed when they were both young. None of this really happened, except in Johnny's mind...in the end, almost nothing changed...it's just...this is, I feel, possibly the saddest moment...where you realize this. It's not like anyone says this in the game really, outright...it's just..the truth..and it's this that gets to me more than anything...
Well, there, that's the end of it...I hope everyone enjoyed this joint venture between me and xl9, about this wonderful, wonderful game. I love it, and hope that all of you who have played agree with me. If you haven't played it, and are reading this-go play it, now. It's so wonderfully spun as a story, and deserves to have more recognition by the gaming community. I can't wait for Freebird Games to release the second episode, and continue the ventures of Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts.