“They’ll give you a second chance, and they’ll let you relive your life.”

“All the way…from the very beginning.”

“Change one thing, fulfill one wish.”

“You know what you’d wish for, don’t you?”

“But just remember…”

“It will be the last thing you ever do.”

2020142-to_the_moon_launch_poster_medWhat defines a thing of excellence? Is it money, fame, or notoriety? Maybe, but oftentimes it is none of these things. Perhaps, in the end, it is the most simple and pure of things in life that truly make all the difference.

Imagine a machine that can make your one, true dream become reality. However, this machine cannot simply be utilized at any given moment; rather only at the very end of one’s life, in their very last moments. It is less a physical accomplishment and more a subconscious effort where those in charge of the machine traverse through cherished memories in order to find that one place in time that will set you on the correct course to fulfill your final wish.

In Freebird Games title To the Moon, it follows the last days and memories of Johnny Wyles and those that risk everything to make his dream come true. Two doctors of Sigmund Corp are assigned to Johnny’s case: Dr. Eva Rosaline and Dr. Neil Watts; and these two soon face a heart-wrenching trial in completing their assigned task. Johnny’s wish is to go to the moon. Sounds simple enough, right? But here is the catch: he has no idea why he wants this so bad; which not only makes things more difficult for the doctors, but ultimately gives them no place to start from. Memory by memory, Eva and Neil must transcend various years of Johnny’s life from his current age to his childhood to try and discover why he wants to go to the moon and then implement the idea to his younger self and make it a reality.

Playing more like a visual novel than your generic platformer, To the Moon takes audiences by their heart strings through Johnny’s story, through his life. Laughter, smiles, confusion and tears will accompany your journey as you take control of one of the two doctors and piece together memory fragments throughout each period of time.

To the Moon is truly unlike any game, any story, any experience you may have had; and what makes it all the more incredible is that it isn’t accomplished by an outstanding graphical achievement, diverse soundtrack or fluid controls. The mastery itself lies in the story this game weaves. A story that admittedly starts out a bit slow yet draws you into its inescapable grasp before you even realize it.freebird_games_to_the_moon_1162681_g1

In regards to graphics, music and controls; none of these features are particularly notorious by any means on their own, but they are not flawed either…they simply might not be what you would normally expect to find in today’s gaming world. Graphics reigning from a colorful 16-bit era show everything you need as you side scroll the characters throughout the areas finding intriguing clues and dialogue via simple keyboard and mouse controls. The soundtrack of this game comes through piano solos and serenades; which stands not only as a fitting accompaniment but also holds significant relevance to the story. Its one alternative being a singular vocal track, sung by Laura Shigihara, at one of the most pivotal and emotion moments in the game.

Even as emotion driven as the main story is, let’s not pretend the game doesn’t hold a fair amount of humor and mockery to it as well. From snarky remarks between the doctors to amusing situations within Johnny’s past, there are many moments that will literally have you laughing out loud. The game also makes many classic references to various TV shows, anime and trends of current and past years to include: Neil screaming “Kamehameha” as he breaks through a memory shield, fighting zombies by throwing cactus plants at them, a final fantasy-esque battle between Eva and a rampant squirrel and even mention of those little Tamogatchi virtual pets (to even give a small glimpse as to what is in store).

I feel as though there is so much to say about this game…yet I would never deprive anyone of having the experience of playing it for the first time themselves. Going into this game with naught but a recommendation left me entirely unprepared for what I would be witnessing. The people in our lives, our dreams, our hopes – what does it all come down to in the end? Everything seems to simple, yet within that simplicity lies one of the most heartfelt, beautiful and well told stories I have ever heard.

If you could go back, back to the beginning, and change anything to make just one dream come true…would you?

“Until the stars all fall down”

“They empty from the sky”

“But I don’t mind”

“…If you’re with me, then everything’s alright.”