Don’t get me wrong, I’m really enjoying the ongoing playthrough of Recettear, but I had this thought that it might be nice to play a game that I know definitely has an ending. See, Recettear seems like it might just carry on pretty much forever with us just continuing our struggles to pay off Recette’s dad’s infinite fairy debt (a sentence which may not make an awful lot of sense if you haven’t read the Let’s Play posts), which is great but means that I’ll never get to play anything else unless I start on a new LP before Recettear’s is done.
So I had a little think and a sift through my Steam backlog, and settled on To The Moon, an indie game I know very little about other than a vague recollection that it got really good reviews when it was first released a few years ago. I’ve not played it before, but I had a quick peek at some spoiler-free reviews and it sounds as if it ought to be possible to play through the entire story relatively fast; we might be able to wrap up an entire playthrough in only a few posts, which would be pretty satisfying! From what I can tell, it’s made to look like a 16-bit RPG, and apparently the soundtrack’s really good. And that’s… pretty much all I can find out without risk of learning more than I ought to know, which I don’t much want to do because most of the spoiler-free reviews specifically say that it’s best to play through this with a fresh and un-spoilered mind first time.
So let’s dive in!
Okay, this is a pretty nice opening screen, if nothing special, but MY GOD THE MUSIC. I get the feeling I might have to post links to each track as the game goes on if it keeps up like this. What an opening theme.
WELL DONE KAN GAO AND LAURA SHIGIHARA YOU DID WELL
The main theme fades out as the camera pans down over a lighthouse, briefly fades to sepiatone and back again as it travels across a house, and then travels inside. The music’s replaced by a solo piano version that seems to be being played by a girl inside, watched by a boy.
Suddenly, there’s what sounds like a screech of tyres and a crash from outside…
Okay, so we’ve got Dr Rosalene and Dr (Neil) Watts. Wonder what they’re here for? Were they just passing by and crashed outside the house, or is the house where they’re supposed to be?
Neil’s response is that this is a company car and that everything’s therefore pretty much fine. I like this guy. Rosalene points out that it’s still not exactly ideal, since their boss is probably going to kill them. Neil’s response?
The music that plays during this scene, by the way, is ‘Between a Squirrel and a Tree‘, which I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by. According to Rosalene, the boss is more of a cat person; Neil wonders why the world has to be so complicated.
Yes, this crisis is clearly solved.
Okay, so we’re clearly here for a reason if there’s a report to be written. Not only that, but we brought equipment of some sort. Are we medical doctors?
The first thing I clicked on was actually the squirrel, but since we had to go through the car to get to it I guess the game registered that I was actually selecting the car. I think we’re in control of Neil.
Er… does she mean ‘sucker’ in, like, an idiomatic sense, or was the so-called equipment just a plunger? Are we doctors of plumbing?
Dr Rosalene’s first name is Eva, so let’s refer to our protagonists apparent as Neil and Eva. Neil’s a technician specialist, which I assume means some sort of combination of the two rather than someone who specialises in technicians, and Eva’s a senior memory traversal agent, both working for something called Sigmund Corp. I guess that means we’re not medical doctors as such, but either some kind of neurologists or… detectives who go through people’s memories for some reason?
We’ve got no notes for now, and in our inventory we’ve just got the mysterious ‘equipment’. Up top, a message reading ‘Patient Offline’ keeps flashing. Let’s investigate this squirrel…
I’m getting a sense of the relationship between these two, which is nice. I suspect Eva’s the senior colleague, but Neil seems too light-hearted to care about that sort of thing.
I guess we’re here to see someone in the Wyles family, then. Good thing we’ve crashed right outside where we need to be! As we move to the next screen, Neil turns and locks the car. It’s important to be secure when your car’s a tree-totalled wreck. We head up the rather nice path – revealing that we are in fact in control of Eva, though Neil follows her step for step – in what I guess is the Wyles’ front garden, only to be foiled.
In response to Eva wondering what the boulder’s doing there, which is a totally reasonable question, Neil suggests that perhaps it’s their security system. Eva’s response? Cucumbers.
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that to be a suggestion. I figured this was a Pokémon situation where boulders were just totally unmovable without particular abilities. Neil suggests finding a branch to use as a lever to help them move the rock, then realises that it might be easier if they just call it a night and blame it on the whole ‘impassable boulder’ situation. We’re presented with three options: push the rock by hand, find a branch, or just give up and go home.
I never can resist taking the obvious stupid option.
Neil’s a man after my own heart, but as expected we’re not going to be able to just wander off and forget about it. I was almost hoping there’d be a non-standard game over where we really do just bugger off. Well, we’ll try it by hand and see what happens.
We are in fact able to simply push the boulder, though this causes it to bounce around in a very un-boulder-like sort of way. Well, the path is clear and that’s the important thing! Moving on, a couple of squirrels surprise me by running across the screen just slightly too fast for me to catch a screenshot of them.
We reach the front of the house; Eva and Neil head on up and knock on the door automatically once we get within a certain distance. It’s sort of a shame; I was hoping to have a bit more of a look around outside. In the house, the girl’s playing the piano version of the theme again, though she stops when she hears us at the door. The boy calls to let his mum know we’ve arrived; seems the family are expecting us. A woman – I assume the boy’s mother, and I’d guess that he and the girl are siblings – looks out of one of the windows, then heads down. I assume Eva’s comment about it being a good place to retire means that we’re here to see an older person; given that we apparently deal in ‘memory traversal’, maybe we do some sort of… assistance for people who struggle to remember things?
The two muse that it’s probably likely to be another all-nighter, and lament that they probably don’t have coffee in the house. The door opens, and we trundle on in.
Wow. Neil’s a bit blunt. I’m starting to get some more ideas as to what it might be that we do: if we deal with people who are close to death, or perhaps even dead already, maybe we do some kind of memory extraction to allow their loved ones to relive precious moments? Or perhaps we just make sure that a dying person’s last memory is a happy one? Anyway, the woman introduces herself as Lily; she’s the patient’s caretaker, not his daughter (Eva specifically asks whether she’s his daughter, so I wonder whether there is in fact a daughter we’re going to meet later). Sarah and Tommy, the kids, are hers. They seem pretty at home given that they’re in the house of a person their mother cares for, so perhaps she’s the kind of caretaker who lives in the house?
Question answered. Seems Johnny Wyles is the patient, or our client, whatever the case turns out to be. Neil seems a bit surprised, assuming that ‘Johnny’ must be a kid’s name, but Lily clarifies that it is in fact an older man who just goes by Johnny.
Well, that seems like confirmation that we are not in fact medical doctors. Johnny’s still alive, it seems, but based on what Neil said earlier I’m assuming he might not be long for this world.
I have a quick poke around, but we’re not allowed to explore anywhere else before going upstairs to meet our patient.
I’m pretty sure this sheet music corresponds to the piece the girl was playing. Seems Johnny Wyles wrote it for someone called River – maybe a daughter or a wife? (I’m assuming River is a person and not just an actual river, which is perfectly plausible.) Since we’ve not got too much choice in the matter, we head upstairs.
As soon as we’re out of sight, the kids dart out and start playing the song again. I’m pretty certain now that ‘For River’ is the song they’re playing, which was also part of the main theme. Meanwhile, up the stairs…
How long we have for what? I mean, I’m sure I’m about to find out, but I can’t help but be curious about what exactly a memory traversal specialist does. Seems to be something that doesn’t require the subject (patient, whatever you want to call it) to be conscious, since Johnny’s evidently close to passing on.
I quickly check out the paintings in the lower part of the room before talking to Lily. There’s a lighthouse, probably the one behind the house; a woman holding something yellow and blue; an animal of some sort; and a ‘casual painting of three people’. I don’t think we can work out who those three are just yet, but I’m going to take a leap and say that Johnny himself probably painted these. Or, if not Johnny, maybe River; I don’t think they’re meaningless, put it that way.
I’m astonished this contraption, whatever it is, fit in that box – even if it was heavy enough that Neil was constantly moaning about it.
Asking the doctor how Johnny’s doing gives us a not-particularly-optimistic prognosis:
A day or two is plenty of time, apparently.
We’re… wish-granters? Eva says we can’t guarantee success, though Neil’s quick to point out that we always succeed due to being awesome. So what’s the wish?
I guess the name of the game should have clued me in. Putting two and two together, I guess we’re going to be altering Johnny’s memories so that he believes in his last moments that he got to go to the moon. Neil opines that the geezers are getting crazier, so I guess he’s seen some progressively weird wishes in his career. Apparently, whether this is going to be possible ‘depends’, though on what isn’t clear; Eva asks Lily what she knows about Johnny.
Going out on a limb, I’m going to say his wife’s name was probably River. Lily doesn’t know a lot of the details, so we’re going to need to scope out the house a bit because… I guess we need to understand a bit about this guy in order to successfully play around with his memories?
I get a choice as to which of the two doctors I’ll play as in our new quest to scope out the house for clues. I’m going with Neil, since I imagine his flavour text might be pretty amusing.
Next time: we go downstairs, I guess!