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To The Moon: a community play-along, part three

Following on from last Friday’s post, we’re now back with part three of the To The Moon play-along. This community event is being hosted by Naithin from Time to Loot and everyone is invited to join in: simply play the game and then participate in conversations based around several questions after each section.

The third set of discussion points have been published so it’s time to see what we all thought of Act 3. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve completed To The Moon on multiple occasions and it’s one of the video games which define me, so does that familiarity mean its ending has lost some of its impact? You’ll have to read on to find out and I’ll cover some of my thoughts on the story’s conclusion in the answers below. One thing is guaranteed though: there’s going to be plenty of emotion along with a few spoilers.

If you haven’t yet played To The Moon and intend to do so, I’d recommend navigating away from this post now and coming back later. There are major spoilers in the following paragraphs which will mar your enjoyment of the game.

Question 11: it seems that after the accident, Johnny lost his identity to his mother and became a replacement-Joey. Does it change how you feel about Johnny as compared to your Act 1 impressions?

As mentioned in my first post, it’s certainly true that Johnny can come across as cold or superficial thanks to some of his decisions in the first act of the game. Back then he revealed to friend Nick that part of his reason for being interested in River was because he wanted to be different and ‘something more’. I said that he should be cut some slack because he was a teenager at the time; most of us went through similar feelings during that awkward period of our lives, and many bad teenage choices can be forgiven.

But I’m not sure my understanding of Johnny’s desire to be unique has been as clear as it is now, and I think this is the result of reading the thoughts of others taking part in the play-along. The protagonist wanted to break out of the mould his mother had created for him in her grief – although he couldn’t properly explain this wish, due to the memory-fading effects of the beta blockers given to him after his twin-brother’s accident. He had no recollection of the event and yet it went on to shape his personality and relationship with River at a deep level. It’s just so sad.

Question 12: Eva and Neil have a verbal sparring match on their differing views about the contract versus what would make Johnny happier. Do you sympathise with one view over the other here?

To The Moon, video game, boy, Johnny, River, girl, night, sky, starsTalk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. The choice given to the doctors at this point wasn’t an easy one to make. Do they stick to the contract they’ve been assigned and remove a loved one from their unconscious patient’s memories, knowing that this isn’t really what he’d want? Or do they screw the paperwork and do what they needed to do to make him happy, and face the possibility of court hearings because they went against their legal obligations? It’s no wonder the duo got into an argument during this section.

I’ve always tended to side with Eva because she comes across as being more understanding than Neil, but he scored some major points here. He’d always scoffed at any mention of emotion or affection up until this point but now he was displaying something deeper. When he realised what his partner was about to do, he said: ‘#@%& the contract! I didn’t take this job to make him miserable.’ I couldn’t help but side with him despite being aware of the consequences, and it’s clear there are a few things Neil is trying to hide (not least the painkillers from Act 2).

Question 13: throughout that same exchange, Eva asks Neil to trust her. He clearly didn’t. Did you?

To The Moon, video game, school, Eva, Neil, doctors, trustI definitely didn’t trust her during this section when I first played To The Moon. Eva comes across as being an extremely logical analyser and any new player could be forgiven for thinking she was going to simply erase River. The pressure of the situation and Johnny’s impending moment of death make it difficult to truly understand what she’s revealing when she says: ‘I’m only risking losing River because I believe in her.’ I’m not sure the doctor’s friendship or even working relationship would have survived if she hadn’t managed to pull off the result.

Question 14: Eva says: ‘He can always find another River, but he’ll only ever have one brother.’ Do you agree? What about this in the context of overwritten memories as opposed to life as it was?

To The Moon, video game, NASA, Eva, Neil, River, JohnnyThis is possibly the question I’ve found the hardest to answer during the play-along event. Maybe that’s because I’m a romantic at heart and believe there’s a soul mate somewhere out there for everybody. The whole reason why Johnny wanted to go to the moon was because of River, regardless of him being unable to remember their first meeting; so having to risk her to make that wish happen seems not only counterintuitive but slightly wrong. As Neil said to Eva: ‘If that means removing River, then what’s the point?!’

Joey may have been saved in the new reality created by the doctors and the protagonist might have then been able to spend a lifetime with his twin-brother, but his recollection of all those real experiences with his wife would have been entirely forgotten if she’d been erased. I can only admire Eva for having so much faith in River and Johnny and believing there was a chance for them to still end up together after she was moved. To quote Neil once more: ‘It could’ve gone very badly, y’know.’

Question 15: any final thoughts?

There’s a good reason why my other-half and stepson say that To The Moon is ‘the crying game’. I honestly believed I wouldn’t cry this time because I’ve played it so much and could prepare myself for the emotions; hell, I even thought I’d be capable of streaming it. But now I’m glad the stream didn’t work out and I had to finish the playthrough by myself because, as soon as it to the part with the song Everything’s Alright, I sobbed my heart out. And then just as I’d composed myself, I did it again at the end when Johnny held hands with River in the rocket.

I just can’t help myself. This game inspires strong emotions and I love the way so many small plot elements – things which don’t seem important initially and are just there to add colour to the world – actually play a far bigger part in Johnny and River’s story. Having a wish to go to a place inspired by someone you love dearly, only to face having to lose that person in order to make that wish come true; it has to be one of the saddest stories. And yet To The Moon ends up being one of the most bittersweet.

Have you played To The Moon and if so, what did you think of it? The game may be over but the play-along continues, as we’ll now be playing Sigmund Minisode 1 and 2 and there’ll be another post in the series coming next Friday. There’s still time to take part if you haven’t already signed up: all the details you need are in this article on Time to Loot.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

4 thoughts on “To The Moon: a community play-along, part three Leave a comment

  1. I turned on Eva so fast during this section on my first time through. So, so fast.

    And I forgot almost every detail of the game from when I first played close to 9 years ago and now — but not that part. I couldn’t remember exactly why she did it until I got here again, or what her hope was — but I remembered that it happened and how I’d felt about it way back then with a stunning clarity.

    For all that — bringing both Joey and River back was not something I recalled, and yep… It hit me right in the feels all over again. There may or may not have been ninja’s cutting onions somewhere nearby. *sniff*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those damn ninjas and their onions… 😭

      I still can’t believe this game has managed to make me cry every single time I play it! I really prepared myself for it and the tears still managed to come through. I’m going to attempt to complete the Sigmund Minisodes later today, and I’ve got the tissues ready just in case…

      Liked by 1 person

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