I waited far too long to actually play To the Moon, which sat in my digital collection for far too long, and so, after beating it and reading up on Kan Gao and his future plans for the series, I discovered that a minisode–that’s a mini episode for those not in the know–was released, for free, back in January 2014. It’s called the To the Moon Holiday Special Minisode, and I’m going to liken it to post-game DLC or a deleted scene from a really solid, well-paced movie. I did not wait far too long to play it.
Lasting around under an hour, this post-game snippet is set at the offices of Sigmund Corp, the organization for which Dr. Neil Watts and Dr. Eva Rosalene work. As you’ll remember from To the Moon, their work involves providing new memories for the dying, so they can see their dreams and desires fulfilled before passing on. It’s the end of the year, and the company is throwing a holiday party, stocked up on alcoholic drinks and cake, as every good party should be. However, there are protesters outside, tossing tomatoes and pumping signs in the air, which is a bit of a downer for everyone, now not sure if their work is immoral and wrong.
To the Moon Holiday Special Minisode does not try to answer that question. They are a business, they provide a service, and some approve more than others. You could easily put memory-tweaking next to hot-button topics like abortion and the death penalty, which is touchy territory, but it’s handled quietly and innocently here. Eva has her doubts and isn’t afraid to speak her mind about them. Personally, I’m okay with messing with a dying soul’s memories, to give them that one burst of triumph before everything goes black–I’d like that myself. There’s some great relationship development here between Eva and Neil, and you get to meet several other employees, who I hope show up in future installments.
Gameplay is mostly the same as To the Moon, but even lesser so. You can walk around the tiny sections of Sigmund Corp’s headquarters as either Neil or Eva, interact with a few things, and speak to people at the Christmas party. You are no longer collecting shards of memory to power a memento and such–in fact, there’s no menus or even save options. You’ll spend a large portion of this minisode playing a retro PC game that Neil made, inspired by Johnny Wyles and his lighthouse. It is a simple maze adventure, starring the disembodied heads of familiar characters. The player controls Neil’s head and needs to collect mementos to open up parts of the maze, all while avoiding zombie versions of Eva that take off one heart with each hit. It’s the most “gamey” To the Moon gets, but not difficult…more of a cute diversion. The maze itself looks like zoomed in puzzles from Pushmo, each inspired by the previous game’s settings.
I’m thinking I need to play A Bird Story sooner than later, as I’m loving these story-driven tales of melancholy from Freebird Games. All I know about it is that it’s a prelude to Finding Paradise, which will be To the Moon‘s true sequel.