On twitter @L1keMike posed the question:
Which game this generation genuinely moved you?
He compiled a few answers into a guest post on his blog, We See In Pixels. It’s great to see other people’s answers to this question, how varied they are and the reasons for their choices. I found it quite a hard question to answer – if it were simply “What was your favourite game of this gen?” I don’t know if I would necessarily have answered the same. However while I knew that some of the champions of this gen, The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, etc would be the top of some people’s lists, I am a believer in the idea that you can create moving, immersive, emotional experiences without a big budget. (What originally got me thinking about this was a really interesting talk on this by Georg Backer on GDC Vault).
So for my answer to this question – a game made by a small Canadian game developer, created in RPG Maker:
To The Moon
When I played Freebird Games’ “To The Moon” last year, it only took me around 4 hours to complete. I did it in one sitting. But ever since I watched the final scene play out, I cannot talk about the games that made a lasting impression on me without this one jumping to mind. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking and sentimental game in which you play as two scientists – Rosalene and Watts (one of the best double-acts I’ve seen in a game honestly) – who are tasked with fulfilling people’s dying wishes. The dying widower John wishes to go to the moon, only he’s really not sure why. Throughout the game you play through flashbacks of John’s memories, experiencing what he experienced, and feeling what he felt, through his childhood and into married life with his sweetheart River.
This game is a feat of storytelling, one which turns the most ordinary human experiences into scenes which have more impact than any AAA+ game I have played this gen. Whilst playing as the dynamic duo you really care about John and fulfilling his dying wish, and witness the feeling of urgency at solving the mystery before his body passes onto the next life. When you reach the final scenes of the game and every piece of the puzzle slots into place it packs a punch, and you will forget the fact that you are looking at a bunch of pixel-y sprites on the screen. To The Moon was the first game I can remember that made me cry, and that is why I will treasure it for a very long time.