Well here we are! Welcome to the first week of the ‘To the Moon’ play-along. A huge thank-you to everyone who is participating, too! I’ll add links to other participants posts as I find them right here. :) It’s not too late to join in if you’d like to as well, though. All the necessary details can be found at that link too.

Please note — if you have not yet played To the Moon that there will be spoilers in these posts. Specifically in this post — I will discuss the details of Act 1.

Feel free to turn away and perhaps return later if you intend to playthrough for yourself at some point and would rather not be spoiled.

With that out of the way — let’s get down to the questions!

Act 1 Questions

1. Let’s start off with the big guns — at the completion of Act 1 — how do you now feel about the very concept of granting someone’s dying wish by overwriting their memories with new ones?

I understand the desire. But in a very real sense we are our memories. Our life experiences define us and how we perceive the world around us.

The memory overwrite is so comprehensive that the subject no longer has any inkling of what their ‘real’ life was. Those old memories are obliterated. From childhood right the way through.

I suppose in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of this — Sigmund Corporation won’t provide this wish-fulfilment service to anyone not, quite literally, on their death bed. The subject is intended to pass with the new memories implanted — believing they lived a life that lead to the achievement of their greatest dream.

And when looked at in that perspective… What’s the harm?

Without spoiling anything about it — To the Moon’s sequel ‘Finding Paradise’ explores these themes in the context of someone, who, unlike Johnny is leaving behind a wife and family who struggle with the notion that their loved one wishes to pass with memory of a different life.

2. What did you think of River’s choice to put her treatment behind that of Anya?

I didn’t get it. I just simply could not relate. How could she put an inanimate object that had stood years without her and would for years after, ahead of more time with her husband? Her health?

If there was some uncertainty as to the outcome… Particularly if the procedures themselves were going to be awful, I could begin to understand perhaps. But at least from the context given in the game it seemed a near enough sure thing that she could be healed.

I think that perhaps, particularly at this point in the game, not understanding might be the point. River isn’t — to borrow Isabelle’s term — ‘neurotypical’. She doesn’t think like I do and, clearly, our value structures are different.

I see ‘Anya’ as an object. A thing. Just a lighthouse. One that holds significant sentimental value — for sure. But still ultimately a thing. River doesn’t. Anya has been anthromorphised to the point of being considered part of the family. A child perhaps, particularly given River and Johnny never had their own otherwise.

And putting your child, or someone else you love ahead of yourself? I can relate to that. For whatever differences River and I might have in how we see the world — this is a value we hold in common.

3. In response to Neil commenting that it was like watching a train-wreck unfold, Eva says, “The ending isn’t any more important than the moments leading up to it.” Do you agree?

No. But also, yes. … It depends.

In the context of what Eva and Neil are doing, tracking backwards through Johnny’s memories I can see her point and understand why she would say it. I would even agree. What’s done is done and each moment — including the end — are but another chapter, each only holding as much value as they are assigned.

But for us, here, living life in the moment and in a forward direction — there are consequences to our actions and our choices still to come. Living life pretending otherwise will come to no good end sooner or later. But I suppose here when I say ‘end’, I don’t necessarily mean end of life. But rather that there will be multiple journey’s ends — and beginnings — as we go through life.

…So perhaps Eva and I are thinking the same thing after all…

4. What did you make of Johnny’s decision not to read the book offered by Dr. Lee?

I didn’t like it. I took it as a rejection of being willing to even learn about how he might better support River, or even himself!

We saw time and again the uncertainty and doubt he went through, not knowing how to handle things both before and after this point in the timeline.

By this point in my first playthrough of To the Moon…

5. How do you feel about Johnny as a person now, particularly after his revelation of why he (at least initially?) was interested in River?

…I remember being fairly dark on Johnny as a character. I remember thinking him selfish, for all sorts of reasons. Not being willing to read Tony Attwood’s book when offered and essentially leaving River to it all on her own being a significant part of this.

Probably even moreso than the highschool conversation revealing why Johnny was initially interested in River. You expect some degree of selfish behaviour at that age. It just seemed like Johnny had never really grown out of it.

But I will I suppose call out that one thing I didn’t judge him too harshly for was wanting to lie to River about their finances in relation to completing their house vs. her medical bills. By which I don’t mean to say I think it was the right thing to do… Just that I understand it. I couldn’t be certain that, in his position, I wouldn’t have done exactly the same.

6. We saw River’s obsession with origami rabbits very early in the piece — and some of the events that tracked back as a possible origin along the way. After Johnny told her about his initial motivations is when it all kicked off. Neil thought it might’ve been River holding onto a grudge. What do you think?

I think in this instance, Neil is wrong and that Eva was correct in thinking there was more to it.

We’d heard conversations up until this point about how difficult it was — from Johnny’s perspective — to ‘tell’ if River loved him or not. It is not something she could capably express in a conventional sense.

While having played through the game (several times now) I do know why the rabbit specifically and won’t spoil that, I think the original theory I had with my first playthrough still possibly holds water.

My theory was that in Johnny revealing to River how he initially felt and why he was interested… In telling her that he had a need to have what made her different in his life to feel alright… That he inadvertently gave her a way to attempt expressing her love. By leaning into what made her different even harder, in an effort to give Johnny what he needed to be OK.


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

9 Comments

Rakuno · June 6, 2020 at 3:11 am

Alright, I am already loving this Play-Along. It is pretty interesting to see how different our visions are of the same plot points. Now I am even more curious to play the game, see how the story develops and what people talk about it. :)

    Naithin · June 6, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Aye, the shared talking points with the differences in views was always the best part of these things in the read-along version. I’m so glad to see it’s proving true so far here too!

    I’ve updated the Play-Along page with everyone’s post that I’ve found so far too. Hoping to add more as we go! :D

The Masked Gamer Gal · June 6, 2020 at 4:40 am

Love this game so much, I’m glad you’re playing it !

Alli · June 6, 2020 at 9:50 am

He could’ve just taken the book and then decided later if he was going to read it or not if he wasn’t sure. I saw it more as a blatant disregard for what she was going through, which honestly didn’t make sense to me since he seems deeply in love with River. Thanks for running this play-along! I’m enjoying reading all the responses.

    Naithin · June 6, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Agree. Unless like you said in your post, he was following River’s lead in not pursuing the knowledge. But we know this isn’t the case. In that exchange it is in fact River who asks for some reading material on the condition.

    I guess what we don’t definitively know is if this was just his initial kneejerk reaction that later on, ‘off camera’ as it were, he changed his mind on and read or otherwise did some research on his own. Although I think not given the continued struggle he seemed to have without much impression given that he understood much about it.

      Alli · June 6, 2020 at 10:06 am

      From a storytelling perspective it doesn’t make sense for him to not read the book and change his mind later on but have the audience never know about that. So unless we learn later that he did read the book (or do something else to learn about River’s condition) showing this to us is probably meant as an insight to Johnny’s character.

        Naithin · June 6, 2020 at 10:14 am

        We know he talks to Isabelle somewhat regularly. But it is through those conversations that I am lead to believe he never did read the book.

        From a story point of view and whether it would make sense not to inform the audience… Not so sure there. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it is meant as an insight to his character. But I wonder how much of that is meant to focus on being an insight to his character in that moment in time, specifically, vs. more generally. Plus with how we’re being told the story essentially in reverse during Act 1 — letting us know he read it later (in advance, to our perspective) would’ve removed the impact of this moment when we arrived at it.

Jeromai · June 6, 2020 at 2:08 pm

People react in different ways to startling news and sudden changes that leave their footing cut out from under them. Fear and denial can be one of the reactions. Some also prefer to live in ignorance because accepting the burden of knowledge seems too scarily like an irrevocable turning point, a sort of acknowledgement and loss of what had gone on before.

It reminds me a lot of my extended family of relatives. We’ve had a few very elderly family members with varying stages of dementia, and while some people are open to learning more about the condition and how best to caregive, there are others who simply refuse to acknowledge what is going on because that would imply irrevocably that said folks with dementia are somehow no longer their original selves. The thought that said folks are no longer able to care for themselves is just too terrifying a fact to accept or acknowledge.

Johnny not accepting the book right there in the clinic may not be an optimal choice, but it can still be understandable.

    Naithin · June 6, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I think that you’re right in that there are understandable reasons for wanting — or even needing — to at that moment reject the information. Within reason, I don’t think it’s wrong to protect yourself and take the necessary time to adapt to new information before taking on more.

    Perhaps I was judging him too harshly at this point in the game.

    Because on reflection I’m not sure I’d judge anyone I know in the real life the same way for the same action at the same time.

    It would become more of a problem, I suppose, if it continued on and on without ever that progress being made to the next step.

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