Welcome to the fourth week of the ‘To the Moon’ play-along. Again, a huge thank-you to everyone who is participating! I’ve added links to other participants posts right here and I will do so again for Minisodes posts. If I’ve missed yours, let me know and I’ll get it there ASAP! :)
Please note — if you have not yet played the two Minisodes that follow on from To the Moon that there will be spoilers in these posts. Spoilers may cover the entirety of To the Moon in addition to the Minisodes themselves.
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!
There were but two questions this time around. Two questions but with perhaps longer answers, at least the second!
1) Protesters. Perhaps not too surprising to find they exist in this world. Many of us were not entirely comfortable with the concept of what Sigmund Corp does. What did you think about getting a look behind the curtain as it were, and seeing some of the responses of the employees?
If Sigmund Corp existed in the real world, I can’t imagine that there wouldn’t be protests. I imagine they would also largely (but not exclusively) be the domain of the religious. As I noted in the question, many of us were not entirely comfortable with the idea of granting fleeting happiness in the moments before death at the cost of erasing the memories of a lifetime.
Perhaps another group of people who would protest would be those who feel robbed of their loved ones, twice over. Once by their passing and again by the knowledge that, possibly, they were not even in the mind of their father, mother, or spouse at the time they passed.
That would be an incredibly difficult thing to live with.
Yet the people of Sigmund Corp — or at least the Doctor’s we’ve been introduced to — seem to believe quite sincerely in the work they do. The joy, if not peace, they bring to the dying. Even Neil, cynical and unable to be serious by turns, cries out during Act 3 that he signed up for this job to make old people happy, not to take their joy away.
Whether we agree with what they do or not — it was still difficult to watch Doctors who believe in what they do — get pelted with tomatoes and abuse. Almost as difficult still to see their moments of self-doubt. And that’s while not agreeing with the premise in the first place!
2) For how short these two (aptly named) Minisodes were — we were given a LOT to wonder about, from Ghost Eva on the road, to Neil’s mum or dad on the phone, to what on earth he was doing with the memory unit in his office to… whatever it was that happened post-credits. So, yeah… My extended version of the ‘WTF?’ question is: What do you think is happening? Speculate wildly!
IS THIS REAL? IS ANY OF THIS REAL?
Right at the end of To the Moon, after the credits, while in Neil’s perspective there is a red flash of the screen — from what we learned during the scene with Eva returning to the car… or at least; what those of us not playing in a teeny-tiny window on a 32:9 screen learned… we could surmise this was a flash of pain.
But you know what else had that visual effect? While they were in Johnny’s memories and he experienced pain. Or was close to death.
Then over the course of the Minisodes — we see Neil self-experimenting with the memory traversing/writing helmet. And later still in the post-credits of the final Minisode, flashes to Eva in the helmet. Add to this that the marketing intentionally makes the story sequence of the games ambiguous and I wonder if some part of what we’ve been through is real or is simulated, likely changed memories.
But if so… Whose? We have moments of control with both Eva and Neil at times they are separated from one another. We see both of them, at different times, in a helmet and rig. But perhaps that’s key — and it is both of them. We know the system allows for some linkage between multiple participants after all.
So many potential theories.
Here’s the one I’ll run with for now.
Neil is dying. But he wasn’t content to have lived in memory only in the moments before death, he has been experimenting with selectively overwriting memories rather than the wholesale overwrite that Sigmund Corp currently knows how to perform. Or maybe it is the other way around. He was experimenting with selectively overwriting memories and as a result he is dying.
I think, further, that Neil gets stuck in his machine. Eva finds him in this state and joins to work out what is going on. The modifications made result in a shared/blurred-lines memory experience.
I don’t have an idea as to what Neil might’ve wanted to overwrite in his own life. Perhaps the falling out that leads to him being unable or unwilling to talk to his mother or father on the phone? Is it an outcome of a particular case? Possibly even Johnny and River’s?
My theory is that both To the Moon and the sequel, Finding Paradise, are in fact replayed memories while Neil and Eva are in this state. Sort of an inception type thing. I think that Imposter Factory due end of year will bring us back to the ‘real’ present. Or at least I hope so. We really need some clarity on what on earth is going on here!!
Well- that’s it for now!
I’ll almost certainly kick off a round for Finding Paradise. I’m less certain about A Bird Story. A Bird Story is a (mostly) non-interactive short story, with no words, not required for understanding of the greater plot.
Nonetheless… If people are interested, we could include it too. Otherwise I would suggest keeping it as an optional extra that you do (or not) at your discretion.
I’ll leave a bit of a gap in any case before kicking the next round off to provide a little bit of a break. :)