When I heard that To the Moon was a video game version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I instantly knew that I had to play it. Unfortunately, due to my overwhelming roster of Steam games to get through, the game took me about a year to get around to. What I eventually found was a game that would change my life. Granted, Iím only sixteen, so I havenít had that many life-changing experiences, but that definitely doesnít make To the Moon any less significant to me. It tells the story of a man, Johnny, lying on his death bed. His final hours have come, and he has one wish; to go to the moon. He hires a pair of scientists (controlled by the player) to alter his memories and change his life before he dies. What unfolds is a delightfully heart wrenching story about love, regret, and self-worth.
The thing about To the Moon that made it have such an impact on me is that I can relate to a lot of Johnnyís feelings and desires. I suffer from a lot of the stupid mental afflictions that most teenagers do, and Johnnyís teenage years illustrated the issues that Iím dealing with. He wasnít popular, and spent most of his time hanging out with one friend. He longed for companionship, but not in the traditional sense. He wanted to feel better about himself, and thought that he could accomplish it by having a girlfriend. His motives were purely selfish, and even in his best friendís eyes, shameful. But Johnny insisted that that was what he needed. His solution was River. My high school years have been a bit rough, and instead of going to parties and dating girls, I have a small group of friends and spend a lot of my time playing video games (obviously). For a long time, I thought that having a girlfriend would solve all of my problems and raise my self-esteem. If someone loved me, maybe I would love myself.
If youíve played the game (which you should have if youíre reading this), then you know how Johnnyís life turned out when he was never with River. He had the time to focus on himself, working hard and achieving his dream of becoming an astronaut. He became proud and successful on his own, without developing an unhealthy codependency with River. Remember the montage of his altered life, with Laura Shigiharaís ďEverythingís AlrightĒ playing in the background? That hit me hard. To the Moon helped me realize that I donít need some superficial relationship to make me feel good about myself. I should become something that I can be proud of, find out where Iím going in life, and then start thinking about putting my effort into other things, like having a serious relationship.
The point at which I fell in love with To the Moon was, of course, the carnival scene. Even in an interaction between young children, there was a lot of truth. One of the reasons that Johnny felt so ordinary was because he has an ordinary name, an ordinary identity. I too have a very common name; so common that I share it with several people at my high school (which is very small). Every day I hear someone call my name, just to be disappointed when I find them trying to get someone elseís attention. Having such an ordinary name made me feel anonymous, like Iím just one star in a sky with plenty to spare. But what River said about a night sky full of stars is true. People still think that theyíre all beautiful. In the end, all of us are pretty much the same, but weíre still special.
To the Moon is the kind of game that Iíll play over and over in the future, and as I get older, Iím confident that Iíll get different things out of it each time. This game really applied to my life and made me think differently, and I have high hopes for its sequel.