Gosh, To The Moon was excellent, not the first time I've cried because of a video game either. Dishonored I finished off pretty quickly, enjoyed it a lot but I've definitely enjoyed the time I've spent with XCOM more.
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? The light of being alive. I have just had the honour and privilege to play To The Moon, a Canadian/Japanese-esque adventure RPG. When I first saw To The Moon in screenshots, I was immediately put off. I personally dont have much nostalgia for Japanese RPGs from the 1990s ala Chrono Trigger, so when I saw that To The Moon was emulating the style of those games I braced myself for turn-based combat and all the associated grinding that comes with it. To The Moon subverts these expectations rather cleverly, and it must be admitted the game has zero combat and indeed relatively little in the way of typical gameplay. To The Moon is a story-driven game which is almost entirely reliant on your involvement with the characters. Considering this game has zero voice acting, it is a master class in writing and presentation alone. I would call the story both a love story and a life story, where some questions are left purposefully unanswered or vague until much later on, whilst others are never answered altogether. The plot is kind of a reimagining of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where a dying elderly man (Johnny Wyles) is offered the chance by a pair of doctors from the Sigmund Corporation to fulfil his lifelong wish of going to the Moon. In order to do so, the doctors enter Johnnys mind and revisit memories throughout his life, to implant in his psyche the conscious will to go to the Moon, and thus within his mind, have lived a life where he accomplished this goal. However, the exploration of why Johnny wants to go to the Moon is intricately linked to his relationship with his deceased wife, River, along with other recurring themes such as lighthouses and origami rabbits. All this may sound rather pretentious, but I can assure you it is anything but. At the end of To The Moon, I literally burst into tears. The last time a piece of entertainment made me do that was the introduction to the Disney/Pixar film Up. Its the very first time its happened with a video game.
Anyway, away from the Moon, Ive also been playing a lot of other things, Dishonored primarily among them. Goodness, Dishonored is excellent. Its definitely a game which came out of left-field, and there was literally no buzz about it before E3 this year. Even at E3 after seeing the trailers, I wasnt sure what to expect. Was this going to be a first-person Assassins Creed? In the end, Dishonored is more of a Deus Ex style game merged with the atmosphere of BioShock. The industrial Victoriana city of Dunwall is a believable and interesting location, certainly the most fully-fleshed out place Ive visited in a game since Rapture. Although the plot itself is just so-so and comes to a rather anti-climactic finish, the gameplay is really what holds the experience together. As Corvo Attano, disgraced former bodyguard to the Empress framed for her murder, you can either sneak your way across the city or go in all guns blazing. Both ways are perfectly valid, but actually I found it easier to sneak through silently taking guys out. Id like to try doing an all-out assault playthrough, but Ive now got sneaking around down to a tee and its really fun to freeze time, take out a couple of guards and then have the remaining few wonder what happen to their compatriots. Anyway, outside of video games I must admit I havent been active on GameSpot in recent weeks. Work has been exceedingly busy and currently shows no signs of slowing down, so most evenings I come back, play a bit of Dishonored or watch an episode of Homeland (which is great by the way, watch it), then fall asleep. I hope it will quieten down a bit soon, because most of the time I feel exhausted and I dont think thats particularly healthy. On a final note, go read my review of Black Mesa over at Entertainium, a website run by our very own edubuccaneer and DouglasBuffone. Then you should immediately go play Black Mesa, because its awesome.
Black Mesa is awesome, can't wait for the Xen levels to finish off the great work they have put in.
To the Moon is certainly an interesting game, the story is quiet effective at slowly getting you into the characters' lives. Although I admit I didn't cry there is definitely charm.
Dishonored is a good game although I didn't enjoy it quite as much as everybody else. Sending rats in for the kill never got old at least.