I am going back and playing one of my favourite games this weekend, RPS readers, one of those games I return to once every year or so to remind myself why I play games. I’m going to smile, I’m probably going to cry, I’m going to throw myself back into To The Moon.
To The Moon is one of those games you can just tell was made in RPG Maker. Much of it’s bones are those of your standard RPG Maker creation, from the menus and dialogue boxes to the very core of how the game feels to play. But there’s no battles to be fought, just a world to gently explore, interact with and watch unfold. It’s a game I play for lethargy. It’s there to help me relax, to cleanse the palate and shake off some of that cynicism we can find trailing behind us.
So, why do I care so much about this game? I care about it because it’s a rare gem, one that initially appears to be about the same kind of hero we see in most games, but soon reveals itself to be a game designed much more specifically for me.
Okay, let’s cut the crap and just dive into this. I love To The Moon because it starts off seemingly as a story about an old man moping about, wishing he had achieved more with his life and trying to be more ambitious with how he uses his time. In walk two scientists who go back into his mind and try to rewrite his memories so he can live out all his personal goals he never got to live out. Not my cup of tea by a long shot.
The thing is, as you go back through his life it quickly becomes obvious it’s not this man’s story at all, but the story of his wife, her battle with Asperger’s syndrome, their battles to understand each other as a couple and her interactions with another woman whose Asperger’s syndrome presents very differently. Not only is it a really touching tale, but it manages to explore the plurality of ways Asperger’s can manifest without painting the condition with one single sweeping brush stroke.
As a female sufferer of Asperger’s syndrome myself I often find myself struggling, but unable to get help. The condition is a weird double edged sword, one where the more you learn to cope with it, the less you find yourself allowed to struggle when it flares up. It’s pretty common to hear things like “You’re just putting this on for attention, you don’t normally act this way”, which To The Moon understands and explains better than I ever could.
Simply put, I will be replaying To The Moon this weekend because it’s one of the few games that gets representation of autistic spectrum disorders right, something that draws me back to it time and time again. It’s only about four hours long, but those hours do a lot to remind me it’s okay to still have tough days.
So, what are all of you lovely readers playing this weekend?