Let’s Go To The Moon (A Play-Along) – Act 3

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Act 3 of To The Moon. It’s the third part of the play-along hosted by Naithin. Now on to the questions!

1. Johnny… Joey… Twins. It seems after the accident Johnny lost his identity to his mother, and became a replacement-Joey. Does it change how you feel about Johnny as compared to your Act 1 impressions?

I spent more time thinking about how this worked than judging Johnny. Johnny gets beta blockers and, from what it seems like, completely forgets he even had a twin. I wonder who’s decision this was. Was it his mom’s? I can’t remember if it said she didn’t get them or if that’s just an assumption I’m making, but if she didn’t get them, does she just start thinking she has one kid and it’s Joey who survived? Did she get her memories erased and thinks she has one kid, Joey?

Johnny picks up Joey’s favorites (pickled olives and Animorphs). I’m thinking that was his mom’s influence. Now, I can’t hardly imagine loosing a child, but I can’t imagine making the choices she does which amounts to erasing the child that’s still alive.

I think I judged Johnny less harshly than some of the other play-along participants, but while this does increase my sympathy for him, I don’t judge him any less. The only thing I really judged him for was not reading the book on River’s condition–and I don’t think that was explained in Act 3. I’m still judging him on that, but he clearly loved River, so I can move beyond that one thing.

2. Eva and Neil have a verbal sparring match on their differing views of contract vs. what they now know (or think they know) about what would make Johnny happier. Outcome of Eva’s actions notwithstanding; do you sympathise with one view over the other here?

Neil’s for sure, but it’s hard for me to answer because I’m against memory alteration as a whole. Even with that aside, we find out that Johnny’s wish to go to the moon was to meet up with River.

This revelation is incredibly emotional. If you don’t see this scene and don’t feel anything, knowing what’s to come, your heart is three sizes too small.

But it’s about River. And in real life, Johnny spent his whole life with River. This request comes from a fragment of a chemically repressed memory. With his real memories, he’s getting what he wanted, but the words of his request are wrong and lead Neil and Eva in a wild goose-chase in the wrong direction.

And yet, I really relate to Eva in the scene where she’s all “I know what to do, just trust me!” and she runs off and does it. As a programmer, I often will think of the solution to something and be unable to articulate it–I’ll need to go and do it, Neils be damned.

Ace Asunder’s post reminded me that Neil said, “We happen to know what he wants better than he does!” I don’t hate Neil for saying this. I used to work for an agency and we very often knew what the clients wanted more than they did. Of course, I’m talking about software and not memories. I think that other people shouldn’t be deciding what memories to put in someone’s head, because other people shouldn’t be changing memories in the first place.

3. Throughout that same exchange, Eva asks Neil to trust her. He clearly didn’t. Did you?

Not in the way you might think. I definitely thought she was doing what she thought was the right thing. Because I could really see myself in that scene, I guessed she wanted to follow the letter of the contract and make Johnny happy.

But, knowing that there’s sequels: I have a feeling Sigmund Corp is up to something beyond just providing people with altered memories. It seems way too benevolent for a company in a video game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Eva knows a thing or two about it, while Neil’s completely in the dark.

4. “He can always find another ‘River’… But he’ll only have one brother.” Again, pretending for the moment you don’t know the outcome of Eva’s actions and what she (suspected) would happen… Do you agree? What about in this context of overwritten memories as opposed to life as it was?

No. It’s not real. The Joey isn’t even real, just constructed from Johnny’s memories. Even knowing the final outcome doesn’t make me think it’s right.

I don’t remember what I though the first playthrough. I wish I did. It would be interesting to see how my thoughts changed since then. I know that this time around, I strongly guessed that Eva’s attempts would be successful and that it meant we’d see River again. I don’t know if this was based on my own locked out memories of the game, or if it’s just my knack for guessing endings.

5. Do you ship Eva and Neil?

Of course! The sexual tension is there, folks.

But…I did tweet this a while back:

And I stand by it!

Cover Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash.

Let’s Go To The Moon (A Play-Along) – Act 2

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Act 2 of To The Moon. It’s part of the play-along hosted by Naithin. Let’s get to the questions!

1. When Eva was sitting, thinking about the reasons nothing at all changed in Johnny’s simulated memories — what conclusions do you think she reached? What conclusion did you reach?

First of all, the scenes where Eva and Neil are going through Johnny’s memories and trying to get Johnny to want to go to the moon is hilarious. Particularly the scene where Neil is giving the school presentation, reciting moon facts.

As an aside, having interesting or entertaining protagonists is essential to making an adventure game work for me. See The Longest Journey’s April vs. Syberia’s Kate.

Fan art of Eva and Neil via Janamation

Eva and Neil go through all Johnny’s memories and do what they can to manually implant as many triggers as possible, but Johnny still doesn’t want to go to the moon. It makes me wonder, why does old man Johnny want to go to the moon, anyway? If I grew old and regretted something, it would probably be something I’ve at least spent some time thinking about. Not just something completely out of the blue.

Maybe that’s what Eva’s thinking. They should call HQ and tell them it’s impossible. (Except maybe they want to keep their jobs.) Or, perhaps, there’s something missing in that blocked memory.

2. The block on the youngest memories and the use of beta blockers… What do you think this will be all about?

I think something traumatic happened at that time and the beta blockers were meant to repress that memory. That memory’s going to be the key to understanding all of this, I think. It seems like old man Johnny might have some bits and pieces and feelings from those memories that have leaked through. Somehow, the leaked memories and feelings have him wanting to go to the moon. Maybe he’s confused about them somehow, like he’s getting some lunar influences but it’s not exactly right.

3. What about Neil taking off for a moment while Eva returned with the… ahem… Contained dead squirrel odour? What could have been so important to him?

Absolutely no idea! Despite playing this game before, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t remember a thing except for not being able to get off that horse in Act 1 and there being a very twisty ending.

But, I have to wonder if Neil smelled that dead squirrel and was reminded of something himself.

Such harsh treatment of squirrels (and bunnies!) in this game. Has PETA complained yet?

4. We still have the third act to come. What do you think it will focus on?

It’s going to focus on the blocked memory and it will somehow tie everything up, and blow all of our minds. I remember being shocked and feeling very emotional at the end of the game when I finished the first time, but I don’t remember why.

Maybe they got to me with the beta blockers!

Apologies my answers are so short for this act. It’s been a busy week!

Cover Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash. I’ve always had a certain attachment to the moon.

Let’s Go To The Moon (A Play-Along) – Act 1

To the Moon is an indie adventure game with pixel graphics, RPG maker sprites, and annoying tinkling music. But the story is so good, I loved it. I loved it when a friend insisted I play it over 5 years ago. Flash-forward to now, where I completely forgot entirely about the plot. I couldn’t even tell you that it centered around two people who’s job it was to implant new memories into a dying man’s brain. I knew I’d need a recap or an entire complete play-through before playing any sequels. So when Naithin announced he was hosting a play-along, I signed up.

There was one thing I remembered about the game:

It was really hard to get off the horse.

Get me off this thing! Via lparchive.org

Thankfully, Naithin took the time to write questions and answers for each Act in the game, so I don’t have to completely come up with my own stuff to write about. Whew.

Warning: Contains spoilers for Act 1 of To the Moon.

Let’s Play!

I’ve got the game launched. I’ve got hummus. I’m ready to go.

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?

Wanting to do this is a terrible idea. Sure, you’re on your death bed, and you think to yourself, “Wow, I really wasted my life. I wanted to be a marine biologist as a kid and instead I became an accountant. I never should’ve done that. What a crap life.” The best thing to do then, is…get new memories?

Your memories make up who you are. If those memories are implanted then you’re not really a real person, you’re just a fake set of memories. I can see good intentions in wanting people to die happy, but what about instead having them go through their memories and find the good ones? Maybe you wish you were a marine biologist, but as an accountant you stopped tax fraud or helped small businesses stay afloat? Maybe if you hadn’t become an accountant, you wouldn’t have met your spouse or had your children.

Plus, when you die, what happens to those memories? If you don’t believe in an afterlife, then, poof, they’re gone. Then what was the point of the whole thing? For a moment of happiness because your brain is lying to you the moment before you die? How much of whatever your benefactors would be inheriting did you spend on that moment?

If you do believe in the afterlife–well, let’s say you believe in Heaven. It’s not in the Bible so I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure you’re not bringing those implanted memories with you. So you’d be stuck with those same old memories, which probably wouldn’t even matter, because you’d be partying with angels.

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

Spoiler: Anya is a lighthouse.

Anya

My gut reaction is that it was selfish. She wanted this lighthouse to be “looked after” more than she wanted to be there for her own husband. She cared more about an inanimate object than she did about him.

But I think Anya is more than an object to River. I see Anya being a surrogate child. River and Johnny don’t have children, and I wonder if they wanted to but weren’t able to and somehow Anya took that place in River’s heart. If River sees Anya as her child, then of course she’d prioritize Anya’s life over her own.

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?

For sure. 100%.

I have a cat, Sashimi. I love my cat. I adore my cat.

Look at my cat. She wants boops.

My cat is going to be 9 next month. She’s not going to live forever. Someday I’m going to have to deal with her death. The thought itself makes me sad. It’s going to be a hard and terrible time in my life.

It doesn’t mean every happy moment I spend with my cat is pointless. No one says “if you’re going to be so sad when your cat dies, maybe you shouldn’t have adopted one.” If it was all about the ending, we’d never have pets!

I can come up with more examples–like a relationship I had in my twenties that was bad at the end. It doesn’t mean I can’t fondly remember the good moments and treasure the things I discovered and friends I made because of that relationship.

The journey matters.

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

Crap. Unless River didn’t want to do anything about it and ignore it and he was following her lead–but I don’t think that’s true or they wouldn’t be getting a diagnosis in the first place.

You can tell Johnny loves River, but I don’t know why he doesn’t read the book. Does he want to pretend it’s not a part of her? Is he afraid it will take away from the part of her personality that attracted him to her in the first place? I don’t get it. It’s not supportive. Shame on you, Johnny. You should’ve read the book.

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

Johnny was initially interested in River because she seemed different and he wanted some of that uniqueness for himself. A rather selfish reason to date someone, right?

For sure. But when we first start dating someone, aren’t the reasons usually superficial and possibly selfish?

And it seems like he really likes her, and he does fall in love with her, so who cares what was going on in his teenage brain when they first met. It still bothers me that he didn’t read the book, but I can forgive him for this.

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 don’t think so, because like I said, I don’t think Johnny’s confession is that big of a deal. And from a story telling perspective, the game is only half-finished at this point so the answer we have now probably isn’t the actual answer.

I think it might have something to do with why Johnny wants to go to the moon. In Asian folklore, depicted in the moon is a rabbit grinding something with a mortar and pestle. What the rabbit is grinding depends on the specific culture. (Maybe here it’s pickled olives?)

Cover Photo by Aswathy N on Unsplash. So many rabbits!

The Parent Trope’s Top 5 Games of the Decade

Before writing this, I had to decide if I wanted to base this list on games I played from 2010-2020, or games that were released between 2010 and 2020. I ended up going with the release date, mainly because I couldn’t remember if I played Dragon Age: Origins in 2009 or 2010. (I think it was 2009.)

5. The Sims 4

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I didn’t like The Sims 4 as much as The Sims 3, but 3 came out in July 2009. And even though I miss many things about 3, I’ve still enjoyed 4 quite a bit after I got over the fact that it just wasn’t going to have the create-a-style tool. The graphics in The Sims 4 are gorgeous, and even with more limited options I’ve had a lot of fun building various things in the game. Such that I’ve clocked a lot of hours in the game. I don’t know how to check that in Origin, and frankly I’m not sure I want to know.

4. Life is Strange

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I like adventure games. Life is Strange is an amazing adventure game. I was completely hooked by this story, and the time travel piece added just the right extra element. I played quite a few adventure games in this decade, but this one has to be my favorite. The plot, the characters, the choices, the incredible length of the thing. It somehow manages to be a classic adventure game and a modern game at the same time.

3. Civilization 6

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Civ 6 was my game of the year last year, and honestly I thought about making it game of the year again for 2019, because it’s that good. The Gathering Storm added many fun new systems to the game that made it exciting all over again. It might even be my favorite Civ game, although I still have a special place in my heart for Civ 3.

2. Don’t Starve

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This is one of my favorite games ever. Top five for sure. If we’re just going by hours played it would probably be number two (after The Sims 3). Let’s not find out, though, because that would be embarrassing. The point is, I love this game. A friend told me about it when it was released in 2013 and then I spent so much time trying not to die.

Don’t Starve made me think I like survival games, but eventually I realized that I don’t. I just like Don’t Starve. I like the artsy graphics that look hand-drawn. I like the little characters and their quirks. I like the weirdness of it all. That’s what I like the best. Running into something and not knowing if it’s going to kill you or if you can chop it down or eat it. Maybe it will make you go insane and start seeing shadow creatures. If it chases you, jump down a wormhole and end up who knows where.

1. Mass Effect 2

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Mass Effect 2 barely scrapes into the list having a release date of January 2010. I played Mass Effect 2 after finishing Dragon Age: Origins and hearing that Mass Effect was “like Dragon Age in space.” It did not disappoint. I don’t know why I started with 2 and not 1, but I loved 2 enough that I went back to play 1.

Mass Effect 1 had overly complicated combat and that terrible mako vehicle you had to drive around on occasion (see why I never got past the 4 hour mark in Mass Effect: Andromeda). But by now I was hooked on this whole universe and I wanted to start Mass Effect 2 with choices I actually made in the first game. Plus, I’d discovered the joy of playing renegade–and I really wanted to be able to recruit Morinth.

This game is, to me, what an RPG should be. Intriguing plot, exceptional characters, smooth combat, and not wasting countless minutes getting from quest point A to quest point B because someone decided all RPGs have to be “open world.” It’s the best. I don’t think we’ll ever get a game quite like it.

Cover image via xbox wallpapers.

Witcher 3 First Impressions: Is it Really an RPG Though?

I realize it’s been months since I last posted, and here I am ready to talk about a game I recently started playing: The Witcher 3. Yeah, I know, it came out in 2015. I’m a bit behind. I bought it on Steam sale for about $7 and decided to give it a whirl. Even though it’s a narrative heavy RPG (something I like) I’d avoided it because I prefer RPGs where I can customize my character or at the very least play as a woman. In The Witcher 3 you’re stuck playing Geralt, an overly-buff, white-haired sword wielder who has a few minor magical abilities.

Playing Geralt definitely feels like I’m in a heterosexual male fantasy: he’s muscular, sarcastic, and has plenty of girlfriends. His voice is deep and grizzled, and I wonder how many packs of cigarettes the voice actor had to smoke before completing his scenes. I rebel by making my Geralt the kindest possible version of himself in his dialog options.

geralt
Geralt. So broad-shouldered. So gravely-voiced.

I play this and wonder if you can really call it an RPG? RPG stands for “Role Playing Game” and while technically you’re playing the role of Geralt, the term RPG is taken from the tabletop gaming world where players create their own characters. Can a game be considered an RPG if you’re forced to play a specific character? Or is Witcher 3 more of an adventure game with combat? Most people wouldn’t call Life is Strange a roleplaying game even though you’re playing the role of Max Caulfield. What makes that an adventure game but Witcher 3 an RPG? Is Witcher 3 an RPG because of it’s fantasy setting? is Life is Strange an adventure game because there’s no combat? I really don’t know–let me know what you think in the comments.

On to better topics: cats in the game, and whether or not you can pet them.

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Early in the game I ended up at a tavern and while questioning in the patrons I found a cat. I couldn’t pet the cat and the cat hissed at me. It might have something to do with my cat eyes. Very disappointing.

Despite not being able to pet the cat and Geralt not being my ideal player character (he does have nice hair and the cat eyes are cool), I am interested in the lore. I’ll try to focus on that as I keep playing.

Cover image via this website. I thought I’d finally found one without a person in it, but I was wrong. Cat photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash.