To the Moon ended in such a way that it made the idea of future instalments for the story intriguing. Where would the two mind altering, memory bending scientists go from here? Would further stories take the player on a journey to assess another dying persons mind, or focus solely on the scientists and what they do with their jobs? Well, until another full game can be released, fans and critics of To the Moon will have to settle for two free minisodes titled the Sigmund Minisodes.
Both minisodes are about twenty minutes in length and take place over the day before a Christmas break. Picking up where To the Moon left off, we find the two scientists, Dr Rosalene and Dr Watts, discussing the importance of the task they’d justcompleted. What is interesting about the first minisode is that it feels like the developer was responding to people like myself who took issue with some of the more gamey elements of the first game.
At one point in the minisode, Dr Watts shows Dr Rosalene a game that he has developed based around the events of To the Moon. Dr Rosalene is shocked and appalled that someone would take such a sensitive issue and turn it into a game. It’s this point which I found most interesting about the minisode and was a step forward from the quality of writing in the main game – even if there is still the occasional line of dialogue that no real person would ever say. It’s because of this occasional hokey dialogue that I’m still unsure whether there is any added confidence with this instalment, but at least there is an awareness of the subject matter that didn’t seem present in the To the Moon.
The actual game that Dr Watts creates is a simple experience that has you navigate through a maze and collecting the memory tokens whilst battling the unnecessary Zombievas from To the Moon. It’s an interesting contrast to the issue that bookends the minisodes – where protestors against the practice of altering minds have descended upon the Sigmund offices. What these minisodes do best is tease at a greater story which I can only assume will be covered in greater detail in the next full game.
The other gamey elements of To the Moon, where you had to click around the screen trying to find appropriate memories, aren’t present here. Instead, these are mostly a walk around and talk to people episodes, giving the ‘game’ a visual novel feel. The lack of true game elements works in favour of the short story feel, as any game elements would have made the story feel bloated or stretched out.
At first I was concerned that these minisodes would focus solely on the scientists. I found they were the weakest part of the main game, but once I progressed through the two short games I found them to be quite tolerable and even starting to form into fully realised characters. I’m glad I didn’t let my frustrations and disappointment with To the Moon stop me from playing through these two minisodes as they have now gotten me intrigued at the prospect of playing through the next full game.
What sounds tedious and boring on paper actually translates to an interesting piece of character development. Both minisodes mostly focus on office politics, something that is not the most thrilling subject matter for a game. The second minisode is solely based around trying to make sure that Dr Watts isn’t alone at Christmas which, as a subject all by itself, it could have been quite boring. Fortunately, with some small hints at a greater story, it becomes a bit more than just a sad Christmas tale. Because the minisodes are so short, it’s hard to explain what these hints are without spoiling them, but needless to say, fans of To the Moon will be interested in seeing how these characters have progressed in a short period of time and where that will leave them in future instalments.
Overall this is a good stop gap between main games and is in fact a nice bite sized game. I’m glad that a minisode like this exists and I would have no problem throwing down a dollar or two to have purchased these instalments – even if they are only twenty minutes in length. It’s a move I would like to see other games take in the future – a bit like Telltale’s The Walking Dead: 400 Days . Telling smaller stories that would otherwise have been ruined by unnecessary padding.