The story of moon is that you are a little boy playing an RPG called Moon. After your Mom tells you to go to bed, you get sucked into the game world. Instead of being the Hero in the game, you now play as a walking set of clothes, tasked by the Queen of the Moon to gather Love.
moon is deconstructive because you are not the Hero of the game. No, you're the person cleaning up after theThe story of moon is that you are a little boy playing an RPG called Moon. After your Mom tells you to go to bed, you get sucked into the game world. Instead of being the Hero in the game, you now play as a walking set of clothes, tasked by the Queen of the Moon to gather Love.
moon is deconstructive because you are not the Hero of the game. No, you're the person cleaning up after the Hero by resurrecting dead animals, preventing the slaughtering of the innocent, improving the lives of the towns folk, etc. The game instead shows the selfishness of heroism and great man fantasy: murder for personal gain, rummaging through people's stuff and taking their items, even cruelty for the sake of getting things over with quicker--such as using a LVL 20 spell on a LVL 5 enemy. Instead of gaining experience, moon asks you to gain Love. You gain Love by finding a slaughtered animal's soul & returning it to their body and helping out people with their issues. Gaining Love increases your Love Level, which increases your energy to walk farther and explore more.
Mechanically, the game is most reminiscent to Chibi-Robo and Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. From Chibi-Robo, you have the gameplay loop of improving people's lives to gain more Love/happiness points which allow you to explore more areas to help more people. From Majora's Mask, the games takes NPCs having unique schedules, melancholic and off-beat humor, and running out of time gets you a Game Over. In moon, though, you get a Game Over by running out of energy. So you want to gain as much Love as possible so you can explore and help people to your hearts content. In order to level up, restore your energy, and save, you need to sleep in either Gramby's bed or your own. Eating food also gives you a bit more energy.
The game's aesthetics combine 32-bit sprite work, claymation, and pre-rendered graphics to create an almost Henry Selick looking world that is both cute and off-putting. The music and ambience are excellent as well. Though, the music is handled in an interesting way. Most areas are silent, so can make your own playlist of songs to play in the background. These songs range from electronic to hip-hop to jazz to rock and are all quite good. This adds to deconstructive nature of the game by giving you more agency than usually, reminding you that you are still in a game.
The hardest part of the game is the beginning. You have such little energy, are still getting used to the game, and are only given the direction of finding Love. It can feel trial and error, where you have to repeat the first day a few times just to understand your own limits and the easiest ways to find Love so you can start truly exploring and getting lost in the world of moon. I won't lie and say it wasn't frustrating at first. But once you start racking up Love Levels, the game becomes far more forgiving. If you want a tip: either expect to do the first day a couple times or be conservative by spending the first few days gaining Love and immediately heading back to bed. But once the world opens it, it's easy to get lost in--in a good way. The best video games are the ones that immerse you, and playing moon makes me feel like I'm inhabiting its world.
Of course, it's also an old game, so modern qualities of life don't exist in-game. There is no auto-save in a traditional sense, the game instead auto-saves once you sleep. Game Overs take you back to the last time you slept, which can be unforgiving. The games is also inspired by 90s adventure games it seems, as you have to figure out a lot of things on your own (though, the publishers provided a pdf of the manual which is extremely helpful). You also move slow which helps makes those first couple days frustrating and came to a head when I had to follow a dog to find his hiding spot only for him to out walk me every night I tried. The pace itself can feel slower than comparable games. Majora's Mask only had three days to worry about; moon has a full week. The path forward can be obtuse. The game is non-linear, so there is a lot of stuff that can be missed the first time around in terms of story, context, and content. But I don't find that last part a flaw, really. If we can laud Dark Souls for a similar feature, then then I find it part of the reason going back to moon can be so enduring: to really dive headfirst into a game's world.
Despite the game's own anti-escapist musings, I found moon to be quite absorbing. Even after getting far on some in-game days only to lose progress due to a lack of time management on my part leading to a Game Over and then quitting in fruition, I found myself loading the game back up less than an hour later because I was so invested. It has flaws. It shows it age, it can be unforgiving, the pacing is slow, and it really throws you in the deep end as soon as you gain control. However, once the learning curve is conquered, it was a deeply rewarding experience in richly written world.… Expand