To the Moon is a game that has been lauded up and down here on RPGFan, and with good reason. The game excelled at creating an emotional atmosphere and story without becoming hokey. For me, it was able to do that for two reasons: the writing and the music. Of course, the latter is my focus in this review. In my case, it’s impossible for me to separate this music from certain events in the game simply because of how irrevocably they have affixed themselves in my memory. In the case of someone who may not have played the game, however, there’s still a ton of value to this music.
Composed by Kan R. Gao with vocal assistance from Laura Shigihara, To the Moon’s soundtrack is made up of mostly soft, atmospheric pieces that set the tone for the various scenes they accompany. There is quite a bit of piano work here, and without exception, all of it is engaging and lovingly performed. The tracks with Shigihara’s vocals don’t disappoint, either – “Everything’s Alright” in particular showcases both the skillful piano performance and the vocals in a gorgeous way. Her voice is soft and particularly touching, which suits the emotional tone of the game well.
One of the game’s most recurring themes is “For River,” a piano piece which appears both in the narrative and throughout the game itself in various forms. In the context of the story, this track is written by a man for his wife, but the passion and feeling behind it is as real as anything; one gets the sense that the composer felt as strongly about his characters as they did for one another. My personal favorite track on the album is “Launch,” for its smoothly alternating highs and lows and soft, twanging string performance backing the main melody.
One track people familiar with the game’s development may recognize is “Trailer Theme – Part 1.” This track is evocative of the tone of the album and game as a whole, and serves as a great coda to the tracklist. A windy sound that brings to mind a soft whistle bookends the track, and in the introduction it gradually fuses with a methodical procession of chords on the piano to great effect.
The takeaway here is that even if you haven’t played To the Moon, this is great music for relaxing and listening. I don’t envy the composers, as this is a supposed series of four games, and they have a high margin to top in upcoming installments.