In 2011, Freedbird Games released To the Moon, a dramatic narrative adventure about life, death, memories, and regret. It was a hit, spawning spinoffs and sequels including A Bird Story, Finding Paradise, and Impostor Factory, and later this year the main story of the series will conclude with a new game called To the Moon: Beach Episode.
“The ‘beach episode’ is generally a trope where the story takes a break from the main plot where the cast heads off to a vacation (on the beach or otherwise),” Freebird Games founder Kan Gao told me. “The biggest expectation with these kinds of episodes tend to be light-heartedness break, and a dubious amount of fan service with revealing swimwear, etc.
“With the To the Moon beach episode, of course, we’re hoping for it to be more than just the trope … I’d been cheeky with implying that with the name ‘Just a To the Moon series Beach Episode,’ and so far the stuff shown had mostly been fun and games, but I think the official trailer that just launched gives folks a more of a genuine vibe of the game, which is: more pain. Just kidding! And hey, there is a reunion of all the major characters through the decade (despite many of them already being dead from previous games), so that’s nice… and weird.”
To the Moon: Beach Episode will in fact include all of the main characters from To the Moon, Finding Paradise, and Impostor Factory, including those who are dead (which, as the Steam page notes, is most of them). It will be a brief affair, running just an hour or two in length, and promises to bring closure to the story that’s been slowly unwinding over the past decade—although Gao noted that the idea of an “ending” is a little tricky in To the Moon’s world.
“To the Moon’s always had a weird sense of time—even in the original game itself, the bulk of the story was told in reverse order,” he explained. “Finding Paradise had a time-hop back and forth, and Impostor Factory was in some ways both a prequel and a sequel at the same time. So naturally the series itself is also a bit odd in the chronological department.
“So I think by ‘ending,’ it is more of a wrap-up of everything we’ve gotten to play through in the series this decade. Perhaps not everything is spoon-fed, but there is a feeling of finale. I hope when people see the actual ending scene of the beach episode happens in-game (‘actual’ ending, since there’s more than one), there would be a sense of closure. Maybe not having everything wrapped in a bow, but a sense of bittersweet mutual understanding between the player and its story that spanned the decade.”
Gao allowed for the possibility of To the Moon returning someday, saying the series still has “vast” potential for more storytelling and exploration. “But after a decade of working on it, I think it’s time to give it a rest.”
Freebird Games has also launched a Kickstarter for a tabletop game called To the Moon: Bestest Memories, and it will tie into Beach Episode is an unusual way: Backers will be able to bury notes on the beach that other players can dig up and read. “It’s a nice way [for fans] to be a part of the series, literally, and in a meaningful way,” Gao said. “More so than just leaving a name in the ‘supporter’ credits.”
(The Kickstarter, for the record, is already funded: It blew past its CA$50,000 (Freebird Games is a Canadian studio) in 45 minutes and is now approaching triple that figure. The campaign runs until September 14.)
As for what’s next, Gao said Freebird has a few projects on the go including two RPGs, one a “quirky fun project” that will probably be out in 2024, and the other much more substantial. “[It] is pretty much my dream project—the one that I got into making games wanting to make, but didn’t have the experience or resources to do so at the time. It is still very much narrative-driven, but having more gameplay than the To the Moon series as well.”
To the Moon: Beach Episode doesn’t have a solid release date yet, but Gao expects it will be out “around the end of the year.” It’s available for wishlisting now on Steam, and will also be on GOG and the Humble Store.