So I just finished Finding Paradise, the latest game in the To The Moon Series. Between To The Moon, Rakuen, and Finding Paradise, I don’t think there is a single artist who I have cried more often to than the work of Laura Shigihara, who wrote major songs for TtM and FP and created Rakuen [Edited for accuracy]. All three are beautiful games in their own right, that focus on themes of life, death, loss, and memories, but ultimately, I think Rakuen is my favorite of the three.
Much of that comes from the connecting plot for the TtM series being less interesting than the patient stories. You spend a large chuck of your time with the doctors doing the memory procedure who feel far less interesting than the patients and families. (Not to mention that Dr. Watts’ constant references to geek culture get really old, really fast). Rakuen hits on similar themes to the other two games, but does so in a way where every mechanic and interaction is focused on telling the story of the boy and his mom.The puzzles in the TtM series feel tangential to the emotional core of the games (working towards progression through the fictional memory exploration system using sliding block/ match three puzzles), where for Rakuen they feel essential. While I love both Finding Paradise and To The Moon, Rakuen feels like an proper evolution of those games, taking the best parts and throwing aside the parts that work less well.
Has anyone else recently finished Finding Paradise or played Rakuen? Are there games that come to mind for you that perfected the goals of different game by focusing in on what worked best and setting aside the rest?