Finding Paradise, Rakuen, and the Work of Laura Shigihara


#1

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?


#2

I haven’t played the new game yet so I’ll be back to this thread as soon as I do. I’m a day-one buyer of all of Kan Gao’s games since To The Moon.

I wanted to correct a little bit if I may–Laura Shigihara only made the main theme for To The Moon, but Kan Gao was the composer for the rest of the score. He is also the sole composer credited for Finding Paradise, but I’m sure it makes use of her theme song again. I just really like his stuff in those games and A Bird Story and had to make sure he got his dues.


#3

I also haven’t played Finding Paradise yet and will return to discuss more once I do.

For the time being, I will say that I love Rakuen and that despite really liking TTM when I played it near its release years ago (same for Bird Story), I am way more fond of Rakuen than I ever was of TTM and am really sad that more people haven’t played it.


#4

Good catch. Ken Gao absolutely deserves that credit. I adjusted for accuracy.


#5

I am so glad I found another Rakuen lover. That game is so upsettingly underplayed. I was glad to see it make the RPS Advent Calendar though!


#6

I enjoyed To The Moon, but it took me a bit to get into it. The music and music direction was really good though. Been eying up Rakuen. I’ll have to bump that up my wishlist.


#7

I finished Rakuen a couple of days ago. Bought it solely because of that RPS review when I was skimming through their reviews of small games I might have missed.

I’ve teared up playing The Walking Dead, Life is Strange, The Last of Us, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Valiant Hearts.

I was literally sobbing at the final stretch of Rakuen.

It does take a while to really get going. Still just took me 6 and a half hours to finish. It’s not the biggest time investment, so if any of y’all want to sneak in a short, story-focused game before the year ends, I highly recommend it.

It’s also not just heartbreaking and sad! Lots of funny moments, the art is super cute, and the music is great.

also i should really get around to playing to the moon but maybe not anytime soon because my heart can only take so much


#8

We talked about this on Era already, but it was totally that review comparing it to Rocket Slime that made me play it sooner rather than later.

And that comparison totally holds- it’s a very enjoyable and heartwarming game, and though it can be very sad as well during some moments, it’s in a way that’s particularly meaningful due to everything else around that.