There are definitely a few puzzles in this game that are way, way too obscure, but I ultimately couldn’t be too angry about it given that I would have been able to finish the game without doing everything, and just wanted to get 100%. My biggest stumbling block was realizing I needed to eat a mushroom in order to explore. That could have been signposted much better. Having a hint vendor is also a help, though sometimes they’re not as clear as they could be.
Regarding the questionable stuff:
The Eco crew are definitely pretty rough. The saving grace for that stuff, I guess, is that pretty much every single character in moon is portrayed with a deep irreverence, so it makes me a bit more willing to give that characterization a pass. You can bring a positive reading to them. It’s still pretty bad, though. There are also a few other character designs that verge on racist caricature that I was pretty unhappy with.
As for the Tamaya bit, I was super uncomfortable with that moment, and I think might be the biggest narrative misstep in the game, along with the Eco team. A similar thing happens in Chulip, albeit significantly worse, IMO. For me, the thing I came away with was that both those moments, both in moon and in Chulip, treat domestic violence as a part of couple’s quarrel, and not as a signifier of something much more sinister. It recognizes it as something bad, but not as a sign of sustained domestic abuse. If we removed those attacks from their respective narratives, the storylines make more sense, honestly. Abuse is simply not in these games’ vocabulary, and it wields those moments profoundly irresponsibly.
It’s for those reasons I can’t exactly recommend moon without caveat, along with it’s unique adventure game design.
And yeah, the soundtrack rules. It might be my favorite game soundtrack. Like, ever. I love the radical eccentricity displayed here, featuring everything from trip hop to swanky jazz fusion to Amazonian folk songs. (Seriously, not enough games have jazz.)
Something I’m reminded of when highlighting its missteps that fascinates me about moon is that “LOVE” in this game is not always a good thing. One I always think about it how you take a trip to this small island where a single, solitary man lives where he’s trained his whole life practicing playing an instrument with monkeys, and you show up and, to his dismay, immediately master the instrument. It’s extremely absurd and funny, but you get Love from it anyway. I think there’s something interesting in how, as the HERO of the game rampages through the world, getting XP and items by any means necessary, you as the player go through helping people… ostensibly. But at the same time, you’re also rummaging through the world, doing everything you can to level up. It’s a fascinating dynamic.