Video Game Review: Fragile Dreams
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a Nintendo Wii game that I’ve been keeping tabs on for quite some time. I never thought a release in North America would be a possibility, but thanks to XSEED, Fragile Dreams landed on store shelves a few weeks ago (and even with a special pre-order CD soundtrack bonus at GameStop.) So was the wait worth it? Read on to find out!
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If you’ve seen a few films (particularly Spirited Away, The Eye, Metropolis and Grave of the Fireflies), than Fragile Dreams in some ways is a spiritual follow-up in a video game incarnation. If you enjoyed those films, chances are you will like this game. The game begins with introducing you to the main character, Seto. He’s the only character you’ll be controlling, so hopefully you’ll grow to like him.
Seto lived with an old man in a rural area who recently passed on, and Seto is left alone all by himself in a post-apocalyptic world to figure out what to make of life. Controls for the game is simple and you will gradually learn new tips and tricks as the game progresses. Seto’s first encounter with the spiritual world is right inside his home (which is a beautiful atmospheric lighthouse) as he comes across a disturbing spirit that threatens him.
Soon afterwords, he encounters a mysterious girl in which he is immediately drawn to. She disappears, and Seto decides that his goal is to find the girl and make sure she is okay.
You’ll seldom be fully alone in the game, as you’ll have companions assisting you along the way. These companions offer tips if you hold the Wiimote to your ear and they will talk to you. This feature greatly enhances the connection you will feel in the game, and because they are beside you, traversing the dark hallways and abandoned buildings won’t feel too scary as you’ll feel comforted knowing they are right beside you.
Fragile Dreams at its core is an adventure game, albeit very linear. There are lite RPG gameplay mechanics, such as leveling up (highly recommended and not very difficult to do) and combat is simple (simply tap a button to use the weapon.) It’s nice that there are a lot of different weapons to choose from but I mainly stuck with two of the same weapon types throughout the game.
You’ll come across little fire camp sites throughout the game. These are your lifesavers. Here you’ll be able to save your game, access and store items, and occasionally buy and sell with the merchant (it seems to be random when the merchant appears, which unfortunately can be devastating when you need certain items.) These fire places are dispersed rather favorably so you won’t have to worry about the game being too challenging. In fact, the game is not too difficult at all. If you carry two weapons and a few healing items, you’ll be good to go. Many items can break in the game, so it’s important to keep another one handy if necessary. Silent Hill Origins also used this feature, but at least in Fragile Dreams when a weapon breaks, you can still use it but it won’t dish out too much damage.
I was always wondering what kind of locations I’d see next, and some of the environments were amazing and had such a great artistic style to it. One of my favorites is the abandoned hotel, as its one of the first times you’ll see the sunlight pour through the cracked windows and just for the atmospheric scenery its worth the price of admission. With a touching soundtrack, memorable characters, and an emotional story, it’s really difficult to pass up on this game.
There’s a few minor issues in the game that bogged down the enjoyable experience. The backtracking at times was annoying, but luckily it’s not too often. It seems it was just a game mechanic used to extend the gameplay time, as I was able to finish the game in 15 hours and I took my time too. There was two specific scenarios that took me awhile to figure out, and I felt that the game could have been better if it had not dragged out certain parts. Luckily, I found a FAQ that helped me understand what I was doing wrong.
After the credits roll, you are rewarded with an Extras menu that features Concept Art and all of the cut-scenes of the game, along with a few trailers to look at. Also, if you visit the official website, you’ll notice a “Special” feature.
To access it, you’ll need a password that is shown in the credits. But just in case you can’t figure out, the password is Tokyo Tower. By entering in the password. you’ll get access to special wallpapers and an “Outtakes Trailer.”
So is the game worth purchasing? For $40, there’s not much replay value (although you can play the game completely in Japanese voice-overs if you like and finding all of the memories [these are little stories that you read at the campfire] can prove challenging as some are hidden quite well in the game.) The game’s unique features and existential story should make this become a collector’s item. If you’re not so sure about the overall premise, definitely give it a rent. However, I personally hope the game sells well so we can see more games like this in North America.
Review Score: 9.0/10
Experience the beginning. First 10 minutes of the game…