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Game Review: Fragile Dreams

I’ll admit, I didn’t finish Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.  I made it about halfway through before I became bored with it.  However, I know how it ends, & my inability to finish the game doesn’t invalidate my opinion of it.  After all, being “bored” is an opinion.  This is a game that I’d never heard of until I was searching the Gamefly website.  It sounded interesting at first.  So what happened to make me quit?

The white-haired girl is sort of your “goal” in this game

Fragile Dreams takes place some time in the apocalyptic future (because aren’t they always apocalyptic?).  Most of humanity is dead, though for unknown reasons at the beginning.  Now the world is inhabited by echos, ghost-like entities, souls without a body anymore.  You play as a young boy named Seto.  After his “grandfather” dies, Seto sets out to find more humans.  Along the way he encounters not only a few humans, but ghosts… as well as plans to wipe out humanity for a second time.

When you’re not surrounded by darkness, there are some stunning visuals in this game.

Seto wanders around the dilapidated world with just a flashlight at first.  Flashlights will be your constant companions, illuminated the darkness around you & allowing you to see ghosts.  You’ll find & purchase healing items & weapons, which you will be in constant need of.  Weapons break after a while, with some weapons lasting longer than others.  You’re given campfires that function as save points, your shop & replenish your health.  Also, you’ll collect various items that hold memories in them, which you can listen to back at the campfire.  You can also go into first-person to examine items, which is also how you pick special items up.  Most items that can be interacted with will have fireflies around them, serving as the “sparkly” for this game.  Combat is fairly straightforward.  You’ll hear the ghosts before you see them.  Once they appear, you can use melee or ranged weapons to attack.  The more ghosts you fight, the higher your level.

Narrative: The story is what made me quit the game.  It’s just too slow.  The story starts out simple enough; You’re looking for other humans in this empty world.  But the people you meet are so few & far between.  You’ll only meet seven “people” throughout the entire game (I say “people” because they’re not all living human beings).  And while I applaud the game for creating a sense of loneliness which makes you cherish finally finding someone, that means you’ll be spending most of your time wandering around trying to find the next level all alone.  The developers tried to use the memories to fill in the gaps, but it doesn’t seem that effective.  It adds to the depressing feel of the game, but you don’t really connect with the people in the memories.  I think it would’ve been better if you actually encountered the ghosts connected to the memories.  Halfway through the game you finally start learning about the calamity that nearly wiped mankind out, & the final boss is the person behind it, but it would’ve made more sense if you slowly learned about what happened in bits & pieces throughout the whole game.  Instead, you just get everything all at once.  So overall, I like the idea behind the story, but it’s just not told very well.  Score: 2

One of your ghost companions, Sai. At first I thought she was just wearing an open jacket with nothing underneath.

Mechanics: To be honest, I don’t think I’m a fair judge of Wii controls.  To be completely honest, I suck at the Wii.  I’m just not used to the motion controls.  Give me a controller any day.  That being said, most of the gameplay works reasonably well.  You turn Seto with the main remote, which also controls your flashlight, & it’s pretty intuitive.  Your main inventory space is limited, but you can store infinite items in your briefcase when you reach a campfire.  I do have issue with the weapons breaking.  It’s not so much the breaking I have an issue with (after all, they’re normal items like sticks, broom & pipes).  However, there’s no way to know when they’ll break.  More than once you’ll be in the middle of fighting ghostly jellyfish & your weapon will break.  Weapons need to have some kind of health bar.  While we’re on that note, the combat is the worst part of this game.  It feels very clunky.  Once you start a combo you can’t change the direction of your attack, & in melee it’s hard to tell if you’re close enough to hit the ghost.  And while I get that Seto’s just a normal kid, when you spend so much time fighting, the system should’ve been better.  This game also has one of my cardinal videogame sins: respawning enemies.  If you leave an area & come back, or go back to the save spot, all the enemies respawn.  This may help you level up, but that doesn’t stop it from being annoying when you keep having to backtrack.  Score: 3

Feel my wrath, jellyfish!

Aesthetics: The game presents its lonely world very well.  Everything looks suitably abandoned & rundown.  Most of the time you’re wandering around at night — or in dark places.  All of the characters have an anime style, & the ghosts are interesting & varied.  They range from ghostly birds to disembodied legs.  I also liked the sound design.  Normally the only sound you’ll hear is your own footsteps… until you meet a ghost.  Then you’re hear a noise (which varies depending on what type of ghost it is) & the music picks up during the fight.  And although the game isn’t intended to be scary, there were a few creepy moments.  Like the first time hands popped out of the wall, or running down the tunnel with writing like, “We’re going to die” on it.  (Just a note: I highly recommend using the Japanese language, the voiceactors are so much better than the English ones).  Score: 4

Replay Value: Low.  There isn’t much reason to play more than once.  And I think some people would be in the same boat with me as having a hard time finishing even once.  Score: 2

Breakdown

untitled

Overall Score: 3

Final Words: Fragile Dreams is a game that was good in theory but lacked in its execution.  It’s excellent atmosphere is undone by the scattered story & clunky combat.  The average gamer probably won’t enjoy this game.

– GamerDame

Title: Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
Console: Wii
Rating: T
Developers: Namco Bandai & Tri-Crescendo
Publisher: XSeed Games
Release Date: March 16, 2010

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Filed under 3, Adventure, Reviews, Wii

First Impressions: Fragile Dreams

The great thing about Gamefly is that it lets you try out games that you ordinarily wouldn’t buy.  I honestly would never have thought to try Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon had I not happened to randomly seen it while searching for games to add to my Game Q.  Probably the main reason I decided to rent it is because I’d never heard of it before.  And while I wouldn’t buy a game that I know nothing about, I don’t mind renting it.  If it sucks, I can always just send it back.

Two things are noticeable about the game when you see the cover.  1) The title indicates that it is undoubtedly Japanese.  Anyone else notice the Japanese love long subtitles?  I wonder if it’s a translation thing… 2) It was published in the US by XSeed, which if you remember from my very first review is the same publisher of The Grudge.  Not exactly the best sign, but you can’t blame publishers for the quality of the game.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I got the game.  What I gathered from reading the short synopsis on the packet is that you play as a young boy named Seto who sets off to find other survivors in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo (not on the moon, as the title would have you think).  Along the way he meets a mysterious girl, & tries to uncover what happened to humanity.  The description promised dark & destitute lands.  Oh, & you have to fight ghosts along the way.  Actually, they’re called “thought entities,” & seem to resemble more properly poltergeists than actual ghosts (for those who don’t know the difference, according to parapsychologists “poltergeists” aren’t actual spirits but the physical manifestation of emotions or energy).

The game sort of reminds me of Fatal Frame.  You wander around with a flashlight in the dark, traveling through dilapidated environments.  Plus you encounter ghosts that you have to fight.  But that’s where the similarities end.  You physically fight the ghosts with whatever weapon you have handy (I started with a dinky stick but quickly upgraded to a bamboo sword).  And you’re not entirely alone.  After the intro you pick up a machine called the Personal Frame (PF for short).  Despite being a machine, she seems to resemble an AI, & talks to you like a normal person.  It helps ease some of the loneliness of the game.

I only played for an hour, but the game still has my interest.  The combat system is a bit awkward (of course that might just be my ineptitude with the Wiimote) but the game definitely has the loneliness factor down.  I haven’t seen any daylight yet, & buildings look suitably rundown.  Although there are ghosts, the game isn’t so much a horror game.  You hear the ghosts before you see them, & so far none have looked particularly scary… with one exception.  The hands popping out of the bathroom mirror a la Grudge did scare the crap out of me.

Hopefully I can improve my fighting & make it through to the end of Fragile Dream’s mystery.

– GamerDame

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Filed under First Impressions