Role playing games either sit on the shelf because they are horrible or they get constant rotation by gamers because they rock.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is of the latter.
This cinematic feature begins with the main character, Seto, burying his grandfather in his front garden. He then goes on to explore a post-apocalyptic world in a dramatic, heavy fashion that clearly indicates this this game isn't about flowers and bunnies; and more about darkness in a fragile world.
As Seto explores the world for survivors, you will experience enclosed spaces that are oppressive. There will be jaunts down long, tight corridors and storage rooms that are hiding enemies and ghostly dangers.
The Wii remote acts as a flashlight to not only to illuminate areas but also to slow down enemies and reveal hidden messages later on in the game. The game play moves away from the typical mentality that any character using a stick as a weapon must use waggle control, and is proof positive that this is the first example of many unique aspects to game control.
The voice over is very helpful, alerting you to impending enemy attacks as well as a lot of hot-and-cold segments that break up the combat. Lift the Remote to your ear and your companion Personal Frame gives words of advice through the speaker, bridging the gap between screen and your senses. There’s plenty of speech from the controller and it’s always loud, clear and adds plenty to the game whenever used, drawing you into the world with ease.
One of the highlights from the outset are the examinations of mystery items where the player can discover memories, ranging from record phone conversions to photographs from a life that no longer exists. Each memory is sensitive, well-written and moving, which makes those takeaways from battle very memorable.
The game play is enjoyable and just different enough to keep you engaged. Exploring the world, Seto will come across the departed souls of its residents, manifested as anything from flying jellyfish to flame-mouthed mastiffs, and defeating them yields experience points as well as useful items and the memory-holding mystery items.
The biggest problem I found was that the combat modes were pretty simple, despite there being different kinds of weapons, from iron pipes to slingshots — each sort of had a lack of maneuverability in battle, which hindered game play. A step or strafe move would have helped, though it’s worth pointing out that Seto is no swordsman, just a kid boy exploring his world.
Each style of weapon handles differently, from the wide swinging arc of the butterfly net to the blunt power of the steel pipe, but they have something in common: they break.
If you whack enough of evil spirits with a bamboo stick, it’ll snap, which in essence, drops your attacking power and prevents you from performing combos.
If you need to defeat a certain set of enemies to proceed and your weapon breaks, you’re in big trouble. However, after playing for a while, you can build a sense of when to avoid combat. Still, with no tangible warning of when your weapon’s about to give in, it’s still irritating to get caught without one. After a few breakages, you learn to prepare by carrying replacement weapons at all times, something made easier by the upgrades you find allowing you to carry more items.
From a script perspective, the game is solid. The voice acting is genuine and really adds a dramatic feel to the experience. From a graphics perspective, the game delivers. The visuals are complimented with perfectly matched music that really pulls the gamer into the scene. What could easily have been a brutal and boring post-apocalyptic mess turns out to be one of the Wii's most compelling worlds yet, in my experience.
Overall, when Fragile Dreams is good, it’s brilliant. It features great cutscenes, a beautiful decaying world to explore and enough mystery to keep you entertained and wanting to continue playing. The combat is the only downside, though you soon learn to avoid it where possible. Graphically and from an audio perspective, the game excels in offering a world unlike any other, and for fans of intelligent, emotive gaming this will be a big hit.
Fragile Dreams is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes.
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