Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

Ah, Xseed Games, what would us Wii gamers do without you publishing these lesser known games? Fragile Dreams was released here last year in Spring and I had been wanting to play it, but didn't order the game until a couple weeks ago. The game is an action rpg, though it seems to play more like an action adventure. You are able to equip items and weapons and level up throughout the game. None of it is very crucial to the main point of the game though, since the story and atmosphere are the things driving it.

You're given a short back story by the main character before you head off on your journey, and you're not quite sure what happened to the world, you just know that there aren't many humans left. The game revolves around finding this silver-haired girl that you meet early in the game. (Pictured in the reflection on the cover art to the left.) You do meet other characters in the game, but some of them aren't really living.

For example, the first companion you meet is an artificial intelligence contained within a box of some kind. She is basically the tutorial level of the game, since she helps you along with all of the game mechanics you come across. Though the world seems to be rid of humans, you are never truly alone throughout the game, most of the time, you'll have a companion with you. The companions usually just help with hints but never help in combat. The world is full of wandering spirits, so you need to fight them off when you encounter them. The combat is a bit clunky, perhaps because there is no lock-on targeting, but I have gotten used to that mode of play thanks to Monster Hunter. The difficulty of the enemies never really exceeds a certain point, but some of them can get annoying. There is a bit of exploration, but most of the time, you are on a linear path and there are a few times where you need to backtrack, but thankfully it doesn't really slow down the pace of the game too much. You also find these items scattered across the game that give you the memories of people that once lived. Some of them are entertaining, and some of them give a bit of insight into the game's deeper story.
The game's art style really shows in the outdoor areas.
One of the main draws of this game is the atmosphere. It's unlike a lot of the post-apocalyptic settings in that it doesn't go for the nuclear fallout. I can't tell you the full details since that's part of the mystery of the game and I wouldn't want to spoil it. I think the main draw of the game is that sense of being alone and trying to find another person in the world. Though I did mention that you do come across companions in the game, they never seem to last that long, and there is quite a bit of heartbreak throughout the game's story, so prepare to shed some manly tears.

The game's music helps quite a bit in that brooding feeling of isolation and despair. Above is just the title screen's theme, and I think it's pretty moving emotionally. The game's music may be moving but the voice acting... well... isn't so great. Take my advice, if you want, change the dubbing to Japanese so you won't have to hear the English voice actors. All of it is subtitled anyway. The English voice acting just feels so drawn out. It seems like a sentence that should take five seconds to say will take twenty. I realize that some dialogue needs to be like that, but not all the time.

The Verdict:

Fragile Dreams is a pretty unique experience that I haven't encountered often. The only game I can think of that even comes close to something like this would be Ico. (Though Ico probably being the better game.) Fragile Dreams really felt like it had something going for it, the story, the music, the characters... but at the end of the whole thing I wanted more. Perhaps I just expected more out of an action rpg, but I can't blame the game for that. The game is still one of the better lesser known experiences on the Wii, and I would recommend it if you are looking for something different.

What I liked:

-The story
-Great atmosphere

What I didn't like:

-The English voice acting
-Ended a bit sooner than expected

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