It’s really difficult for me to sit down and write this review. After my time with Tri-Crescendo’s Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, I can honestly say that I was dumbfounded by how emotionally engaged I was by the story. Rest assured, the experience to be had here is a memorable one, one way or the other. And I will tell you why, in due time.
First, however, I want to cover the flaws. There aren’t that many of them (by my reckoning, anyway), and getting them out of the way leaves me even more time to gush about this stand-out title.
Let’s not waste time here – combat is not Fragile Dreams’ strong suit. Most encounters dissolve into muttered expletives and frustrated proclamations of “Why the hell can’t I reach this bastard!?” However, this is certainly one of those games where combat doesn’t really matter so much as the main experience, as I will get to in short order. The most consistent offender is the annoying tendency of enemies to float out of your reach. Combat isn’t tough, it’s just drawn out. It gets better towards the end of the game (which is a godsend, allowing you to contentedly finish the title off). Other than that, fighting won’t test your skills exponentially.
The only other real flaw I can touch upon for Fragile is its obvious technical and budgetary limitations. This wasn’t a particularly huge release, and by coupling that with the platform its on, you aren’t looking at anything revolutionary in the texture or resolution departments. That’s really the only other qualm I have here, and so from here on out, consider this a love letter to Fragile Dreams.
While we’re on the subject of visuals, let me point out that the technical limitations of this game by no means take away from the brilliant art style featured. In that sense, this is probably the prettiest, most imaginative title I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing on the Wii. Character design is paramount in anything as story heavy as this, and Fragile hits on all cylinders. From protagonist Seto, to Ren – the object of his curiosity very early on in the game – to any of the colorful cast that populate this barren, post-apocalyptic (well, sort of) atmosphere, you’ll see a vast amount of creativity.
Working hand-in-hand with the visuals is the utterly fantastic audio component of the game. The voice acting (and more specifically, the pacing of the script) is great, with Bleach star Johnny Yong Bosch leading an excellent cast. Granted, he sounds like Michael Jackson when doing his younger voice, but he really breaths life into Seto, and makes us connect with the timid youth. In a game like this, where there is such limited interaction with a huge variety of other people, having a character you connect with is critical.
Not only is the voice and ambient sound great, but the soundtrack is stunning. Seriously, if you have the chance get it and put it on as you’re going to sleep one night. An adventure in and of itself, standout tracks include “The Girl With Silver Hair”, “Beautiful”, and “Together With the Moon”. As I’ve repeated multiple times in this review, and likely will again, the main draw of this game is its emotional journey, and the soundtrack bolsters that.
It helps that the environments you traverse are, for the most part, awe inspiring. Levels are not needlessly shrouded in darkness, but are expertly lit, as if by a film’s DP. Generally, these are great and evocative, but you will notice sections that seem a bit too barren, and more like mere transit locales to get you to the next awesome area. Don’t worry though, kids, it’s all good in the hood (the “hood” being deserted Japan). The boring bits of the game are mostly just sprinkled throughout, and rarely last long enough to pull you out of the game.
When my time with Fragile Dreams finally concluded, I was extremely pleased. The game doesn’t at any point jump the shark, and wraps up nicely. However, I can’t help but feel that playing through it again would be counter-productive. Like a movie that’s great the first time, but exposes its flaws more and more with repeat viewings, Fragile Dreams is no doubt a game meant to be played once and once only. This isn’t an issue, since it has a decent length (about 9-10 hours for most), and it’s so well put together that it’s one hell of a ride.
I have no problem recommending a purchase, since it’s well worth the money, but keep in mind that it’s most likely a one-way ticket. Finally, I’d like to leave you with a question. Was Ico all about its puzzles and gameplay, or about its over arching experience as a whole? Keep that in mind while wandering through the beautiful world of Fragile.
The visual presentation and art style at work in this game are astounding, and a pure treat to observe. With a few exceptions, the level design is great as well.
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Combat is generally a cumbersome task until the last third of the game, but exploring the environments is a blast. For the most part, the Wii controls work well.
Absolutely blissful. From the beautiful soundtrack to the fantastic voice acting, this game is a treat for your ears.
The game clocks in at a decent length, is paced perfectly and will take 9-10 hours for most people to complete. However, a second playthrough isn't really required, and the inital experience should be cherished.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a gorgeous, engaging and touching experience, and one that no Wii owner should be without. However, iffy combat and some dull level design hold it back from being absolutely perfect.