Wednesday, 21 September 2011

One you might have missed: Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon - Wii

Rising Star Games released this atmospheric action adventure in March 2010 and while it has its flaws, it's a charming adventure that is definitely worth a closer look.
Created by the team at Tri-Crescendo - the developer behind 360 and PS3 RPG Eternal Sonata - the story features Seto, a young boy who lives with his grandfather in a world that has been ravaged by disaster. When Seto's grandfather dies, the lonely lad packs up his belongings and sets out to try and find other survivors of the cataclysm.
The first couple of hours are a joy thanks to the game's wonderful atmosphere and beautiful visuals. Control, too, is excellent with Seto moved by the nunchuck, while the Wiimote doubles as his torch. Illuminating dark and dusty corners of this nocturnal world reveals objects which Seto can interact with. However, after those initial opening hours, cracks begin to show in Fragile's glossy casing.
Combat is basic and clumsy, with stabs of the A button swinging Seto's weapon of choice. It's hard to judge distances between you and an enemy, while the camera angle often gets in the way.
The inventory system is equally antiquated, with Seto initially having only a minuscule item carrying capacity. Objects can be switched in and out at the game's save points but going back and forth between them is a chore due to respawning enemies.
Seto can wield a variety of weapons, but as each can break, he is often left facing a room full of enemies with nothing to defend himself with. Fortunately, the wonderfully eccentric Collector makes regular appearances at the game's save points selling weapons, health buffs and other useful trinkets.
Seto's world may be crumbling, but it's still a beautiful place to explore. An abandoned shopping mall, a dilapidated train station, a rusting theme park, a run-down hotel - each location is a visual treat.
Of course, the player can run through these areas to get to the next point in the story, but it pays to wander off the beaten track in search of treasures.
Unlike most games, the loot that can be found isn't shiny coins. Instead, objects such as torn photographs and mementos are waiting to be found.
Each item is linked with its owner's memories and every object has its own background story. These narrated snippets can be quite moving and give the player an insight into the victims of Seto's ravaged world. They add a tremendous amount to the feel of the game and are well worth hunting down.
The audio, too, is well matched to the action, with lovely melodies and eerie effects adding another layer to the game. Voice work is pretty good, and the option to switch between English and Japanese is a welcome addition.
It may not be perfect, but Fragile Dreams is still a beautiful and haunting experience. Its slow pace and clunky combat may put some off, but thanks to its inspired art design and original touches, it's an adventure you should definitely consider taking.

1 comment:

Bryan Ochalla said...

I've been interested in this game ever since it was announced for release in Japan. Although I've yet to buy it, I plan on fixing that soon enough -- in part because of your great write-up here. Thanks for reminding me of this game :)