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Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon Review

Brad Gallaway's picture

Fragile? Busted

Click here for the Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon Art Gallery

HIGH A premise that hooked me immediately.

LOW The amount of wandering and backtracking.

WTF How did this terrible inventory system get approved?

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a difficult thing to review. On the one hand, there really aren't that many "serious" efforts on the Wii, and I feel fairly petulant being critical of one when it arrives. On the other hand, only so much allowance can be made for concept and intent; after all, reviewers must base their judgments on what is and not what could or should be. As much as I may want to reward Fragile Dreams for what it attempts, I can't ignore the fact that it's a fairly painful experience.

The premise of the game is quite intriguing—players take on the role of Seto, a 15-year-old boy who finds himself alone in a post-apocalyptic world after his grandfather dies. With no immediate goal other than to find fellow survivors, I was intrigued immediately. Crossing several genres, Fragile Dreams is heavy on atmosphere and story, but is probably best described as a third-person adventure game. However, there's both more and less to it than that.  Its structural design borrows from Survival Horror and RPGs as well as Action/Adventure, yet frustratingly manages to take the worst elements from each while leaving out the best.

Making effective use of the hardware, Seto's flashlight (and viewpoint) is controlled by the Wiimote, with most objects in the environments easily seen thanks to glowing fireflies hovering above them. The Nunchuk's stick handles movement, and combat is mapped to the A button. The developers did a good job of implementing the controls, and I do want to praise them for that—it's usually my main complaint with Wii titles. That said, significant problems in the game's core design become apparent almost immediately after starting play.

Although Fragile Dreams can claim graphics which are moody and quite well-done, the structure underneath them feels extremely clunky and outdated. For example, progress can only be saved at campfires sprinkled liberally throughout each level. Without checkpoints, players must consciously return to these fires to make sure that progress isn't lost. In addition, Seto's inventory is ridiculously small, and it's insanely cumbersome to rearrange items or identify found ones without being at a campfire as well. Between saving and constantly re-allocating inventory space, a player can expect to be making pit stops at firepits on a near-constant basis, effectively destroying the natural flow of play and any feelings of freely exploring each environment.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon Screenshot

Besides this campfire-centric approach, other problems irritate as well. Rather than exploring a wasted world (or even a city) each area is rather small and has players aimlessly wandering the same ground back and forth until they happen to trigger whichever event is required to progress. Worse, later in the game players must backtrack to previous areas for what amounts to simplistic item fetching.

In some titles, this sort of boredom can be partially alleviated by entertaining combat, but Fragile Dreams stumbles here as well. With all attacking handled by one button, there is no depth or technique to the fights. It can also be quite difficult to gauge distances between Seto and his enemies, resulting in swinging wildly at thin air. (Oh, and did I mention the weapons break?) Asking a player to devote hours to this kind of stuff is the opposite of compelling and feels like an extreme waste of time.

With all that stacked against it, the fact remains that a strong story or cast of characters can often present some redeeming value and smooth over any unpleasantness, but my suspicion is that Fragile Dreams is going to split players into opposing camps of "love it" or "not" with very little room for middle ground.

For a story that seems to be a perfect vehicle for themes of isolation and loneliness, I found it ironic and unsatisfying that once past the starting area, Seto is never really alone. Instead, he's constantly interacting with one character or another in typical JRPG emo-exchanges that are neither sophisticated nor interesting enough to override the lacking gameplay. For being in a desolate shell of a world, there are entirely too many characters around.

Another misstep in the storytelling, Seto often finds "memory items" scattered throughout each level. Each relays a brief vignette attached to things like a shoe, a diary, or a paper crane. I would assume that these items are present to enhance the game's dramatic elements in some way, but it's never satisfactorily explained how Seto is privy to these bits of lore, nor do they ever add up to anything. They simply exist, and do nothing to deepen or enrich the experience. (Adding insult to injury, they also take up inventory space—collecting them means even more trips to the nearest campfire.)

I have to be honest in saying that it was extremely difficult to find motivation to continue playing, and this review is based on an incomplete run. Although the controls were solidly implemented, the graphics were some of the best I've seen on the Wii, and I do believe the developers' hearts were in the right place, Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a tedious, trying experience that didn't offer enough reason for me to carry on in spite of its downsides.  I'm sure that some Wii owners and JRPG connoisseurs will fall in love with its moody nature and deliberate pace, but despite its attempts to be a serious, artistic game on a console that's choked with brightly-colored waggle-heavy cash-ins, I really can't say that its successes outnumber its failures. Rating: 4.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Wii. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains alcohol and tobacco reference, animated blood, fantasy violence, suggestive themes. Although I did not complete the entire game, I did not encounter any significant references to alcohol, tobacco, or sexual content. There is one point in the game where two male characters kiss, but it's more an innocent misunderstanding than something innately sexual. The violence consists of the main character hitting ghosts and monsters with various types of sticks, and it's quite tame.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be aware that the game makes heavy use of the Wiimote microphone, and with no visual cue on-screen to represent these sounds, hearing-impaired players will run into a significant amount of difficulty, and may actually find it impossible to progress past certain points in the game that rely on sound. This game is not recommended for hearing-impaired players.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Wii  
Developer(s): Tri-Crescendo  
Publisher: XSeed  
Genre(s): Adventure/Explore  
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Baroque

I think now would be a great time for you to check out Baroque, Brad.

It sounds like Fragile is very thematically similar, and from your review I'd say that--at least from a narrative perspective--Baroque succeeds in all of the places that Fragile stumbles. It'd be cool to be able to compare the two.

Baroque plays like crap though, so be mindful of that. :P

I'll keep that in mind. I've

I'll keep that in mind. I've got my copy right here, so maybe when I knock a few reviews out, i'll bump it up my queue...

Any idea how long it takes to go through?

There are several things wrong with your review

First
You should have finished the game > >.
Second
I get annoyed with games that have an inventory system that just doesn't make sense. Like legend of Zelda for example, the inventory list is easy and more player friendly, but you have a thousand huge items and it just doesn't flat out make any sense how your character is carrying all that.
In this game your items had some where to be placed, Seto had a pop corn tin (I'm assuming that's the thing he has in front) and a suit case type thing on the back of him. I actually applauded the creators for thinking about what made sense on carrying space.Having such a small space to put things made more sense and made the game more challenging.
Third
I thought the old school save point thing was hassle some but if you like old school, which alot of people do it was also likeable. The mystery item made sense if you found it in the dark, but it kind of annoyed me it was still a mystery in clear day light.
Forth
I myself found it boring when you were alone since most of the characters died. In my opinion the characters should have stayed with you longer, and or joined you, it would have made players more attached to the characters. This also would have made it more emotional with the fact that the character died. Instead of saying ‘they met, the argued, they became friends, made out, then he died’ over a span of what? 4 days. (The game also should have been longer)
Though I can agree with you on the fact that the game may have been more entertaining if you ended up alone after the first character death longer.
Fifth
If you had played to the end, you would have found out in a round about way (because it really doesn't come out and say it) you can see ghosts and read memory items because of the 'weird blue stone' (Which I automatically picked up since as soon as he got it he was able to see the mask ghost demon thing > >|| In my opinion that was something that should have been obvious. I almost can’t believe you didn’t catch that.)
Yeah... That's all I'm going to criticize you on > >. BUT I don't think the game is perfect, the whole weapons breaking on ghost’s thing didn't make sense. I also found it annoying the theme park was always night >.

Fragile

I really disagree with everything you said, and I have played the game through all the way twice now.

Fragile Dreams in my eyes is perfect. There is no other game out there like it. I think you completely missed the point of the whole game. For me there are almost no games that I have played that were good to me, all new games these days are the same garbage and even ones that are bearable to play are not that good at all. This is my favorite game in the world. You focus on little things that are meant to make it interesting and challenging. You want it to be more like every other game and you put down what makes it unique. If you don't continue to play it you are really missing out on something amazing.

First of all it is not outdated, it takes place in Tokyo and it takes place in the near future but it really captures present day Tokyo very well. Second in a lot of horror games or adventure games you have to go back to previous places to get things, like a key or something. That makes in interesting.

And you are complaining about being able to explore and walk around wherever? It does that because there are drawings and words on the wall it wants you to see. That is a good thing about it, the environments on the game are beautiful and it's fun to walk around and look at stuff rather than just going exactly where you have to go.

The short stories were really wonderful to me, if you have only played six hours you wouldn't understand. Some of them almost made me want to cry because they were sad. Actually it has a lot to do with the story, because everyone is dead and those are supposed to be the thoughts of the people before they die, it adds on to the sad part of the game.

And yes the weapons break but that is too make it more realistic and challenging, and so you can have a variety of weapons to see. Same thing with the briefcase, it's to make it challenging.

The point of the campfires is to be challenging too, so that you don't always have access to the shop and you have to be careful and even a little scared to go on, that's what horror games do. I know it's not horror but it is kind of like one.

It seems you want a simple easy game where you can't explore and you only have the same weapon and you don't want a challenge. You take for granted a beautiful, sad, unique, fun, exciting game. So that's your loss then I guess.

Feel free to reply!

Hey Mina. >>I really

Hey Mina.

>>I really disagree with everything you said, and I have played the game through all the way twice now. Fragile Dreams in my eyes is perfect.

Hey, thanks very much for your reply and I appreciate the time it must taken to write out such a detailed response.

In regards to your points, I'm not trying to be flippant at all, but it's a fact that you can pick any game in the world (and I mean ANY game) and there is somebody out there who says that it's their favorite and that they love it to no end.

I can respect that.

However, everything you like about the game is something that I strongly dislike, so I think this is one case when we will have to agree to disagree. Different players have different tastes, and in my view, this is not a game that hits the right notes.

Thanks again for your response, though!

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