|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: tri-Crescendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Xseed||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 19, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It's long been debated whether or not games can be art, but I will tell you right now, Fragile Dreams offers an experience that should clear up any doubt on the matter. Developer Tri-Crescendo takes players on a powerful journey through a post-apocalyptic world that will tug at your heart at every turn. The real question here, however, is: can art be a game?
You take on the role of Seto, and your journey begins with you burying the old man who has, up until this point, been caring for you in this desolate world you call home. You're on a quest to find other survivors, and your travels through this lonely land will be filled with both discovery and sadness.
Though the art style of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is unmistakably Japanese, the experience is far removed from your typical JRPG. As a matter of fact, the game isn't really an RPG when you get right down to it, but we'll get to that in just a moment.
The focus of Fragile Dreams is on its prose, and to that end, it is - and I say this without any hesitation - true poetry. The dialogue is flawless, the story progression is almost perfectly paced, and the crux of the game's expression is: humanity - our flaws, our triumphs, our fears, and our love. You will feel something when you play Fragile Dreams
To be sure, I was completely swept up by the experience, and on more than one occasion, I was driven to tears. As Seto wanders these abandoned ruins, he'll come upon keepsakes that store the memories of their former owners. The back-story is directly linked to these mementos discovered throughout the game, and it's a mesmerizing strand of the journey that drives you onward.
For all intents and purposes, Fragile Dreams is an adventure game with light combat tossed into the mix. Seto will gain experience and level up by defeating enemies, but increasing your health and attack power is pretty much the extent of the game's RPG components. Thankfully, most of your time will be spent investigating environments, exploring the world, and experiencing the wonders of the story.
You will have to do some fighting, and unfortunately, it's the game's one true Achilles' heel. Before I get too deeply into that, however, let me first explain the controls so that you'll fully understand why combat was such a thorn in my side while playing this game.
Fragile Dreams calls for use of both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. You move Seto with the analog stick, and camera control is handled by pointing the Wii Remote. If you try to move the Wii Remote too quickly to the edge of the screen in order to change your view, the camera will lock. So, you're forced to move quite slowly, and as you've probably already surmised, this will leave you wide open to attacks when engaging enemies. It can also be a bit frustrating when simply trying to look around for clues and items, though it's easier to forgive when you can take your time.
With the camera being what it is, combat becomes an awkward dance of stepping on your own toes, so to speak. I eventually found various tricks that got me through the game's requisite encounters, but it was ultimately the equivalent of using duct tape to hold together Michelangelo's David. When push came to shove, I ran past every enemy I could, and to the game's credit, I was still always leveled up sufficiently to take on unavoidable fights.
I'm not sure a lock-on feature would have helped, either, as the combat itself just isn't that interesting. It's mostly a matter of tapping the A button, but there are a handful of ranged weapons that make fun use of the Wii Remote's pointer functionality.
I can't deny the combat in Fragile Dreams was a substantial sore spot for me, and there were other elements of the gameplay that also fell a bit flat. A stealth mini-game, hide-and-go-seek, fetch quests, and insanely long, drawn-out treks down boring corridors - none these things were all that exciting, though they each proved to be a competent means to the story's end. In spite of my disappointment with the camera and its effects on combat, I absolutely fell head over heels for the story and overall experience.