(Warning – May contain Spoilers)
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a bitter sweet story of loss, loneliness, and a young boys journey to simply find another living being in the post apocalyptic wasteland of Japan. Developed by Namco and released in North America in 2010 exclusively for the Wii, Fragile Dreams is acclaimed as one of the greatest RPG’s ever released for the Wii.
A single player game, it is set in the ruins of Japan after a mysterious epidemic wiped out almost everyone on the planet. You play as Seto, a fifteen year old boy who just lost the only other living being he has ever known and must go out in search for any other survivor. However, many monsters that can loosely be called ‘ghost’ appear to have taken over the land and decaying ruins block the way ahead. Seto quickly finds one survivor, the young silver haired cat girl Ren who longs to meet another human as well but runs in fear for unknown reason. While searching for Ren he also discovers the secret behind the end of humanity and a plot to finish off any survivors. While it appears to be a survival horror game, it is more of a testament to human nature and how knowing to much can cause destruction.
Fragile Dreams has an unparalleled plot in which Seto must brave the ruins of Japan in search of Ren, uncovering more of the sad fate of humanity and its inward claps in on itself. During his journey Seto also encounters many different characters, each with a remarkably vivid energy and personality. Some of these include P.F. (Personal Frame) the portable computer, Crow the rude and sneaky boy with amnesia, The Merchant a bizarre man with the appearance of a chicken wandering the waste trading goods for his princess, and lastly Sai the ‘ghost’ of a young woman with a dark past. What makes the plot truly bitter sweet is the secrets and fate of every other character in the game, all of whom are seeking something but get something unexpected instead.
The stunning visuals and background art are what really pull this game together. Character models are all beautiful and really speak about each individual character. Each character has a unique and intricate model that really emphasizes their role in the game (especially my favorite character The Merchant, who is the most unusual, funny, and tragic character). Environment models are also stunning, spanning from the ruins of a train station, to an amusement park, a forest hotel, and back into the city. Many area’s also appear as if they were inhabited at some point with a variety of items and posters scattered everywhere. There are also messages and other things in plain sight or hidden, all of which paint a picture of what happened to the people. It also creates a unique eerie atmosphere that really makes the User feel as if they are the only ones left on the planet, even though they are constantly be joined by someone (or something). The masterpiece art though has to be the background, unmatched skylines at sunset and stars in the night sky really provide a sense of aw.
The music builds off the atmosphere and helps improve the mood of loneliness, mystery, and determination that Seto has to find Ren. The musical scores are all very well done which helps to emphasize situations and entertain the User a bit during more trivial task. The song with lyrics in the playlist called ‘Hikari’ itself is extremely peaceful and haunting. The voice acting is also very well done, bringing each character to life. The game includes both Japanese and English VO, so it’s nice to have a choice but both are actually very well done, which is rare. When the game was first released people with pre-orders at gamestop actually received a copy of the OST.
Where this game lacks, and suffered so much in other reviews, was in gameplay mechanics. Playing is simple enough, you have a flashlight to see in the dark and to find secret items, messages, and even enemies hiding in plain sight with special filters. To attack Seto can pick up various items in the game world or buy them from The Merchant, such as sticks, golf clubs, and even cross bows. Weapons are ranked by how powerful they are and wear down with time, so much like with weapons in Dead Island, if they are used to much they will break and become useless. The trouble with fighting though is that there is no lock on, so more often than not the User is blindly swinging around trying to hit enemies or trying to shoot incoming enemies with a ranged weapon. The game has a great story, but at the same time the User may find themselves backtracking constantly trying to fulfill some mundane task or collecting job. This causes the story to come to a screeching stop just to go back and retrieve something in an area long passed, sometimes multiple times. While this is tedious it is common in RPG’s, the main issue with gameplay is the leveling up system. While the User can level up and become stronger little by little by fighting monsters while progressing through the game it is not really required. For the most part, the User can pass through the entire game without really fighting anything except a few mandatory bosses, making it appear as if it was put in at the last second. What makes this devastating though is the fact that if the User is not at a decent level by the final fight, they will find it nearly impossible to win and with no way to turn back at that point.
Overall, Fragile Dreams is a dark and depressing story, but it has a fair share of touching moments with an ending that will surprise and bring anyone to tears. Despite what it lacks in gameplay, the art and music of the game is more than enough to make up for it, making it an excellent choice for any RPG fan. However, the story is what really makes the game, it will keep you going for hours on end just to figure out a little more of the mystery. The only problem with this is that it eliminates all replay value, once you beat the game there is really nothing left to do but play through and hear the story again. Which may not be a bad thing, it can be easy to miss something. Either way, if you have a Wii and want to try something different I suggest you go find this game, if nothing else you can enjoy the great plot. I also never did figure out what the title of the game is supposed to refer to, it’s the last mystery I never figured out.