Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

released on Jan 22, 2009

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

released on Jan 22, 2009

Fragile Dreams takes place after an apocalyptic event that wiped out most of mankind. Young Seto finds a note from his deceased grandfather urging him to travel to the red tower that lights up the night sky. Along the way he finds a young, silver haired girl Ren who drives him to journey through the ruined world in search of companionship. Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is an action-adventure game with light RPG elements and a focus on exploring the often desolate surroundings. Players are tasked with navigating the empty environments while fighting ghosts and obtaining items such as sketches and short stories that reveal the last moments of the lives of those lost in the great catastrophe. Seto is guided through a third-person perspective and the flashlight is one of his most important aids. Controlled through the Wii Remote it illuminates dark surroundings to interact with the environment and is needed to solve many puzzles. It can also uncover hidden enemies and often a sound through the mini speaker provides a hint about their location. The Nunchuck is used to walk, sneak around, and crouch. It is possible to go into a first-person perspective to get a better view of the environment. Additional weapons that can be picked up during the course of the game are sticks, an iron pipe, a bow, a hammer, a bamboo sword, and a katana.

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Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon - where the clunk is part of the appeal.

Being frankly honest, this feels like something I would make if I was more into actual game design and not just its philosophy left to those that consider themselves developers, and I don't just mean that to be any description of derogatory, but because for as obscure as this game is, this does feel like a Secondary School-era passion project, as flawed and (evidently) on a shoe-string budget as it is. I've found myself rummaging through the Wii's library as of late, so I saw this and thought 'screw it, why not? Tegamibachi happened to be an anime that landed in my lap randomly one day, and that became one of my top 5 anime of all time - could this pull off the same for gaming?'. Hence, we're here now (complete with exploration mechanics that have you reading into peoples memories through inanimate objects... one of the few pleasant coincidences I've come across, I'm sure).

For what little reviews there are on this site (and what little PR there was for this game in general), you'd hear a lot about 'clunky gameplay, but an emotional story', and I'm... a little bit more willing to split the difference on that one, of which I say so for a few reasons, foremost of which is that my own Wii equipment (softmodded for this playthrough as it may be) has... seen better days. Ergo, the instances where the cursor controls ordained to freak out slightly (which thankfully, happened far less than you'd be lead to believe), I almost primarily chocked it up to that (although how I had my monitor and sensor set up could have also used some work). That is not to say that this game's systems aren't without fault, as it's... quite basic (which in and of itself is not a bad thing), and combat encounters become inconsequential or otherwise easily avoidable for a good 80+% of the game. Even the more annoying enemy types like the 'eye-in the back Ghost women' and re-animated puppets with the shoulder barge generally give you enough time to turn around and say 'ok, you're going to be obnoxious about this? I'll just leave then', with a key exception going to some of the narrow hallways in endgame making encounters a chore to move past. Think Enel's complaints about combat encounters in Xenosaga II, and then multiply that by any random whole integer you might be thinking of (although given that I seem to be one of the few people on earth that didn't personally mind XS2 encounters, that's probably not saying much). The lategame also encourages you somewhat away from your standard Melee options and onto Bows/Crossbows, so take that for what you will.

Now for story and characters, and in my opinion... the writing is quite stilted (not to mention a lead voiced by mid-late 2000s Johnny Yong Bosch... do with that information what you may), but as for the ideas it presents, I have to give it credit for being one of the few cautionary tales about 'muh emotions', boundaries and post-Xenoblade (even though XC came after, but bare with me on this...) narratives about men playing god for the rest of the world that doesn't manage to be condescending. As someone on the autistic spectrum, I genuinely have to ask myself what this game would have been like to grow up with this on release day, and not as some 24yr old bloke still killing time while looking for a job (or the end of the world, as this narrative goes for the jugular at the back end of it's runtime... to think I'm finding these allegories now...).

On that note, I have to also give credit to the final battle against Shin for really understanding the assignment of being a finale predicated on a microcosm of it's own design philosophy. Shin and the Glass Cage arc might be a bit of a last-minute addition, but I actually really vibe with the idea of his two phases not really changing much because of the insanity he fell under as a result of being implicitly condescended to by those managing the experiments that he signed up to (seriously, the AI allegory that FD uses is... harrowing, to say the least).

Not much else to say here. Fragile Dreams just happened to tickle my weird niche for the week.

A game with very cheap controls and dumb AI enemies, however I will note the high attention to detail and beautiful anime videos and good use of the Wii Remote features

This review contains spoilers

Loved the aesthetic, vibes and memory sequences, but clunky as hell...

Beautiful game that explores the loneliness of the world. The gameplay was a bit choppy at times but it never took away from the wonderful experience of this gem. An extremely underrated game that I would recommend to every person out there.

This review contains spoilers

I picked this game up from a bargain bin back when I was something like 11-12 years old. The gloomy cover art stuck out to me amongst the sea of other Wii shovelware titles (and the occasional Just Dance), so I begged my mom to pay the 10-15 bucks I needed to buy it.

That afternoon, I popped the disk in and was immediately drawn in by the atmosphere. The quiet strings of the title theme started up and I remember just sitting there in front of the TV, listening to it for a while.

"At the very end of a summer that was all too short, the old man I was living with passed away. Even after all the years I spent together, I never knew his name. Later that evening, I dug a shallow grave in the front yard of our home and buried him there." This intro has a permanent spot in my brain. I can pretty much still quote it word for word. Seto's emotionally distant voice accompanied by the screeching cicadas and the sound of a shovel striking dirt establishes an incredible vibe. It has all you could ever want for an excellent intro.

And Fragile Dreams carries this atmosphere throughout the entire game. Little middle school me was absolutely enraptured. I spent my summer with Seto and his post-apocalyptic world, learning about the people who had vanished from it alongside him. Discovering the beauty (and sometimes the horror) of quiet, abandoned places. This game is so carefully crafted to elicit stirrings of melancholy and some undefined sadness from your soul. The story isn't perfect, in fact I'd argue that act three's pacing was pretty bad and there were some loose threads that really should've been picked up by the end, but the overall themes and excellent character driven storytelling really pulled me in. The set design and beautiful visuals accompanied by a sparsely used but incredibly moving OST really cements the experience in your brain. Godawful combat and some baffling gameplay design choices bogged down that experience plenty, but as a kid I was happy to slog through the next pack of random enemies (that would despawn and respawn if you backed out of their detection range) if it meant I could get another mystery item with more story.

That said, this is a game, not a movie. And revisiting it, the fact that my wonderful exploration experience going through this world was marred by having to suffer through terrible combat encounters (horrible movement, no dodging, physically attacking anything feels like moving through molasses) and bad gameplay design (punishingly small inventory that obviously took inspiration from Resident Evil's Tetris style storage, constant backtracking, straight line level design with load screens for every new room or hallway, etc.) brings this game's rating straight down. I wouldn't be surprised if the dev team was sorely strapped for time towards the tail end of development, or just didn't really know what to design to fill gameplay time, and thus defaulted to combat (that they obviously could not get right). It's not like this game is survival horror - it's got horror elements, but it's no Resident Evil, and it didn't need to be shoehorned into something similar to it. It's already a sub 10 hour game, the padding just made it worse.

2.5 is all I can give it, and that's with all the heavy lifting being done by the fantastic atmosphere and storytelling. Did I mention Fragile Dreams also has some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read in a game? God I wish this game could get a modern remake somehow, with the all the design flaws ironed out. Then I would actually be recommending people play it instead of just watching it on YouTube to skip the agony of combat.