Fragile Dreams is a pretty decent adventure title, but let me tell you something, mister, when I first started playing it, I almost instantly hated it. Its opening monologue about the protagonist’s guardian croaking had me groaning and dragging my hand down my face. The first thought I had was, "Is this going to be some sappy, anime’d-up version of that new Robert Pattinson stinker, Remember Me?" It definitely seemed that way with its cheese ball poetry and pauses between every few words to add unnecessary emotional pull to it.
However, after actually playing the game, it turns out it's actually pretty good. It’s not great mind you, as it has a LOT of factors keeping it in mediocre territory. But it’s good to the extent that it’s actually playable and even fun at parts, and that’s saying a lot for a third-party Wii game these days.
The story goes a little something like this: After an unnamed apocalyptic event occurs, you’re left all alone in a world shrouded by darkness. Now, in this darkness, there are ghosts and wild animals roaming all about, and your task is simply to keep on moving, as there’s no telling what kind of thing might happen to you next. That sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it almost is except for one damning factor—your main character is a total wuss.
That’s right, I said it, a wuss. You take on the role of Seto, who’s about as girlishly anime as a boy character can possibly be in a video game (yes, girlier than a Final Fantasy hero). He's got long hair and oversized eyes and is hardly the kind of character you'd want to be your avatar in a post-apocalyptic. However, you're stuck with him the whole game.
You’re not alone though, as you also get a portable carry-on device called a Personal Frame (Or just PF for short) pretty early on in the game. This device is sort of like a talking robot buddy that you carry on your back with you. But instead of it being snippy and lightening up the mood a little bit, a la, GLaDOS from Portal, it’s all detached and boring, leading for a pretty lackluster sidekick. It was depressing to be saddled with not one, but two, lame characters for the bulk of the game.
The combat is just plain terrible beyond belief. Remember 3D adventure games before The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time? No? Well good, because they sucked ass. But for some reason, Fragile Dreams harkens back to that time by not adding a lock-on feature for the combat, so instead, you just swing your weapon around like an idiot, making contact occasionally, but never being completely sure that you’re going to hit anything until you see the number of damage points appear over their heads. Why?
What makes matters worse is that some of the creatures in this game are actually pretty cool, so a cleaner and smoother combat system would have actually done wonders for the game. Now, I’m not saying that the creatures in this game are abominations with boils all over their bodies or a bag over their head, waving a chainsaw around like a maniac, but they’re all still pretty cool as they fit the subtle atmosphere and dark mood of the game. One such creature, for instance, are the jellyfish-like ghosts that can only be seen when you put your flashlight beam on them, making for some pretty scary moments when you see their red eyes glowing in the dark.
The way you use your Wii-Mote is pretty cool, too. As mentioned earlier, you’re given a flashlight as most of the game is shrouded in darkness (Almost TOO much darkness, at parts, even), and your WIi-mote is what you use to light up the areas in front of you. Sure, a flashlight has been done before in the past in video games before, so that’s nothing new, but never have I really felt my hand actually tremble before in a game as I did with this game as I actually felt like I was HOLDING the flashlight in my hand and seeing the twinkling eyes of some giant dog looking right at me in the distance in real life. Spooky.
Also, the sound adds another element of fright to the game as you’ll usually hear a buzzing noise when something is near you at times. In fact, you can even hear whispering or the laughter of children when they’re nearby and can’t be seen. One creepy segment of the game has you playing a game of Hide and Seek with a ghost and the only way you can find her is by following her childish laughter across the room by the sound coming from your Wii-mote.
So overall, Fragile Dreams has a lot going for it—the atmosphere, the cool Wii-mote flashlight, the sound effects—but enough going against it—the shoddy combat, the lame characters, the somewhat mawkish storyline—to keep it pretty middle of the road for me. Give it a rent though if what I wrote above sounds interesting to you.
Developer: Namco, tri Crescendo
Publisher: XSeed Games