Notice the low critics' score, but the high user score
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon,
is one of the most amazing video games I have ever played, and it was one I nearly missed. From the moment I first saw footage of the game I was enticed. I'm an unemployed college student at the moment which means my gaming budget is very limited, and I make precautions to make sure I don't regret buying a game because once my budget runs out, that it's. Fragile
received an overwhelming influx of negative reviews, so I had decided to skip the game. January of this year I received an email price alert that Fragile
had dropped down to twenty dollars. I still wanted to play the game, so I decided to take the risk. I wasn't expecting to be wowed, I was expecting a mediocre experience. I thought that I would regret buying the game, and that my money would be better spent elsewhere. I was almost immediately proven wrong.
From the moment I opened the game I knew it was special. It came with a reversible cover, the North American cover on the front and the Japanese cover on the back. The booklet was in full color and was decorated in a unique and appealing manner, it contained some back story and elaborated on character personalities in the bio section. This quality of booklet has become a rarity in modern gaming.
When I started the game up I was greeted by a stunning start up screen that was playing beautiful music, and I was given the option to play the game using the original Japanese voice acting (which greatly improved the game).
Ultimately the bad reviews aided in my enjoyment of the game. When I was playing the game I was expecting the worst, I was expecting a clunky game with awful controls, and a bad story. Since I had already anticipated the bad to an extreme level it cushioned the blow when I reached an area of frustration. Fragile Dreams
is actually very polished it's just that some of the design choices the developers made rendered the gameplay to be tedious and boring at times.
I actually enjoyed the controls, the game ran silky smooth, and the combat although bare bones (a single three to five hit attack combo) felt oddly satisfying in a way. I didn't feel the menu to be clunky like many had reported, it could have been better streamlined, but I've experienced far worse. Critics disliked the story, but that was the major draw to me. All of the games issues fall underneath one umbrella, It was a game built on survivor horror mechanics, that was not scary. Survival horror games often have small inventory screens, like this game did. The problem is that you are constantly collecting items so every ten minutes you have to stop what you're doing to readjust your inventory. The game is not scary, you fight the same handful of enemies repeatedly some of which are laughable like pigeons and dogs. I don't want to paint a rosy picture that this game is perfect, some of the negative criticisms are warranted, but sometimes gameplay is not the most important component of a game. Costume Quest
is my favorite PSN game, even though the turn-based battle system was very primitive, the overall charm made up for it. From a strictly gameplay perspective Shadow of the Colossus
wasn't flawless, the camera became uncontrollable at times, the frame rate would drop severely when too much action was happening on onscreen, timing jumps could become a frustrating and tedious process, but despite its faults many were able to look past it's nuisances and enjoy the game for it was, a beautiful and tragic game with a deeper meaning. I consider this game to be in the same vain, although twenty percent of the game was a chore, the remainder of the game more than made up for it.
Fragile is an accurate title for this game because it's delicate, this is the kind of game that you have to play slowly and savor. In order to fully appreciate the game you have to be able to empathize with the characters. What made this game an experience like no other was the scenery and trinkets Seto picked up along the way. That ranged anywhere between toy cars, dog collars, and wedding rings. Whenever I reached a new area I would thoroughly examine every corner to discover lost items, and read the graffiti and cries for help written on the walls. The items you picked up would reveal a story when opened in front of a fire. These stories are what I consider the main attraction. If you did not search for them then you missed out on what made this game great. The stories varied greatly within each other some were short and comedic while others were long and poetic, each being told from a different perspective of various age groups of not only people, but animals as well. This is where the Japanese voice acting really shined, the actors did a phenomenal job at capturing emotion. If you used the English dub, then you got a different experience. Although the English dub was not awful the actors weren't as convincing with their performances, if I had played the entire game using the English voice actors I would not have been as heavily immersed in Fragile's
universe. I think many of the people who disliked the game played it with the dub.
The art direction in this game is stunning. I must have looked at Sai's character model a hundred times, and I never got sick of it. From an artistic standpoint this is one of the most beautiful games I've ever played.
I, like most males have always had difficulty expressing myself emotionally. It has to do with the way I've been socialized to never show weakness, because it's unattractive to the opposite sex, and that would conflict with my human need of romantic companionship. Whenever I've faced extreme emotional pain, I've done my best to mask my battle with adversity. When my girlfriend of four years cheated on me my reaction was a laugh and a shrug, I pushed my true feelings into the deepest crevice of mind hoping that they would dissipate with time. I've been doing my best to reverse these effects of socialization, tears are toxic and they are suppose to be released, holding them back is akin to holding back vomit.
One of the items I had picked up revealed a story, (this might be considered a *mini-spoiler*
to some, it's not a part of the main storyline though, and it's possible for someone to beat the game without discovering this story. Skip to the next paragraph if that kind of thing bothers you).
The story was one of a homeless girl who had suffered neglect and abuse with no one to turn to for human comfort. She had come across a corpse in an alley. She recognized the dead body, it was of a wealthy girl she had jealously observed from a distance. She took some twisted enjoyment that this girl who had come from a loving affluent family was now dead, and at the same time felt horrible grief for this person she barely knew. She then proceeded by stripping the clothes from her carcase, so she could impersonate the deceased. The dead girl's mother was terribly sick and was suffering of faulty vision and hearing, so she was able to pull it off successfully. The family servants played along with her act. The entire time that this was happening the homeless girl's internal monologue was narrating the immense guilt, and hatred towards herself that was wrestling with her sanity for committing such a putrid and deceitful act. She wanted to stop herself and confess, but she couldn't bear to have the mother be abandoned by her daughter for a second time. All she wanted was to love someone and have them love her in return.
It was at that moment that the game had reached me in a way that no other form of media had managed to do before. I felt a frozen dagger pierce my heart with fiery intensity. I thought about how many people in the world were afflicted with similar emotions and would go to extreme lengths to remedy them. The empathy was overwhelming. I felt a warm tear inch itself out of my right eyelid, and then another from my left. Only a a few came out somewhere between two to six. I handled it the same way Seto did I let my tears finish, I raised my hand and gently used the tip of my knuckle to wipe away the small puddle that had formed, I then sniveled, and lifted my wii-remote, pointed it at the sensor bar, and proceeded onto my next destination.
When I'm playing Uncharted
I don't feel like Nathan Drake, When I'm play Galaxy
I don't feel like Mario, Instead I feel like some omniscient character that's performing puppetry backstage. When I was playing Fragile
I was Seto and Seto was me, our emotions were in tandem. The fear of not knowing what was lurking around the next dark corner, the quite sadness that permeated our hearts that was slowly burrowing itself beneath our skin. The warm comforting glow of the fireplace where we had decided to take a rest. I've felt connections with characters before, I've laughed, been upset, and gotten angry, but I never experienced complex emotions or empathy as deeply before, this game managed to capture the more subtle emotions like loneliness and disappointment.
I'm not trying to sound pretentious, nor am I mad at the reviewers that didn't appreciate the game to the extent that I did. Some people just didn't make the same connection with the game that I did, and I can't fault them for that. I remember watching an interview with Park Chan-Woo
(watch: I'm a Cyborg, Old boy
) and he was asked about one of his films that had been critically panned, he responded by saying that he felt sympathy for that film. He didn't consider it to be bad, he wasn't entirely sure why that particular film was received negatively while many of his other films were praised. He compared the situation to having daughters, two of them got happily married, but the third daughter is stuck in loveless relationship with her husband. Instead of being upset with her your filed with sadness, you spent all that time raising someone beautiful that you were proud of, but she wasn't appreciated like you felt she deserved. You have no regrets with the way she turned out, you just wish someone else would love her the same way you did. That's how I feel about this game. I don't exactly know where everything went wrong. This game has it's fault, but I didn't find them to be anymore extreme then the faults I found in Shadow of the Colossus, Okami
, or the PS2 version of Psychoanauts.
Gamers as a whole were able to look past these minor blemishes and enjoy these games for the true beauties that they are, why couldn't they with this one?
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
you were one of the most beautiful, amazing, and touching video games I've ever played. I just wish that more people appreciated you and you wouldn't have to sink into obscurity.
As the moonlight casts long shadows,
I take a hold of your hands.
I open a door, searching for a dream
once swallowed by darkness.
Soon the skies will clear, I thought I felt it
pass by in front of my eyes.
Remembering the warmth of your hands
I call your name.
In this uncertain world, you stood firm with me.
The rain murmurs softly
as it soaks the earth.
Lured into a deep slumber
I dreamt of life, a dream I never woke from.
The break of dawn pulls on my hand
taking with it all my memories.
We all speak of love, leaving behind
tales of our struggles, in hopes to be remembered.
Soon the skies will clear.
I can see how far it stretches above me.
Remembering the warmth of your hands,
I call your name.
In this uncertain world, you stood firm with me.