Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a role-playing game for the Nintendo Wii. It was developed by tri-Crescendo and Project Venus, and originally published by Namco-Bandai in Japan. The North American release was published by XSEED Games on March 16, 2010. Subsequently, it was released in PAL regions by Rising Star Games on March 19, 2010. The developers goal for Fragile Dreams was to make a "human drama" instead of simply a game, much like Quantic's Dreams Heavy Rain, focusing on eliciting an emotional response from the player.
Fragile Dreams is set in a post-apocalyptic near-future Tokyo. Seto, the protagonist of the game, finds himself alone after the old man taking care of him died. Believing himself to be possibly be the only person left alive, he sets out in search of other survivors and clues as to why human civilisation has come to an end. Exploring the ruins of previously inhabited cities, he encounters a mysterious silver-haired girl named Ren who he spends most of the game trying to find. Desperately alone and in need of social contact, Seto's journey puts him into contact with various persons, spirits, and ghosts both hostile and friendly.
One of the few survivors in the dead future, he is searching for other survivors like himself. After living with an older man for most of his life, he sets off into a lonely world with only the last dying words of the old man in his ears, "You are not alone!"
A lonely young girl who ventures around in ruins, looking for treasure, whilst drawing large graffiti and meeting with cats.
The ghost of a young girl who wanders the ruins of the world.
An amnesiac who, despite his condition, remains very cheerful, whilst being mischievous and straightforward at the same time. He continues to travel the world in order to find his birthplace, relying solely on a single photo.
A portable interactive personal assistant with advanced A.I. that Seto carries on his back. With a startlingly human demeanor, her gentle voice offers Seto advice and assistance as they make their way through the ruins of the world.
The bodiless consciousness of a small girl.
A mysterious man who appears before Seto, trading for various goods. Always merry, he seems to have an obsession with sparkly things.
The game's gameplay systems can be divided into exploration, inventory management, and combat.
This is the main focus of Fragile Dreams' gameplay. Seto's only means of exploring his environment effectively, due to the lack of illumination, is a flashlight (of which he finds a few different types during the course of his travels). The flashlight is controlled by the Wiimote and used to scour the ruins for items, clues, and enemies that are often only detectable with light. In order to search more effectively, pressing the 'B' button on the Wiimote allows Seto to zoom into a first person perspective instead of the usual third. A 'special' flashlight allows the player to find hidden messages written on the walls.
Many of the game's objectives revolve around finding a specific item or path to reach a certain area. If Seto is near enemies, Silent Hill-style ambient noise from the Wiimote's microphone alerts the player to their presence. The Wiimote will also pick up ambient noise, as environmental cues can be important for determining which way to go. In some cases the player will also have to look out for environmental hazards: cracked tiles or rusted walkways might indicate that the player has to tread carefully or risk falling.
If the player desires they may also play with stray cats that can be found in most areas, if they have the requisite items.
Seto can only carry a limited number of items at a time, so the player must constantly manage what items and weapons they wish to have on hand, although the number of items the player can hold increases over time. Fortunately, firepits can be found in most areas of the game, and these allow the player to move items to a briefcase for future storage. Much like the crate in early Resident Evil games, the briefcase can only be accessed at a firepit. Besides restoring health, the firepit also allows the player to identify "mystery items" (most of the items the player will acquire). The types of items found are:
Restorative Items: candy, old instant lunches, energy drinks, etc.
Memory items: Obtaining these items will trigger a flashback sequence associated with the item. These little vignettes of what people were thinking or feeling before the apocalypse provide psychological insight into the lives of numerous characters, and sometimes stylistically resemble parables. Although some memory items stand alone, others may form a connected story related to a character's life.
Precious items: Gold, crystals, gems, etc. These are traded in for cash to buy items from the merchant who randomly appears at the firepit.
Weapons: there are four different types of weapon in Fragile Dreams. The first type are "stick" weapons that allow for quick combos (stick, bamboo sword, pipe, golf club, katana). The second type are "staves" that trade attack speed for greater reach and allow the player to do a sweeping attack that covers a wide arc (butterfly net, broom, pole, spear). The third type are slow but powerful "hammer" weapons that can also do a charge attack causing massive damage to a single enemy (mallet, axe, hammer). Finally, the last type comprise projectile weapons that have unlimited ammo but are also prone to breaking (slingshot, shortbow, longbow, and crossow). They also tend to be the most useful against bosses.
The nunchuk provides standard analog control for movement and strafing and the Wiimote pointer determines where the player will attack. All attacks are performed by pressing or holding down the 'A' button, and in some cases combos can be chained together. Some enemies are only detectable using light and will be slowed as light is shined on them. Sounds from the Wiimote help to determine where they are relative to the player's position. Most enemies have relatively simple patterns that can be easily memorised, and the same is true of the bosses. Each enemy defeated increases Seto's experience, and level-ups increase Seto's HP and attack power. At the end of a battle equipped weapons have a random chance of breaking depending on the durability of the weapon.
First Contact with the Outside World
After burying the nameless old man responsible for his upbringing, Seto finds himself "truly alone in the world." After some unknown catastrophic event, human civilization has broken down completely. Nature is quickly reclaiming the cities, the overgrowth testament to the lack of human presence. Seto is instructed by the old man in a letter to seek out a Tower, where he is meant to find something important. Seto leaves his former home to explore the ruins of a nearby city, Tokyo. The first person he encounters is a silver-haired girl, Ren, singing in the moonlight. When he approaches her, she is startled and falls, knocking herself out. Seto checks to see if she is ok and Ren runs away in fright.
Seto follows after her, entering abandoned shopping mall. In the distance he hears what sounds like an automated message. Investigating further, Seto discovers a PF in a water-damaged office. A PF is a 'digital interactive assistant' or a robot that is able to empathise with people and offer them advice. Seto asks the PF if it has seen the girl, to which it initially says yes then says no. The PF seems to know more about the situation than it lets on, evading Seto's questions and dismissing his interest in the girl. It is possible the PF is also jealous of Seto's desire for social contact. Seto finds some drawings on the floor in the mall indicating that at some point she had stayed there.
The Search Continues
Eventually Seto leaves the mall and sees the dawn, remarking on its beauty. The path takes him to a storehouse, which has a key he needs before he can explore any further. In the storehouse he finds the ghost of a little girl who wishes to play hide and seek. After Seto wins, she gives him the key and in return he gives her a paper crane which happened to be made by the ghost's mother. The ghost of the little girl's mother appears and takes the little girl away; they both disappear, reunited at last. Seto is disappointed at finding himself bereft of human company once more. After spending some more time in the mall, Seto finds more drawings, presumably made by Ren, and eventually finds a ladder leading outside the mall. Sadly, before Seto leaves, the PF depletes its battery and "dies." The PF thanks Seto for freeing it from the office and sharing time together, as it was also in need of companionship. Seto is grieved at finding himself utterly alone again. After burying the PF, keeping one of its screws as a memento, Seto reflects on his experience. The loss of his only friend results in the realisation that those living must continue to live while the dead have to be left behind.
A Chance Meeting in an Amusement Park
Upon reaching the surface, Seto finds himself in an abandoned amusement park. As he explores those ruins he encounters a mysterious figure. That figure is Crow, an odd boy who immediately begins to bully Seto. He demands that Seto provide his name and reason for being there. Seto answers that he is looking for other survivors. When he confirms that he is human Crow sneers at him and steals Seto's locket (originally given to him by his grandfather and holding important keepsakes). Seto gives chase to Crow throughout the amusement park before finally apprehending him. Although Seto recovers the locket, Crow takes a nasty fall in the process. Seto is sorrowful, believing that Crow has died. Crow berates Seto for crying although he apologises for his previous behaviour. Seto and Crow become best friends. Crow oddly celebrates this fact by giving Seto a kiss, causing considerable confusion on Seto's part, because Crow read somewhere that that's what friends do. Eventually, they go their separate ways; Crow directs Seto to the abandoned hotel as a place where there might be survivors.
In the hotel Seto finds a ghost who calls herself "Sai". Out of boredom, Sai becomes his companion. In the hotel is another ghost who asks that Seto bring her three items. Once Seto gives her a silver ring, she allows him admittance into her room where he finds her body. The ghostly girl predicts that Seto's journey will eventually end, but also delivers a depressing prophecy that he will ultimately be alone and the only positive memories he will have are those that he shared with others. Before Seto and Sai take their leave, Seto acquires another memento to remember the girl by. The ghost girl's disappearance prompts more existential introspection from Seto. He concludes that if people are going to interact with one another they must assume a position of trust, otherwise no relationship is possible. When asked by Sai what his plan is, he responds that he simply wants to find another person to be with, such as Ren, otherwise his life is without meaning.
Reacquainted At Last
Eventually, in a mysterious building, Seto finds Ren surrounded by cats. He introduces himself and they talk briefly before she is summoned away by an ominous voice announcing that "the glass cage is commencing." Sai is shocked by the announcement, as she recognises the man's voice as belonging to the scientist Shin, and the significance of those words. Upon hearing the voice Ren runs away again. Seto follows her towards an enormous dam. Also, the streetlights are on, indicating that for some reason the power is on. It seems that Seto might be closing in on some semblance of human life after all. Sen catches a glimpse of Ren past the dam, who implores him to help her. Along the way, he finds a room where the merchant appears to live. Seto catches a glimpse of the merchant without the chicken mask. He is not human but rather a robot. His story is also tragic: in the room is the crib of a dead child who he appears to be trying to reawaken with precious items. When he notices Seto's presence he flies in a rage and orders him to leave. In a passage at the bottom of the dam he runs into Crow, who reveals he too is a machine and also running out of battery. Seto loses his only friend once more. Although Sai questions his grief, as Crow isn't human, Seto insists on Crow being a living being and not just a machine.
Seto finds himself in a room with a radio and a monitor. Turning the radio on, he discovers that there are in fact survivors still alive throughout the world. On the computer monitor he sees a feed showing Ren imprisoned in some kind of tube, and the screen announces the commencing of the Glass Cage project. In the building, Seto finds news stories indicating the development of an AI that could potentially come into conflict with humans. Leaving the building, Seto meets Shin for the first time, who berates Sai for bringing a human and attacks him with a massive machine. After defeating the machine, Sai explains to Seto what is going on. She was involved with the first Glass Cage project, chosen as a test subject to catalyse the experiment.. Shin is planning to repeat that experiment, threatening to extinguish all human life on the planet. Sai herself was the "catalyst" for the first experiment. The experiment was meant to reawaken humanity's lost ability to communicate without words. Scientists thought this would end all misunderstanding and conflict, as what each person thought would be utterly transparent to everyone else. Unfortunately, the result of this experiment was disastrous: upon being exposed to the Glass Cage project most human beings went to sleep and never awoke, annihilating most of the human race in the process. Shin plans on using Ren as the second catalyst to "finish the job."
Seto follows Shin into a lab where they do battle. Shin explains his motives, claiming that the human race is "outdated" due to the imperfections of language. After defeating Shin, Seto saves Ren from the "glass cage". They chase Shin to Tokyo Tower for the climactic battle. Once he is defeated, Shin explains that he wanted to end the human race because he was originally the first test subject for the experiment. He was able to read people's thoughts and most of what he found was jealousy and hate. As a result, he resolved to end the human race. It turns out that when Sai was part of the experiment, she had feelings for Shin, which she never revealed. Shin realises that he was a fool and decides to the end the project by destroying the AI mainframe. Sai and Shin are reunited, as are Ren and Seto. The latter decide to travel together and search the world for more survivors.
Riei Saito is the composer for the game, and the two vocal tracks are performed by Aoi Teshima. Those who pre-ordered Fragile Dreams through Gamestop also received the "Moonlight Tracks" OST, comprised of 10 songs.
1. To All People
2. The Girl with Silver Hair
7. Melancholic Thoughts
9. Together with the Moon
10. Thank You
The full Japanese soundtrack (30 songs in total) can be acquired in some regions from the online Itunes store.
Fragile Dreams has met with a lukewarm-at-best response from reviewers, the average score being 66% on Gamerankings (33 reviews) and 67 on Metacritic (41). Worthplaying.com praised Fragile's art design and environments, claiming it "has almost everything going for it in terms of being an excellent RPG" (8/10). IGN was less impressed, finding it had a "spectacular concept" but required better mechanical execution to be a truly great game (6.7/10). Eurogamer was unimpressed with everything about Fragile Dreams except the ambience and to a lesser degree the story, but also said there is "something fragile and beautiful at the game's core" that might reward patient players (5/10). GameSpot found the game world compelling and the journey meaningful, but admits that unfortunately the game's execution failed to match the writing and design in qualiy (7/10). Some reviewers were so put off by the slow pace of Fragile that they gave up on completing it before writing a review (gamecritics.com, honestgamers).
After completing the game, the player can access the following from a special menu: the ability to rewatch every cutscene in the game, concept art, game trailers, and the credits.