By Apathylad 2 Comments
Alright, I sorta finished Fragile Dreams. By 'sorta', I mean I got to the last boss, died several times, got fed up with the game's combat, and decided it would be better to just watch the ending on YouTube. I liked the game's premise, but the mechanics are so clunky it's hard for me to feel anything other than frustration during the more tearful scenes in the game. If Fragile Dreams were anything other than a video game, I would have a much easier time recommending it.
Usually, I'm able to look past a game's shortcomings if I find the story engaging. Killer 7 and Alice: Madness Returns have great imagery, although they can get monotonous. There are repetitive aspects to a lot of games, but Fragile Dreams is so poorly executed, it's hard for me to think about anything besides how it plays. You have limited inventory space, and your weapons break if overused. This would be like if you had go to a save spot in Resident Evil to get a new gun after reloading your pistol a few times. When you have that, coupled with really imprecise third-person combat, I would go out of my way to AVOID fights, when maybe I should have considered leveling up a bit. Seto's attacks are pretty stiff, and you can't cancel out of attack animations, meaning you're left wide open to enemies. There's no block or dodge mechanic, and Seto moves way too slowly if you're moving in the opposite direction that your Wii Remote is facing.
What else is terrible about Fragile Dreams? It may have a great atmosphere, but it doesn't know what to do with itself. In one section of the game, a character has you traverse older areas in order to fetch an item for her. She does this not once, not twice, but three times before letting you progress in the story (although to be fair, you fight a boss in the third time, but hey, it's not like the game's combat makes boss fights exciting). There's a lot of emptiness in certain areas of the game as well. You'll spend a few minutes walking through long corridors and occasionally climbing long ladders where nothing of interest happens.
Getting back to the Alice: Madness Returns comparison, I set both Alice and Fragile Dreams aside for a lengthy period, before finally resuming my save and finishing them. Madness Returns' platforming and combat would drag, mostly because the levels went on for too long, but it at least had competent fighting and platforming. Fragile Dreams has some interesting themes, and the sense of isolation works well with its narrative about loneliness, but all the surrounding material make it hard to acknowledge the more abstract, emotional elements you might feel while playing the game.
I know some people that really like Fragile Dreams, but I have a hard time admiring what it's trying to do when everything else feels like such a chore. I read Jim Sterling's review yesterday, and I more or less agree with it, although maybe I would have scored it a bit lower than a 6.0.