Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon isn’t actually a horror game. This somewhat obscure action-adventure RPG was released for the Wii in 2010 (it came out first in Japan in 2009) to a mixed reception.
Despite its genre, and a story that eventually takes on definite science fiction elements, I have yet to find a game with an atmosphere that better fits the description of “Silent Hill for kids.”
You play as Seto, a teenage boy searching for other survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. (You don’t learn much about the apocalypse until the end of the game.) The environments are eerie and haunting, filled with a deep loneliness that mixes with fear as you encounter ghostly enemies. You’ll level up as you fight, but the clunky combat ensures you never feel quite safe enough, as it’s difficult to aim at and hit enemies.
Weapons break through repeated use, the Wiimote is used to control your flashlight, and limited space in your inventory means you have to choose your items carefully. Campfires are scattered through the world, where you can manage your inventory, save, buy stuff from the (really weird) merchant, and look at mementos.
Mementos add an intriguing bit of storytelling to Fragile Dreams. Each one contains a fragment of a person’s story, some of which are connected. By providing little bits and pieces to flesh out the world, it told its story in a style very reminiscent of survival horror.
The game does have its flaws. Some people may find the combat more frustrating than challenging, and the enemies are repetitive. If you like ambiguity in your stories, you’ll love this. If you don’t, you’ll probably be grinding your teeth by the end. Fragile Dreams’s ending (no spoilers, don’t worry) answers some questions and raises others.
The more I think about it, the more I feel its story also demands a comparison to the Professor Layton series, although much darker and lonelier, and without puzzles.
Ultimately, it’s a story about relationships and emotion, set across a series of beautiful environments as you search for the mysterious silver-haired girl you caught a glimpse of. It’s a short game, lasting around 15 hours, slightly longer or shorter depending on your gameplay style.
It’s not for everyone, and this isn’t your place to turn if you want something terrifying or action-packed. But if you’re interested in a slow-paced game with a strange and haunting story, an RPG with light survival horror trappings, or a creepy game to play for Halloween that isn’t actually horror, you should really check out Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.
Also, it has beautiful music.
And cat toys, so you can play with cats wandering through post-apocalyptic Tokyo.
Have you played Fragile Dreams? I know there are some of you out there. Let me know your own thoughts and impressions of this obscure little game.
If you want posts like this delivered straight to your inbox, enter your email in the box below to subscribe!