Impressions: Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)

After over a year of waiting, XSEED has graciously picked up tri-Crescendo's meditative Wii action adventure Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon for North American publication. In a brief walkthrough of an early segment of the game, XSEED introduced us to the protagonist, Seto, who is believed to be the only human left in the world after some unspecified calamity has reduced everything to rubble and left the sky permanently darkened.
Equipped only with a flashlight (controlled by the Wiimote's pointer) and, in the beginning, a tree branch, Seto explores a still, quiet cityscape, toward a still-powered Tokyo Tower. In our demo, we explored an old amusement park. A few items on the ground were highlighted by fireflies circling their location. tri-Crescendo has compensated for the Wii's graphical shortcomings with clever artistic techniques: the Seto character model uses little shadowing and simple colors, for a sort of cel-shaded effect, while the world uses a dark, but intense, color scheme that both helps to cover any jaggies and impresses

After a minute or so of wandering and flashlight ... pointing, Seto happens upon an old fountain, upon which is perched ... a ghost. The world isn't quite as empty as we thought it was in Fragile -- it's occupied by ghosts, the first of which was an impish child intent upon messing with Seto. The ghost taunted him briefly about being human, clearly enjoying the company of Seto -- who was basically shaking in fright -- and then made off with the necklace off of Seto's neck.

Immediately afterward, we saw the first encounter with one of the world's other inhabitants: animals who have mutated after time and the influence of whatever caused the calamity. In this case, it was what looked like a giant dog. Seto was able to dispatch it fairly easily with the stick. It is worth noting that it was a really big dog, and in such a quiet game, it doesn't really take much to give the player a scare. This isn't a horror game, but we could imagine the appearance of such creatures to be pretty creepy.

From what we saw, then, Fragile appeared to be at heart a fairly standard 3D action RPG, like Kingdom Hearts, at least in terms of combat -- you fight, in real time, small groups (in the encounter we saw, just one) of monsters that appear randomly. However, the rest of the game is more adventure-like: rather than going from fetch quest to fetch quest, the goal is to explore the scenery with the flashlight and learn more about the world and what happened to it. The serene, melancholy setting and haunting graphics are appealing enough to transcend the mechanics of combat. We want to explore this dark, quiet Tokyo.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.