If you were to sum up Fragile Dreams to a friend, you'd probably say it was something like a survival mission set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo wasteland.
A young boy, Seto, is left to pick his way through the deserted ruins looking for signs of life and some company. As you guide him through darkened shopping malls and abandoned railway stations you become increasingly aware that this is quite unlike any game you've played before, thanks to a strong sense of mood, a mix of fear and wonder at what might be around the next bend.
The feeling of being dumped on your own in a strange environment calls to mind the likes of Metroid and the more recent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and it's helped by a striking landscape and a sparse soundtrack, including some nerve-jangling Remote speaker interventions.
Some of the sights packed into the game are jaw-dropping in their beauty. The first time you emerge from a tunnel into a Tokyo sunrise is just lovely, and the game even gives you a few minutes to take it all in as you amble to your next objective.
Fragile Dreams is a slow-burning adventure with a hint of role playing. You track down survivors, find lots of keys, play games with ghost children and carefully explore your environment. You level-up automatically, with no points to assign, but it provides a sense of pleasing progress.
Less pleasing is the way you gain your experience points, because the combat is clumsy and at times infuriating. The problem is that there's no lock-on facility which, when you're holding a torch, makes for some wildly chaotic skirmishes.
Take the cackling disembodied legs, appearing as a gang and kicking you to the ground. When you encounter these you're generally locked in with them until you see them off which means trying to fix them with your torch beam while you hit them. Maddening doesn't come into it, especially when your weapon breaks mid-combat and you have to scrabble around for something else.
Unfortunately complaints don't end with the combat. Some of the set-pieces Seto is challenged to are painfully tedious. One had Seto crouching in a dank merry-go-round tea cup to try and trick spiteful survivor Crow into turning his back on him so he could be crept up on - yet every time he so much as twitched, Crow was onto him and ran away.
So because of this, Fragile Dreams is in danger of shooting itself in the foot. It's a game like no other in look and feel, but perhaps developer Tri Crescendo could have taken some cues from other games in a number of key areas so that players would want to play past the first couple of hours and experience its haunting journey, because it really is a journey worth making.
This is an edited version of a review that appears in issue 54 of Official Nintendo Magazine. To read the full version with more in-depth analysis, extra boxouts and screenshots, pick up issue 54 of Official Nintendo Magazine which is on sale now. You can buy it here.