Fragments of him is produced by Sassybot and sees you experiencing the events before, during and after the death of Will. This is a unique game that allows you to view Will’s life from different perspectives.
At the beginning of the game you have to make various choices which subtly shape the events that take place. This is an emotional game that’s thought provoking and poignant. Rarely does a game manage to create such an engaging and meaningful story, whilst having simple gameplay. Like I said, the story focuses on a man called Will, an English man living a normal life. What makes the game unique though is how we get to experience his life through three other characters, being his friend Harry, his grandmother Mary and his girlfriend Sarah. The game starts in what appears to be current day as we follow Will from his apartment and to his car. You get to hear Will’s thoughts, which are often deep and thoughtful reflections on his life and the world around him.
I don’t want to give too much away or reveal too many details about the story, but its safe to say that viewpoints change as certain events transpire. I had no idea what the game was about until I played it, but it’s fairly clear from the start that it’s a story with sadness and regret. Fragments of Him is mainly focused on delivering a meaningful narrative with gameplay being the simple but effective method of providing it. You move around various environments and scenes and listen to thoughts and moments of dialogue. You will come across many highlighted items and objects that are clickable and provide further story elements, trigger lines of dialogue or progress the scene forward. I was surprised at just how simple the gameplay was but that’s not a bad thing as the story is its main reason to play. If you have played games like Gone Home or That Dragon Cancer, you can pretty much know what to expect.
The gameplay almost feels like an exploration game as you search for clickable objects. The majority of the game is in past tense, and this become clear as perspectives and character viewpoints change. I personally enjoy taking a break sometimes from fast-paced, action heavy games to slower and more methodical experiences. Fragments of Him feels like an interactive storybook and it works incredibly well, despite some frustrating performance issues I will get into in a bit.
Like I said you get viewpoints from three other characters. The grandmother is an interesting person finds out that she raised Will who was in fact gay. I’m not giving anything away by saying Will is gay as that becomes very clear early on in the game and I just wanted to say how this shaped his relationships with the people around him. The next character is his ex-girlfriend Sarah. Sarah is what you would expect from a girlfriend in their younger years and you do start to see how things affect her as Will is clearly having mixed emotions. Then there’s Will’s boyfriend Harry, who plays a part in the game when things are reaching an emotional climax that I wont give too many details about. Harry is caring, thoughtful and this segment of the game really manages to give a good insight to Will’s life and how he impacted the people around him. These are the only main characters apart from Will’s mum and dad who do feature, but not to the extent of the other characters.
The gameplay is very simplistic like I mentioned before and at times I felt like I maybe would have preferred just sitting and watching the story. The interactions and gameplay you take part in during the game almost feel like it hinders the experience, unlike games like Gone Home, where exploration feels more rewarding and enjoyable. I can certainly see some players being put off by the minimal gameplay, but you should expect more of a story focused experience. Gone Home allows you to explore freely, in any order, progressing however you like, whereas Fragments of Him is much more linear and doesn’t really allow you to take your time or examine each area. This feels like a missed opportunity and whilst the characters do a good job of giving the story more depth, there could have been much more environmental storytelling and visual clues. The most interesting gameplay moments are the dialogue choices you have to make. We are seeing this in many games nowadays and its even starting to make its way into games like Uncharted 4. These moments where interesting but unfortunately they ultimately don’t really have any sort of impact on the events that take place and they don’t happen very often.
Fragments of Him is designed well with a nice minimalistic style and muted colour palette. It was important that the characters feel real and the developers have achieved this as the voice acting is great. A lot of the games dialogue is from thoughts and internal speech, giving meaningful and thoughtful segments of dialogue that give you an insight to how particular characters are feeling. The writing is also fantastic and helps to create an immersive experience that helps enhance the story. By the end of the game I really felt like I knew the characters and had some sort of emotional connection. It’s a simple story that anybody can relate to and it will make you think about your family and how you effect the loved ones around you. The graphics and visuals are extremely simple and some people may see it as poorly designed, but I think it was very much intentional and was integral to the design and tone of the narrative. The character models themselves don’t look that detailed, but the voice actors have done a great job of bringing them to life. I think the dull character models were designed intentionally that way to subtly point out that everybody in life is just a small pawn in a much larger, interconnected chess board of characters and each move can cause ripple effects in others life’s.
Unfortunately, I did experience some issues when playing this game on PC. Firstly, the frame rate tends to drop a lot during gameplay but more so during load screens. I don’t normally care too much about frame rates but it did get to the point where it became an annoyance. The game also crashed completely once during gameplay when I had the settings on max, despite having a pretty powerful PC rig. The only other issue I had and touched on briefly before is the gameplay, which at times feels obtrusive to the experience and becomes very repetitive. I would have much rather of had more dialogue choices and have been able to sit back and simply enjoy the story for what it is. Like Gone Home the game is only around 2 hours long, which is fine and I don’t have an issue with but I just wanted to point that out as it may influence your purchasing decision.
Fragments of Him is a thought-provoking game with minimal gameplay. The game is highly emotional and may upset some younger gamers as it covers some fairly serious and heartbreaking moments. The game lets you experience what its like to feel confused about your sexuality and happiness. Fragments of him is a unique game that’s not afraid of tackling some difficult subjects. The game does have its technical issues but the story and character perspectives make it an enjoyable experience, just don’t expect lots of gameplay or freedom to explore at your own pace. I would recommend this game if you like games such as Gone Home.
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