Dealing with the death of a loved one is always difficult. Fragments of Him faces that issue head on and shows how it affects people when a loved one dies so suddenly. In this, the two hour game does extremely well. There is potential for it to be marred by the lack of interesting gameplay though. But at the end of the day the gameplay isn’t really the point. Fragments of Him tells a story that is both poignant and beautiful.
A Fly on the Wall
The game starts with you following the character Will who, after a series of mundane tasks , is killed in a car accident. After that you follow three other people, his homophobic grandmother, his ex-girlfriend, and his current boyfriend. As you progress through different segments involving these characters, it becomes obvious that this story is just as much about these characters as it is about Will. Will was a major part of their lives and you see how that unfolds as each of their tales are told.
There were a few times that I thought I might be able to change the outcome of the story but this game only has one story to tell and it’s inevitable how it turns out. All you can really do is be a fly on the wall and watch the story unfold. You can’t change the outcome.
All I can say is do not go into this game expecting things you might find in other games. No branching paths or anything of that sort. It has a story to tell and that’s the only focus.
Find the Highlighted Objects
The gameplay is where this Fragments falls a bit short. You don’t interact with the characters directly. Gameplay consists of finding objects that are highlighted and clicking on them to progress the story. It’s an extremely simple way to move the game forward. This way of playing can be a double edged sword though. I think how much you enjoy the game depends on your expectations going in.
As a gamer that has played many games that had interacting with just about everything in a virtual world and finding hidden secrets, Fragments of Him seems very barren. You literally are just trying to find the next object that is highlighted and clicking on it to advance the story. That’s pretty much it. There aren’t any hidden secrets and each area is pretty limited on where you can go.
Show, Don’t Tell
On the flip side of this is that it’s an interesting way to tell a story that is just a tiny bit interactive. This game doesn’t play like a typical game but it’s an interesting way to bring you into the story as well as a good way to develop the characters. Let me explain with an example.
There is a segment of the game that involves Will’s grandmother. In this segment she is setting up the dining room area for a Christmas dinner for the family that includes Will and his, at the time, girlfriend. Piece by piece you click on different objects that show an animation of the grandmother setting things up. You’ll set the table, hangs decoration, set up the tree, set dinner, etc. etc. This is all intermingled with hearing the grandmother’s side of the story and how Will has been a part of her life.
Through this segment you get a sense of the pride and excitement she has for the upcoming event with her family. Not only is the family coming over to celebrate the holidays, Will’s grandma is also excited to meet his girlfriend. The main reason being that she’s a girl and not a guy. She’s concerned about him being a little different from other boys. Will bringing his girlfriend with him is very reassuring for his grandmother. This is all conveyed through the segment as you click on objects in the room and you get to see and hear everything come together for the dinner.
Taking a Minimalistic Approach
Not only is the story and gameplay very stream lined, the graphics are also very minimal. There are not a lot of details and for the most part there isn’t much in the way of color either. The main characters have enough details to impart what they look like and you get a bit of emotion through their actions. Other people are not much more than a shadow or outline in the background.
It’s all just enough to convey the story (again, coming back to the focus of the game). Like a lot in this game, it’s all very minimalistic and I think that’s to put the focus on the story and the main characters. It’s a bit like when you’re telling a story. You aren’t going to explain every single detail unless it’s relevant to the story.
Does the Story Save The Game?
With such focus on the story, this game is more akin to a slightly interactive movie. In fact it may have done better in that format. The story is great and it takes a look at someone in the gay community in a refreshing and not in such a tragic way (at least not typically). But Fragments of Him is very short. It will only take about 2 hours to go through. As well written as the story is, it could have used a bit more. And calling the gameplay interactive is being generous.
With all that said, it is a good story and is touching. It’s just not going to be for everyone as a game. There are no secrets to find or different endings to get. It’s just a story that is interactive in a way that focuses on the story and the characters therein. A good story that may have been better in a different format. I don’t regret my time with the game however. In fact it’s stuck with me despite my griping about the gameplay. And that comes down to the well done writing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re interested in a good story this 2 hour game is a good one and well worth it. If you’re looking for more interactivity and gameplay, you may want to pass. The message of this game is very touching and bittersweet though. It might even be a message you can use in your own life. If you haven’t already. If that’s the case, then it’s very relatable.