Fragments of Him is a first-person narrative game from developer Sassybot. The story revolves around a tragic accident and the life of the victim and his loved ones before and after the incident. The player plays through the events and the locations as if they were the spirit or intellect of the characters, making decisions and starting actions that progress the story. Through these snapshots of their lives, we see that when a young man suddenly dies, left behind there will always be Fragments of Him.
There have been very few releases this generation which has really pulled me in and got me emotionally attached to the characters in the game, Fragments of Him has been added to that list. Fortunately, I’ve not had to go through the experiences you relive and watch within the game; however, it was so moving and powerful that I honestly felt like I was there, and as such, I was emotionally affected by what I saw throughout the time I played the game.
The story begins with Will, a young bisexual man who is contemplating asking his boyfriend to marry him. The game starts with a brief introduction, a little backstory, and with Will leaving the house. As we observe him on his way to work as he thinks about his life and how it’s no longer spontaneous and more of a process these days. We drive for a little while until tragedy strikes and Will’s life comes to an end.
Once this happens, we are taken back to the beginning of the day and, as a ‘second person’ or an ‘observer’ of sorts, we are given the chance to relive Will’s final moments with his boyfriend, his final thoughts and learn more about this young man, who we don’t get to spend much time with. As we get to know Will more, we begin to understand the narrative given at the beginning of the game and start to sympathise with him regarding his situation based on current and past events.
As an observer to Will, we find out about two other people whose lives he touched. First, we have his Grandmother, Mary, who is a very protective woman, yet stubborn and set in her ways. Through this section, we learn how hard it is for someone like her to accept certain things, yet in the end come to terms that some people don’t change, regardless of how people reacted to their circumstances. Next, we observe Sarah, Will’s Girlfriend in college. We experience the first time she saw Will right up until she has to make a very important life-changing decision. In this section, we have a few conversational choices, all of which were hard to choose, and this part in particular really hit home as I’ve been through similar situations in the past.
Finally, we watch over his boyfriend, Harry, and we see how he tries to cope after Will has passed away. This part was literally heart-breaking and it was hard to play in certain parts due to you having to do a few things I would never dream of! This was the most emotional part as you see just how much one person can change multiple people’s lives, whether you have known them their whole life or even if it has only been for a few years. Harry, Sarah and Mary must all come to terms with what has happened and it is portrayed perfectly within the narrative and the music.
The art style of Fragments of Him was spot on in my opinion – it was very minimalistic yet detailed at the same time, for example, the four main characters were detailed so you knew instantly that these were the main focus of the story, whilst other people were almost silhouettes to show that they weren’t necessarily part of the journey we are currently experiencing. The game does lack colour; however, I feel that fits in with the tone of the game as it is portraying a sad, mournful experience.
The voice acting within the game was probably the best I’ve heard in an indie title this year, all the actors sounded sincere and real like they had actually gone through these events personally and were telling us about them. I really can’t flaw them at all on the production quality of the voice acting or the music, which is also spot on – it’s very minimalistic but the music will play where it needs to and really adds to the atmosphere and helps to build up the emotions being played out on screen.
The gameplay is where I think this game will split people’s opinions. Personally, I thought the developers had chosen the correct mechanics for this style of experience. The main character at the time will appear as a fragment/memory and act out the scene until you have to interact again. Think of it as a ‘walking simulator’ crossed with a point and click game (that’s not a bad thing, just a little different).
I have a feeling this may be the marmite of the game though as other reviews have said it would work better as a video or audiobook than a game – I agree, those mediums would suit it well, but I really did enjoy playing it out. Plus having you constantly interacting with the game kept you engaged and attached to the experience.
Fragments of Him was an emotional journey which I’m glad I had the chance to experience. It’s not a long game so you can easily pick it up and have it finished (including its trophies) within two to three hours but for this kind of narrative experience, I don’t see that as a negative as personally, I’ve not felt this attached to a film with the same length for example. If you enjoyed games like Dear Esther, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture or enjoy story-focused experiences, then I would recommend this to you.
Be aware though, if you are sensitive then you may need a box of tissues as it does get very emotional as you dive into the last thoughts and actions of Will and the people he touched throughout his life.
Fragments of Him
- - Very emotional and well-written story
- - Really good voice acting
- - The music is really nice and emotional
- - The characters are really relatable and likeable
- - The game is a little short (about 2 hours)
- - It’s more of an interactive story than a game (but this may not be a con as it wasn’t to me)