Dealing With Death: Fragments Of Him Out Now

Fragments of Him [official site] is a sobering “interactive narrative experience” that examines love, loss, and the fallout those left behind are forced to deal with in its wake. It explores the lives and innermost thoughts of three individuals loosely related to its recently departed central character, and in turn portrays a less whimsical (and possibly more relatable) slant on the It’s a Wonderful Life concept. It’s somber, but intriguing. It’s out now and has a trailer:

After a tragic accident claims the life protagonist Will, Fragments of Him tells its story from a second-person perspective via his ex-girlfriend Sarah, his boyfriend Harry and his grandmother Mary, as they each come to terms with their loss.

“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,” say developers Sassybot. “Follow the story of Will as you see how he influenced the lives of his grandmother Mary, his ex-girlfriend Sarah, and his boyfriend Harry. Through this snapshot of their lives we see that when a young man suddenly dies, left behind there will always be Fragments of Him.”

Between its mannequin-like depictions of characters, and eery piano-led soundtrack, Fragments of Him is suitably dark – a theme driven home by its powerful writing. I imagine most people who’ve lost someone at some stage in their lives will be able to draw parallels between their own experiences and its two hour-long narrative, even if the specifics differ. Once finished, I’d recommend checking out Allegra Frank’s Polygon piece that discusses the cathartic effects the game had on her own encounters. It’s a heartfelt and interesting read.

Fragments of Him is out now on Steam and the Humble Store for the discounted launch price of £13.49/17,99€/$17.99.

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  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I’m astonished the developers think this sort of thing will take off. Much the same as That Dragon, Cancer, who I also believe were mystified as to why their game wasn’t more popular.

    Personally, I’ve seen enough of death in my family over the last few years that absolutely the last thing I would want to do is to delve any deeper in to it. Thought provoking? No thanks.

    • Nucas says:

      the makers of that dragon cancer were actually surprised their game was unsuccessful? it was their personal coping mechanism, they made it for their own catharsis. that’s a shocking lack of self-awareness if true.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Yes, they were very surprised and blamed let’s plays for it, complaining that more people watched the game than bought it.

        Of course one of the major criticisms of the game was that the interactive stuff just wasn’t any good so it’s better when watched instead of played (I recall some criticisms that it’d be better at 1.5 hours length instead of the 2 it ended up at) and a lot of people were scared away because they simply don’t want more grief in their lives.

    • Geebs says:

      It depends a lot on the cultural context – the “interactive narrative” genre has a lot of the characteristics of melodrama, to my mind, and that particular art form has gone through a lot of swings in popularity and critical reception. It’s odd that melodrama is currently pretty unpopular with critics while games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture are very much the in thing, but I reckon that novelty counts for a lot.

  2. w0bbl3r says:

    Seriously? I mean I’m not a homophobe by any stretch of the imagination, but they had to follow gone home and play the gay card, right?

    Have to tick as many of those political correctness boxes as possible in a “narrative” game, right?

    I like some of these games, I loved the recent everybody’s gone to the rapture game from the chinese room.
    But I couldn’t get behind gone home once I realised it was just a terribly told story of a girl who suddenly decided to be gay because her idol was gay and she needed to be like her.
    I couldn’t get behind that dragon cancer purely because it felt to me as if they were making money from the death of their son this way, and it just didn’t feel right to me. Perhaps if they had said the money was going for their medical expenses (since they were, I believe, from the USA, where it can cost a fortune to pay for this stuff), or that they were donating a good percentage of profits to the hospital, or cancer charity or something.

    This I feel is just another game that tries to tick every box to be “modern” in terms of story content.
    I live in a small town in the UK, with about 2-3,000 people. There are maybe 5 gay people at most. Maybe. It’s a tiny minority, being gay, no matter where you live.
    So surely to resonate with people you have to make the characters feel like someone you know and love yourself, right? To make that fit with the majority of your players, they would have to be straight men, because that’s mostly who plays videogames.
    How many straight white guys can relate to a gay couple and one of them dying?
    Almost none.
    But hey, it’s politically correct, right?

    • DrGonzo says:

      You can’t relate to other human beings because they aren’t the same sexuality as you?

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      Lars Westergren says:

      Cool, you even did the “I’m not a racist BUT” phrasing.

      The exact number of gay people in your town is 1876, they just haven’t told you.

      “How many straight white guys can relate to a gay couple and one of them dying? Almost none.”

      Anyone with empathy I should hope. I have a higher opinion of most straight white guys than you seem to have.

      “But hey, it’s politically correct, right?”

      It’s the future, young man with the soul of a miserable old bigot. Get used to it.

    • Jakkar says:

      I’m always surprised to learn people like you exist. I can’t tell whether I’m protecting myself by forgetting, or just irrepressably optimistic/stupid.

      So many words just to express that you’re a xenophobic, awkward person who wants the different people to go away.

    • Kinsky says:

      Damn there’s a lot of overreacting going on in this thread. Beating him down with the bigot label just because he made some off-color generalizations is fucking shameful. All three of you are guilty of much more hurtful generalizations about his moral character. In regard to his point, what he’s pointing to isn’t necessarily personal prejudice (although that may play a role), but an undeniable trend in modern entertainment.

      I can’t speak at all for this game, as I know nothing about it, but Gone Home is a perfect example. What makes that game so boorish isn’t that it discusses a homosexual relationship, it’s that it exploits one. It’s caked in the pretense of telling a meaningful story, but has very little to say. Instead, it invokes homophobia as a shortcut, encouraging the player (viewer?) to inject their own cultural and emotional baggage into the game in place of actual substantive writing.

      The fact is, it’s trendy to feature token non-male and/or non-white and/or non-straight characters in entertainment now, not because there’s an interesting story to tell (e.g. Magic Mike, Dallas Buyers Club, La Cage au Folle), but simply to pander while everyone involved establishes themselves as Progressive Good Guys (e.g. J.J. Abrams saying he selected Boyega and Ridley not simply because of their qualifications or whether they fit the role, but because he wanted to diversify the Oscars). It’s demeaning to the groups these characters ostensibly represent and horribly disingenuous besides; furthermore, the accusation of bigotry is an equally disingenuous way to silence critics, and one that can inflict grievous social harm in the current political climate despite the flippancy with which it’s often used, especially on this site.

      Knee-jerk sectionalism does nobody any favors. It simply makes the problem worse. If you want to promote equality, practice equal treatment. Don’t give anyone a free pass for invoking a half-assed pretense of progressivism, and don’t treat people like villains for having certain opinions you disagree with. In any case, prejudice is most often a result of simple ignorance, not poor moral character.

      • GWOP says:

        “If you want to promote equality, practice equal treatment. Don’t give anyone a free pass for invoking a half-assed pretense of progressivism…”

        So, you want them to promote equality, but when they decide to have a point of perspective not usually explored, they are automatically under suspicion of being disingenuous by default…

        Some equality you are practicing there.

        • Kinsky says:

          That’s a fair point, and really it comes down to subjective judgment of artistic intent. But you can’t deny that the modern entertainment industry has numerous examples of exploiting gender or sexuality politics merely for the sake of profit. After a certain point, skepticism and cynicism come into play.

          • KDR_11k says:

            Eh, “for profit” seems unlikely, anything run through a big marketing department ends up with a standardized white male and I doubt that’s because they just don’t want the “diversity money”, they know that diversity doesn’t sell.

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            cpt_freakout says:

            Yeah man, these guys, just like Gone Home’s devs, must be rolling in dirty George Soros liberal cash because they’re pandering. Thankfully guys like you and the other one know the truth, and are here to talk down to all of us brainwashed reds to make us realize we’re insensitive assholes because making a protagonist bisexual smells of the unclean money of the lowest common denominator. Who you adore, of course, because you’re not terrible people, oh no.

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        kfix says:

        Getting upset at the existence of people (and their chosen forms of expression) who are different from you is pretty much the definition of bigotry, so it’s apt enough in this case. And it’s not a generalisation about moral character.

        • Kinsky says:

          That’s true. However, at no point in his post did he say he dislikes gay people, or is in any way disturbed by their existence. He’s accusing the developers of pandering, which has nothing to do with his opinion on homosexuality – the people responding are just assuming it’s a direct result.

          Bigotry is a direct accusation of poor moral character. It’s defined by intolerance, and implies willful ignorance. But apart from that, let’s examine those replies specifically:

          “You can’t relate to other human beings because they aren’t the same sexuality as you?”
          Implication: You are lacking in empathy. Indictment of moral character.

          “It’s the future, young man with the soul of a miserable old bigot. Get used to it.”
          Implication: You are cold and willfully ignorant. Indictment of moral character.

          “So many words just to express that you’re a xenophobic, awkward person who wants the different people to go away.”
          Implication: You are trying to justify an unjustifiable sentiment. Indictment of moral character.

          These people are all jumping to hurtful conclusions and directly attacking his moral character rather than addressing his point. So no, their labeling is not apt.

          • Jakkar says:

            His feelings were quite strongly implied, it was the feelings I think we each reacted to – things we inferred from his words, rather than things we can explicitly quote. We’re in a comments thread rather than a court, so I think we’ve that freedom.

            Had it only been one thing, it would certainly be an overreaction, but almost every paragraph of his post rang the alarm bells for ‘local BNP/UKIP candidate’ – someone striving to make their xenophobic, old-fashioned, privileged cruelty and selfishness sound politically acceptable, and failing.

          • TheLetterM says:

            This conversation is going to go in circles all day, due to the imprecision of language. Who knows if the OP is a bigot? I doubt anyone in this thread unless they happen to know the OP in real life, and maybe not even then. The real issue is that sentiments expressed (“I’m not a homophobe, BUT”, “ticking off political correctness”, not wanting stories about anyone but the majority) smack off bigotry.

            I mean, that last point isn’t even veiled bigotry. It’s just straight up ridiculous to say that since the majority of gamers are straight and men, that the only way to have emotional resonance is to only tell their stories.

            So yes, it doesn’t help that everyone is dogpiling on or declaring the OP is a terrible person, but it doesn’t change the original ideas expressed from being gross and toxic.

      • Beefenstein says:

        “The fact is, it’s trendy to feature token non-male and/or non-white and/or non-straight characters in entertainment now, not because there’s an interesting story to tell…”

        It has been trendy to feature entirely the opposite for a long time. It was just as meaningless. Equality can be in meaningless things too.

        Your definition of homophobic bullying as ‘a shortcut’ is interesting. Do you think that, in the real world, bullying is particular meaningful and with intended consequences? Do you think it is philosophically weighed, considered, valued and thought out?

        And what about when narratives use death as a convenient shortcut, pandering to emotional connection with something as rare and inconsequential as the end of a life?

        It’s almost like most people don’t know what they’re talking about! I could kill ten of them right now and they’d just forget all about it? Why does anyone care! My life is pointless and I have no function in society! I’m just sitting here typing because if I didn’t I’d realise how unwanted I was!

    • GWOP says:

      “How many straight white guys can relate to a gay couple and one of them dying?”

      Ever heard of empathy?

    • Nick says:

      how exactly is it you purport to know how many of those 2000-3000 people are gay? Backing up your arguments with silly, baseless stats only works 23.78% of the time.

    • Nucas says:

      serious question: can you name any piece of media that had a gay main character that you didn’t think was “PC run amok”, “liberal pandering”, and so on? if so, what was it?

      if you react this way to every piece of media with a gay person in it that really just says that you only want games with white men who get the girl, you’re just not being honest with yourself about the reason.

    • dethtoll says:

      I came here hoping for someone like you. I’ve had a lovely day with my mother and I haven’t gotten my superiority quota in.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Its more playing to the audience imo. Add those things into a game and sites like this one WILL dive all over it and give you free publicity, push your game, not allow much bad to be said at it (because apparently criticising a game like this instantly makes you a misogynist, neck beard man child who’s against diversity in any way). Its smart marketing really, the audience for these games very much seems to be the diversity and political correctness crowd and those people will defend any game that plays to that, regardless if its crap or not.

      • GWOP says:

        Go back and read RPS’ WIT for The Dragon, Cancer. They don’t let the subject matter get in the way of their criticism. It’s those who are making assumptions about a game’s (and its author’s) intent based solely on the subject matter who need a reality check.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          That Dragon, Cancer didn’t bring up any kind of diversity issues, so does not count as a very good example at all. I’ve seen time and time again websites, Kotaku and Polygon being the worst, refusing to give any criticism of a game.
          Do you honestly think those sites give Gone Home GOTY awards if the main character wasn’t a lesbian? It fits the agenda that they’ve proven time and time again they will do anything to push.
          Now you are right that the debts might not have done it on purpose just to shoehorn diversity in, it would be a smart move if they did though when making a narrative game.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:


          • GWOP says:

            Or maybe, just maybe, Gone Home got GOTY awards because people genuinely enjoyed it? It’s an explorative point-and-click adventure game at heart with lots of environmental details, unlike many other sterile walk-em-ups. Years before Gone Home came out, Jim Rossignol was already writing about wanting single location games crammed full of details.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            You walk around a house for 90 minutes and then the game ends, don’t give me that cheap that it was a better game than some of the other stuff released that year, games with actual game play mechanics.
            My point still stands, disagree if you want, but there’s no way that thing wins GOTY awards of it didn’t fit the “progressive” and “diverse” agendas that certain websites seem to value above everything else.

            Strange that the sites who found it the very best game of the year are the ones pushing these social narratives the hardest, where as other websites didn’t. Coincidence? Probably not to be honest.

          • Beefenstein says:

            “Do you honestly think those sites give Gone Home GOTY awards if the main character wasn’t a lesbian? It fits the agenda that they’ve proven time and time again they will do anything to push.”

            I honestly think I’d like you more if you were a lesbian. Please try it. I might even give you a GOTY award.

    • Geebs says:

      You’re way off the mark there. Gone Home is hard to relate to because the main story character is a fairly superficial and vapid teenager with truly wretched taste in music. From my point of view, that’s a stereotype that rings fairly true, despite the fact that I didn’t get those sort of people even when I was young.

      I reckon it’s still possible to get value out of this sort of work, though, by examining your own reaction to the character. I didn’t think much of her ludicrously puppy-dog attitude to “fame” – the idea that forming a terrible band is totally amazing just because it makes people pay attention to you is pretty revolting – but that’s more than the level of introspection I get out of the majority of entertainment.

      The addition of physics which permitted disposal of all of the wretched, wretched mixtapes in creative ways was a pretty neat mechanic, too.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      I can kind of, *kind of* see your point. From what I can see, what you’re getting at is that the devs are going for the “oh look, he’s gay, how vogue” effect, which if true would be tacky.

      But two things which make me respectfully disagree with you are such:

      1) What if one of the developers was gay? It makes sense that a gay designer writes from what he knows, in order to be able to put a relatable story forward.

      2) It actually doesn’t matter a shit if he’s gay or not. The story is about a guy who dies. He is also gay. What’s the problem? If he was a guy who died, who was also a big fan of sports, it wouldn’t make the story less relevant. The gay thing is entirely tertiary.

      3) Other commenters here make a good point: why does it bother you that he’s gay? Why can’t you relate to a story of death and/or suffering just because he’s a whoopsie? If you cut us, do we not fucking bleed?

      You come across as though you have prejudice at play here. That may not be your intent, but the inference in your comment is that it’s not possible for you to relate to matters unrelated to sexuality, just because you’re gay and he isn’t. That, in my opinion, is madness. I may very well not like it up the bum, but I can for sure relate with the idea of pain. Just not bum pain.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “Seriously? I mean I’m not a homophobe by any stretch of the imagination, but they had to follow gone home and play the gay card, right?”

      Seriously, I don’t hate myself as a white straight able male by any stretch of the imagination, but they had to pander to trendy mundane common values and features characters and worlds suited entirely to my own little privileged bubble? It’s political ignorance gone wrong.

    • chris1479 says:

      Uh oh. Oh boy. The RPS liberal fascists will be out in force to inform you of how incredibly evil and wicked you are for saying such a thing. Good luck.

  3. KDR_11k says:

    This got slammed pretty badly by Laura K on the Jimquisition podcast, apparently it falls apart into ham-fisted and repetitive writing just past where the first demo they gave ended (after the titular “him” dies).

  4. rubmon says:

    We need games that provoke less thought, not more.
    Also the gay issue doesn’t seem to add anything to the point of the game, really.

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      Aitrus says:

      Does everything need to be your desired default of straight & white unless it serves a specific purpose?

      • Kinsky says:

        Given that non-straight and non-white are often invoked for free cred, it’s reasonable to suspect the game of such unless a justification is provided, especially in the genre that most often lends itself to trite nonsense. Also, he didn’t say anything about race, stop jumping to conclusions.

        • GWOP says:

          Do you ever accuse games with straight white protagonists of pandering to the lowest common denominator? Just checking if you practice the equality you preach.

          Also, Rubmon might not have said anything about race, but you certainly defended him reflexively on that (“non-white are often invoked for free cred”). How presumptuous of you…

          • Kinsky says:

            Am I on trial for bigotry now? Do I need to trot out unverifiable anecdotes or specific examples of opinions I’ve had to reassure you I’m not X-ist so you’ll give my argument a fair judgment?

            In regard to the “non-white” comment, I was addressing the accusation itself, which invoked race.

        • Beefenstein says:

          I think that’s what’s invoked for ‘free cred’ is “I’m tired of this liberal pandering!” In this case it worked. To receive your free creds please send a SAE to Chump Towers, Chumpville, Fuckbutton Alley.

      • Nick says:

        you should really assume less when trying to take some sort of high ground.

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          Aitrus says:

          Yeah, I assumed race, that was my bad. I still don’t believe there needs to be some sort of justification just for including characters that are minorities.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I agree that there need not be justification. The other side of the coin, is I dispise that it seems to be a trend of games including these issues in order to create a wall to hide behind, deflecting and minimising any legitimate criticism as people will fly off the handle and accuse people of bigotry of they didn’t like it, “you only hated it because you are obviously homophobic” etc etc.

          • KDR_11k says:

            Considering the big discussions here are attached to posts questioning why gays are involved and not to the post citing actual complaints about the game I don’t think it’s a deflection to criticism, it just brings people out who hate on the game for no actual quality reasons and just object to the minorities within.

        • dethtoll says:

          It’s not an unfair assumption to make when dealing with people like this, though. Especially in light of the comment further up.

    • GWOP says:

      “Also the gay issue doesn’t seem to add anything to the point of the game, really.”

      It doesn’t detract from the point either, so why bring it up at all?

    • dethtoll says:

      the gay issue doesn’t seem to add anything to the point of the game

      Gee, it’s almost as if gays are ordinary people.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        Ordinary?! Don’t be stupid, they put their bits in each other’s bums!! I and at least one person I know isn’t like that, so it can’t be normal!!!

    • Beefenstein says:

      Thanks for giving us comments which provoke and, indeed, contain absolutely no thought whatsoever.

  5. Jakkar says:

    This has been a horrible comment thread :<

    • dethtoll says:

      I know, isn’t it great? Makes my life so much easier when people lay out on the table why I shouldn’t take them seriously as rational human adults.

    • GWOP says:

      Yep. The amount of complaints about “liberal pandering” and “pushing agendas” and “PC run amok” makes me think I’m back at the post-2014 Escapist forums.


    • Beefenstein says:

      On the positive side people like this mean that if the end of the human race comes during my lifetime I will be at least slightly glad of it.

  6. Buggery says:

    Call me crazy (“Hello, crazy”) but I’d like to see more narrative focused games that don’t go for the dark and brooding.

    Shakespeare wrote a lot of dramas and comedies, you dig? No comment on the themes of the game in the article but sometimes I wish we could try to push the concept of art in gaming to a more positive space every once in a while.