Figment opens with a dark screen that implies you are driving in which you deduce a car crash has occurred, there is a child screaming and we are whisked away to a surreal land. We play as Dusty, a rather depressing hero who is relaxing on his porch wistfully perusing his scrapbook when Piper turns up – Piper is the opposite of Dusty, she has boundless energy and is here to convince Dusty that he is needed.
You see, this surreal land is a mind and Dusty is its personification of courage, needless to say, he has not been needed for a while. Nightmares haven’t taken a hold and our heroes begin a quest in this puzzle adventure to explore the corners of a human mind and defeat its nightmares.
The tale plays on words found in its songs, we are in the middle of an ironic and hilarious musical with the nightmares breaking into gruesome songs making light of plague, diarrhoea and a plethora of maladies surrounded by physical manifestations of puns and witty interpretations of a mind.
The story is light-hearted and yet it is quite touching from beginning to end just beneath the surface.
Figment is a 2.5D Isometric puzzle game with some adventuring sprinkled in. We control Dusty with our left Joystick and two buttons – attack and roll, we can also charge our attack for a Zelda-esque swing of our trusty wooden sword.
After being confronted by a creepy multi-limbed nightmare who steals your scrapbook you set off to recover it, combat is a simple affair and breaks up the main gameplay element which is its puzzles. The game is played out across sections of the brain and in order to succeed you will need to form some creative tasks that revolve around manipulating synapses in order to get parts of the brain firing correctly.
Later on, as terror sets in you are bombarded by waves of despair and the puzzles switch to surviving and making your way further by moving boxes and protecting yourself, these sections get harder and in general the game ramps up at a nice pace. My favourite puzzle involves a set of gears in the analytical half of the brain, after crossing various screens to get together these cogs, you will need to put them together in order to power a huge noise machine in order to stimulate your sense of hearing, it was challenging but completely achievable striking that balance well.
Some of the harder puzzles lead to optional memories, these memories give us an insight into the person whose mind we are in, these can be quite touching as we see the life lived and drives you to succeed at ridding the mind of its nightmares, Dusty shows that he has what it takes to accomplish such daunting task to become the hero we know he can be.
The gameplay is directly linked with the visuals and audio and its this storytelling, creative side that drives the game forward – when you do come to battles they tend to be quite simple and bosses are pattern based affairs which offer some difficulty but nothing too heavy.
I find myself saying something like this game is perfect for the Nintendo Switch or something similar very often and expected to say the same again here. Interestingly I didn’t particularly like this game on the move, its a short enough experience at 7 hours that I wanted to enjoy it on a TV screen with the audio up and the visuals in all of their glory.
That said the game performs just fine on the move, no issues on that front.
Figment was created with audio in mind, much of the world is based on plays on words and funny lyrics with interesting results. We are treated to a bunch of songs throughout the game across a large number of genres, each tied to the mood of what is going on in the game at that time.
Stöj Snak, Danish songwriter produced 27 tracks for this game – an extensive collection for what is not a particularly long game. These tracks and sound effects recreate very well the sounds and thoughts we have in the recesses of our minds, from our deepest nightmares through to the small ticking of our analytical brain every mood and memory is recreated here.
Visuals & Performance
Every scene is hand drawn in a style that reminds me of a well-illustrated children’s book which fits perfectly with the games theme of exploring our subconscious brain. Later on as we head towards the end of the game and the conscious part of our brain we can see there is no longer creative and vibrantly imaginative sections, instead our adult mind is filled with spreadsheets and to do lists – a reminder that we don’t make enough time to dream and live to our fullest in the real world.
There are a lot of artistic influences here meshed together ranging from Salvador Dali through to mediums such as the Adventure Time series and videos by Miyazaki, no one influence completely takes over which leaves the game in a good spot retaining its own personality.
Performance wise there are sadly some issues, often times, when moving around and interacting the visuals, will slow down slightly but enough to be noticeable. I didn’t find this hampered my gameplay but I did experience it enough that it was quite frequent. Aside from this, we do also experience some general bugs, none of these is game breaking but things, like being trapped on a lift and having to jump to move or juddering on a platform, are not welcome additions.
At $15.99 in the US the game certainly represents better value than in the UK where it is £14.39 so I would recommend picking it up in the US eShop. The adventure lasts about 7 hours and it is a thrilling ride with high production values, the soundtrack and voice acting combined with beautiful hand-drawn visuals are pleasing but you won’t find any reason to replay here.
Thought provoking and creative
Quite a short experience
Some bugs and performance problems