By Alex Irish / July 20th, 2018
|Developer||Bedtime Digital Games|
|Publisher||Bedtime Digital Games|
|Release Date||June 28th, 2018|
|Platform||PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch|
The human mind, an abstract and infinitely complex organ, is perfectly ripe for creative interpretation, from Inside Out to Don Quixote. So too is it the playground setting of the adventure game Figment, from the minds (pardon the pun) of Bedtime Digital Games. Imagine Broken Age meets Bastion with the flair of Dr. Seuss creations like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. It was quietly released recently, but it’d be a shame to miss out, for there’s more to it than meets the mind’s eye.
Figment starts off simple and grows quickly in scope and ambition. After a dark and stormy opening implying a young boy lost his parents in a car crash, you enter the machinations of his mind and meet the protagonists Dusty and Piper, the cynical, bitter center of the mind’s courage and his trusty, optimistic avian tag-a-long, respectively. The two leave a quiet life to go after the deadly and threatening nightmare creatures that infect the child’s mind and reach the subconscious source of his trauma. While nothing revolutionary in the indie space, the modest story gets the job done.
Together, Dusty and Piper create an entertaining dynamic and character chemistry (with some surprisingly mature dialogue exchanges in the bargain). Even the villains of the piece are surprisingly fun with entertaining dialog and personalities of their own (one nightmare is a French-leaning spider). The child’s mind they explore over the next six hours or so looks not-so-obviously like a biological brain as much as a fantasy landscape of floating islands, stretching across realms that reflect how the real-world brain works (logic, creativity, subconscious).
Figment boasts a charming presentation that largely hits all the right notes. The art is whimsical and wondrous, echoing the “anything can happen” imagination of a children’s book. Motifs of musical instruments and nature define the creative side of the brain, while cogs, camshafts and other mechanical marvels define the logical half. Much as earlier action-adventure indie titans like Bastion did, Figment is fully voice-acted, with the performances largely giving much energy and character to the colorful cast (with only some performances feeling weakly acted). Dialogue is as colorful as the character acting, laden with rhymes and puns to keep the mood light. Points given to Bedtime Digital as they included several vocal songs, an unexpected inclusion that adds to the storytelling.
Gameplay in Figment keeps things relatively simple, dividing time between combat and puzzle scenarios. Environments range in size and scope, large and small, to accommodate them. The act of fighting with Dusty’s trusty sword itself is easy (hacking around plus a charging spin attack). Enemy variety is adequate to keep those brief scuffles on your toes. Foes range from giant stalks with hit-point eyeballs to spiders who can regenerate their health if you stall too long. Larger scale boss battles punctuate each major area as a culmination of the challenges before, and they too can be ridiculously easy or stupidly hard.
As with combat, Figment has a small but fair variety of environmental puzzles that break up your journey. Not only do you have direct interaction with the environment, you’ll collect various items for your inventory to switch around power sources, twist and bend roadways, and so forth. Some of the solutions are brain-dead easy while some are difficult, but never game-stoppingly so. They range from manipulating color-coded synapse batteries to power bridges to the age-old gaming trope of block pushing.
One puzzle in particular will likely stump anyone who’s not a musician, revolving around lowering and raising three instruments to awaken a tree with a giant ear (don’t ask). Given Dusty’s general feel and controls, the box-pushing puzzles are easily the most sluggish to get through. Figment‘s general progression is rather linear, and occasionally you’ll have to backtrack slightly to solve a more elaborate puzzle, but you’ll never have to leave the area to do so. And for those who go off the path, hidden Memory Orbs can be collected to further contextualize the life story of the mind you’re inhabiting.
As reviewed on Nintendo Switch, Figment fits well on the platform. The whimsical art style holds up, not only blending in with the Nindie oeuvre, but also technically in docked and portable mode. The use of HD Rumble is well done, and the system’s seldom-used video recording feature is surprisingly included out of the box. The only real negative on Switch are the load times in-between large areas, for they are longer than would be liked. The action runs smoothly 90 percent of the time, too, with only slight dips during the Switch loading times being a negative.
Figment is the purest definition of “sleeper hit”. It was quietly announced for Switch a year ago and made its way out on all platforms last month, launching in a sea of quality goodness that has become the Switch’s weekly shtick. While Figment is short but sweet, the only bring-downs on offer are its lengthy load times, sometimes interminable puzzles, and a $20 price point that might be a touch too much for the run time. If you’re interested in taking a solid adventure with likable characters and a colorful style, Figment is a good fit for your action adventure indie needs.
Review code provided by developer
Bedtime Digital GamesFigmentnintendo switchPlayStation 4Xbox One