System: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam)
Developer: Bedtime Digital Games
Publisher: Bedtime Digital Games
Price:$15,99/ € 19,99 (on offer for € 15,99 until July 21)/
£ 17,99 ( on offer for £ 14,39 until July 21)
(Review code kindly provided by Bedtime Digital Games)
When I could get my hands on an early review code for Figment I immediately jumped on it. After all, this was a game that is on my Top 10 list of casual games for the Switch! I must admit I went into the game blindly: I only knew from some screenshots and a trailer that it was colourful and an interesting action adventure game.
I didn’t know more about the game beforehand, even though the title had been on Steam for quite some time already. But that’s the way I play my games most of the time: if I think I’ll like a game, I don’t watch too much footage. Don’t want to spoil the sensation of seeing a game in action for the very first time.
Suffice it to say that I went into the game with a different expectation. Figment starts out totally different from the colourful and casual I was expecting. In fact, it starts out sad. You hear a conversations between a child and a dad, and then an accident takes place. Not good when the screen turns red…
Let’s get going!
You game starts out with Dusty, a cartoonish creature who is lazily rocking in his rocking chair, looking at his scrapbook, whiling away the time. A little bird called Piper is trying to get him into action, but the only action he is willing to do is get some ice for his Cerebrum Cider.
You are charged with guiding him to get the ice, and it’s immediately clear that the visuals in the game are something special: the world you are in is a storybook world, where the clouds hang on strings and little yellow pencils with a red gum on top for the bridges between the bits of land you walk on.
Dusty is apathetic, a bit angry and he just wants to be left alone. Not going to happen though, as when he comes back from getting the ice, he finds that a Nightmare has stolen his Cider and more importantly, his scrapbook! There’s nothing for it but to follow the Nightmare and get his things back.
This ain’t Kansas anymore….
Dusty starts out in the Outer Cerebrum and this is your indication that this isn’t your standard dungeon world. We are in the mind of a child, a traumatized child judging from what Major Relic tells us when we arrive in Cerebrum city:
“Trauma in the conscious mind. The nightmares have come unconfined. They’ve seized our lands without remorse. We hide in fear behind closed doors.”
In Cerebrum city there are several houses, and knocking on their doors reveals more indication of just where we are: there’s the House of Optimism and the House of Party, each with their own line when you knock on the door. The house of Stress: “hurry, do something now, what are you waiting for?”. The House of Nostalgia: “when the mind was young, everything was much easier. and it never rained”.
Freedom Isles, which come next, are more like the visuals I was expecting. Bright and cheery and no rain. There are guitars in the form of flowers, and music notes all around. I’ll tell you, I’ve never gamed in such a landscape before. Some of the texts made me smile, but sometimes the environment is very somber. The melancholy of it all comes across very well, and I can safely say this landscape we are playing in is pretty special.
The enemies are Nightmares, literally
As the major already mentioned, the land is under attack from nightmares and plagues. Dusty finds himself a wooden sword and goes after the nightmare that took his scrapbook. His energy to fight is filled up by little globs of endorphins, and at times by the bigger boost of endurance neurons.
The fighting isn’t too hard, though at times the creatures you meet can be a real pain as they don’t want to stay down. No many how many you fight off, they keep popping out of the sand. The game is forgiving though: when you lose a fight you just come back at the last automatic save point. Which is fine, as the games saves often.
What’s fun is that when the enemy is talking, the music in the game changes to loud hardrock, with tearing guitars and raw notes. The voices of the Nightmares get on your nerves, which is exactly the intention of course. And in the first boss fight the Plague you have to beat doesn’t just lob stinking material at you, it also sings a song to annoy you.
“For you I have a gift full of Black Death, red nose and green gills, a pharmacy of bitter pills. Drenched in sweat and with a scream, you’ll wake up from my fever dream” and so on.
Appealing puzzles to solve
For me, the fun of the game isn’t as much in the fighting as it is in the puzzles. The creators really thought up some fun little diversions while you are chasing the negative enemies of your well being. It’s in the way bridges are formed, in the way you procure an air balloon (uhhh an apple, actually) and it’s in the musical puzzles.
— YvoCaro (@YvoCaro) June 28, 2018
I don’t want to give too much away, but check out this little clip about the apple and the worm. There are lots of things in the game that will make you smile with the ingenuity of it all. As it happens, I’ve played another game of the developers before on my iPad. Chronology was just such a fun diversion, a pity it’s not playable anymore on iOS 11. (find my thoughts on Chronology here)
Figment is a good puzzle adventure of a kind you don’t find often. It manages to get the sentiment across that you are actually playing in the mind of a child that has been traumatized. On you journey you can collect his memories by finding remembraines, little pictures of what used to be. Other then that, there’s not a lot to do in sidequesting.
I haven’t finished the game yet, but I’ve heard it can be done in 6-8 hours if you are quick. I bet it will take me longer, but it does go to show it’s not a long game. Each will find their own fun in the game, whether it’s in the fighting or the puzzles. For me, the enjoyment is in the way the game is made and presented.
The game might not be for everyone though. It’s rated Teen in the US, and ages 12 and up in Europe, and I can see why. Some of the language and the humor might not be for everyone. Plus, like I already mentioned, the game feels quite melancholy.
Figment is right at home on the Switch, and is easy to play in handheld mode. It’s a creative way to present a puzzle adventure, with some fighting thrown in. Imagination is what drives this game, and I’m giving it an “I like it”.
Not the casual game I was hoping for, but lots of fun in its own right.