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Figment Review

Explore the strange and surreal subconscious mind in Figment, a musical adventure-puzzle game by Bedtime Digital Studios. Join Dusty and his bird friend Piper as they solve puzzles and battle nightmarish creatures in hopes of bringing courage and calm back to the mind.

introduction

Figment is an action-puzzle game developed by Danish developers, Bedtime Digital Games. Influenced by surrealist themes and symbols the games takes place in the subconscious mind, a strange and whimsical world of memories, thoughts, and experiences. You play as Dusty, who acts as the courage of the mind and along with an optimistic bird named Piper, you must fight the three fears that have manifested themselves in different areas of the mind. Bedtime Digital Games’ previous game Back to Bed also featured vivid surrealist graphics and puzzle elements that won the developer's several awards and nominations. However, Back to Bed feels like a warm-up compared to Figment which has much more to offer.

You can buy Figment on Steam.

Figment Review - Dusty's House

Story

The weird and wonderful world of Figment takes place within a human mind, a place that has been quiet and calm for years has suddenly been infiltrated by nightmares who spread fear wherever they go. The only hope to save this world is a creature named Dusty who must solve puzzles, fight the nightmares and bring courage and tranquillity back to the mind. Well let's get real here, the premise of Figment sounds like a sugary-sweet children’s story, and it some ways it embraces this, but Bedtime Digital Games have managed to keep Figment on the side of charming over childish with the character of Dusty.

When we are first introduced to Dusty he is living on the outskirts of the mind in a little shack complaining about having no ice for his cocktail – not really a character you’d find in a kids book. A character out only for himself, the only reason he decides to defeat the fears is that they stole his scrapbook of photographs. He is the main source of humor in the game and has no worries sassing anyone who annoys him. He adds a shot of humored bitterness into this charming story and this mix works really well.

Dusty is one of the handful of quirky and weird characters in Figment, a colorful cast of weird subconscious creations; your overly-optimistic bird friend Piper, the Mayor who only speaks in rhymes, and Bosses who sing their own personal musical number as they try and kill you (more on this later). All the characters of Figment have voice actors, even the smaller characters that only have a line or two. If you decide to knock on a door of any of the buildings in the game, you are always going to get a reply from its occupant. The variety of voices and responses makes you want to knock and see who replies, be it a friendly Danish inflection or a grizzly Scottish 

grump.
Figment Review - Clockwork Town
With a bright and colorful world, it would have been nice to have seen and interacted with the characters behind these voices. Instead, they are tucked away inside their houses and this leaves areas feeling a little empty. If you look at other games of the same genre like Samorost or Tiny Echo, their worlds are full with weird and quirky characters that are fun to interact with or are just used in the background to bring the world to life. Apart from a handful of characters, including the protagonists and the three fears, there are not any other avatars to interact with. The idea is that they are hiding in their houses because they are scared of the nightmares but I would have loved to see some more subconscious mind creatures to match the beautiful imaginative world Bedtime Digital Games have created.

Under all this vivid color and humor there is a dark undertone. Before we are dropped into the mind there is a short voice-over conversation that plants the seeds of several questions. Whose mind does the game take place in?  Why have these fears manifested now? What is happening outside the mind? This serious undertone gives Figment a little more narrative depth given that in this game some of the obstacles are fart clouds.

Gameplay

Figment is structured into three main worlds and a small ‘home’ world. These are the logical left and creative right sides of the brain and the ‘concious mind’ area in the final act. The goal is to defeat three bosses, one located in each world and bring peace to the mind. You move through areas, solving puzzles and defeating small enemies and then there is a boss battle at the end. In this respect, the game is very structured and easy to predict but it keeps things varied and interesting with its styles of gameplay.
Figment Review: Windmill puzzle
Back to Bed featured one style of puzzle that developed its mechanics and rules to increase the difficulty. In Figment, it seems as though the developers have moved away from this to a style of puzzle game that features many different styles. There are memory puzzles, hidden objects, moving blocks, projectile puzzles, the order of events type of puzzle, the variety keeps things interesting and entertaining. The puzzles also fit characteristically into the area they are in. In the right side of the mind, puzzles are more musically oriented, finding the missing trumpet pistons or pressing piano keys in the right order. Whereas on the left side of the mind focuses on mechanical puzzles like fitting cogs into a machine avoiding deadly clock hands. In the game’s final more darker area, the player has to move blockades to avoid waves a black despair. Whenever I felt completely done with a style of puzzle the game introduced a new one. Figment is around four to five hours long and I breezed through the game in one sitting because it kept me interested.

An element that did get a little repetitive was the combat. Similar to the puzzles each area has enemies which match the fear that is inhabiting that area, an example being that the left side of the mind is inhabited by arachnophobia, so the player has to battle spiders throughout. These combat sections feature several different enemies but in comparison to the variety of puzzles there is no variety in the enemies or how you approach them, you just dodge and time your hits. I do like these small combat sections adding to the variety of gameplay but they get a little stale after a while.

Figment Review - the boss, Aracnophobia

The boss battles, on the other hand, are the best combat sequences by far. When advancing through the area the fears sometimes show up and taunt you, their music playing under their dialogue. Then, when you finally get to face them and you start attacking each other, they burst into a musical performance. These songs are the best of the soundtrack and are really catchy. The combat is also pushed a little more in these battles where the player must attack and also manipulate the environment to defeat the bosses.

Graphics and Audio

When talking about the visuals and audio for Figment they have to be addressed together because they interlock so strongly with each other.  The surrealist wonderland that Bedtime Digital Games has created is vividly brought to life through this delicate relationship between landscape and sound. The surrealist iconography is well represented in Figment, from Dali’s clocks to Magritte’s apples, strange and warped objects and fantastical structures all capture the weirdness of the subconscious mind. The three areas are strange and beautiful, it has that Alice: Madness Returns feeling about it.

Figment Review - musical influences

But these visuals are only half of the overall feeling of this world, its when your character interacts with objects that this bizarre world comes to life. As you walk past a particular instrument it will be more prominent in the musical score. When you have to run across clock face you can hear ticking noises in the soundtrack.  A personal favorite of mine is in the clockwork world, if you pass by a piece of metal in a spiral shape the soundtrack adds a ‘twanging’ noise that fits in time with the music.  The movement of the player directly changes what you hear in the game’s soundtrack and when these tiny noises fit with the timing and rhythm of the music it's so satisfying to listen to. It's these small noises really make the surrealist wonderland of Figment come to life.  

Conclusion

Bedtime Digital Games have pulled out all the stops of their creativity in Figment, it’s a fully realized vision of the world that was hinted at in Back to Bed. Although both games are brilliant takes on surrealist themes and ideas, Figment’s bizarre and weird world feel alive and a place you can immerse yourself into. It’s a game that is fun and humorous whilst also having a moral message about loss and courage.  

PROSCONS
+ The musical boss fights– Some areas felt empty, devoid of characters
+ A variety of puzzles– Repetitive combat and enemies
+ The dynamic landscape and sound design
8.6
Great

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