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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
|+ 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|