What have they got that I ain’t got? Courage.
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Switch
Developer: Bedtime Digital Games
Publisher: Bedtime Digital Games
Release Date: Out now
TL;DR: A surreal puzzler that’s swimming in charm
Family Focus?: Click here for more information
Life has a tendency to get messy for all of us at times. And when the cognitive shit does hit the fan, it can be even more trying to pull yourself out of that psychological hole. Figment, the latest title from Danish outfit Bedtime Digital Games, is a game all about pulling yourself out of one such hole and having already wowed players on PC and Switch, it’s now wowing PS4 players thanks to its stellar level design and music.
Figment tells a story of a traumatic car crash, an event that manages to cause a bit of a stir on the psyche of one victim. It’s across this scattered landscape of the mind that the game is set, putting you in the shoes of courage incarnate, Dusty, who looks like an Animal Crossing character in their 30’s. Dusty isn’t in great shape as the game begins, lazily sitting on his porch sipping at a drink, all the signs point to the mind’s courage being sent to an early retirement. It’s not until a comically evil manifestation of a nightmare shows and steals a scrapbook of memories that Dusty is forced off his arse by his bird companion, Piper, and made to track down the Nightmare. This need to retrieve his past glories is the impetus of Figment, taking you through a mind that’s wrought by the game’s opening incident and tasking you with bringing peace to the lobes by solving puzzles, fighting some goons, and pummelling a couple of bosses.
That dreaded mention of puzzle gameplay might have put a few of you off but the complexity of these segments aren’t too bad at all. What Figment does so well in this regard is its variety of puzzles; having the game split into three separate worlds with the creative left-side of the mind, the logic-based right-side of the mind, and the game’s final world means that each of these surreal settings plays home to different brainteasers. The puzzles vary from things like button switch puzzles, where you have to create a path of lit or unlit button without backtracking, while other puzzles have you guiding one of the mind’s heavy thoughts back to its home using a circuit of train tracks. Some of the puzzles will, of course, need a bit more thinking time but I never felt as if any of them were so complex as to render them frustrating.
As I said, it’s the variety of the game’s worlds that give way to the nice catalogue of puzzles and it’s that same distinctiveness between worlds that, while it might be a small collection of worlds, each has a wonderfully distinct feel. That logic-heavy right part of the mind takes shape as the venerable Clockwork Town, full of rogue cogs sprouting from the ground while clocks that endlessly spin splinter the ground, knocking you for six when they connect. The left side of the brain, named Freedom Isles, is a far more gentle place. Taking inspiration from its affiliation with our creative strain of thought, it takes shape as a blur of vibrant greens, lilypad bridges that make a decidedly satisfying squelching noise as you trudge across them. It’s a fairly musical place this left-side of the mind, and instruments grow out of the ground like plants and giving them a whack with your sword will see the guitar plant belch out an uneven note.
It’s the game’s final world that shows Figment’s most nuanced approach to its subject matter though. The world is a fractured collage of post-it notes, bills, and more, all devised it such an effortless way so as to document that journey of the things we deal with day to day and how they trickle down, carving out their own little spots in our minds. It’s a motif that spreads throughout the entire world, with the recent trauma that kicks off Figment taking its place at the top of the conscious mind, traffic lights string platforms together while the music is undercut by a constant siren, and mutilated pieces of metal of your car litter the air of the world; it’s a grim contrast to the whimsy of Figment’s other areas but it works incredibly well.
Along with those design choices, the atmosphere of Figment’s story is bolstered further by its music. A lot was made of the musical aspect of the game’s characters but it’s not a huge part of the game. Bosses sing at you while you try to murder them and the mind’s Mayor does a bit of spoken word at you, and it’s all pretty nice. More than anything, the singing bosses add a little levity to the game; it’s a move that works well when you’re trying to make a game about trauma still fun to play and, thankfully, Figment manages to deliver a story that doesn’t trivialise its message while remaining fairly light-hearted thanks to its music. It’s worth mentioning that it’s not all singing bosses, the game’s regular soundtrack is bloody wonderful, full of lazy jazz riffs and a handful of other catchy tunes which all help in making spending time in Figment’s bizarre world well worthwhile.
More than anything, Figment is an earnest attempt to tell an ultimately uplifting story surrounding a tragedy and it does this pretty well. The cynic in me wants to say that the plot of Figment is wrapped up a little too neatly but it’s a plot that works well for the game. It’s a great game to play over the course of a day so if you’re looking for something with a dash of originality, Figment is well worth a shout.
- A wonderfully whimsical design
- A great variety of puzzles
- Combat does feature and it’s done well
- Apart from hoovering up the rest of the collectables, there’s not much to do in Figment after completing the story (though a story DLC is planned for late 2019)
PEGI: 12 ESRB: “T” for Teen
There’s nothing untoward in Figment; combat is pretty harmless but some puzzles might leave younger players needing a hand.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.