Face Your Fears in Figment

Released on Steam last September, Figment is a musical action-adventure game that delves into a conscious mind filled with trauma – but soon it’s hitting all three major consoles. Hardcore Gamer had the chance to go hands on with the Switch version, which is just as beautiful with its Unity-powered, hand drawn aesthetic and runs just as smooth.

Figment puts you in control of Dusty, an internalized representation of a grown man’s courage who has become complacent as time goes on. The old man has begun having nightmares and his conscious mind is growing unhealthy. With the help of his ever-optimistic friend Piper, Dusty sets off to defeat this man’s nightmares and restore his mind to a healthy place once again.

A bit of parallel storytelling goes on in Figment. While Dusty’s narrative inside the conscious mind takes center stage, there are various unlockable pits of story that the player can uncover to figure out exactly what caused so much trauma in the old man’s life. For instance, after scaring away some enemies and backtracking a bit to an old lady’s house, Dusty could get a small text exposition on how the old man’s mother was hyper-critical of his drawing as a child. As the game progresses, these trauma’s become a bit more serious and apparent, but showing how the seeds of doubt and fear were shown goes a long way in explaining the state of this man’s mind.

As an action-adventure game, Figment keeps things simple. There’s one button to swing your sword, and another to roll away from attacks. Often the combat comes down to timing, which is aided by the game’s musical basis – tells for attacks are not only telegraphed by visual cues, but audial ones as well. Though this basic combat could get old in a larger game, Figment’s relatively short playtime of 4-5 hours keeps it fresh, and new enemies being introduced in each world allow this system to remain interesting throughout.

When going hands-on with the Switch version, we played through part of the game’s first world: creativity. In it, plants of all sorts have instruments sprouting out as their bulbs, pencils come together to form bridges, and more. It’s a highly musical landscape and hitting objects will often make them produce music. Exclusive to the Switch version, players can also touch objects directly with the touch screen to make these effects happen as well. We’ve been told developer Bedtime Digital Games have also taken the time to utilize HD rumble to make interactions that much more tangible.

The world of creativity has been taken over by a nightmare. This nightmare and his henchmen are poisoning everything, and it’s up to Dusty and Piper to use windmills to blow billowing toxic clouds out of their path. The nightmare itself has a head reminiscent of the classic plague doctor masks from 1,300’s, the one’s with the terrifying beaks that held potpourri to keep the sickness at bay. Figment’s simple but effective puzzles often revolve around cranks and stones that act as generators, as there are multiple windmills and other machines that need operating, but not all can be utilized at the same time. We’ve been told that the worlds and their puzzles become much more complex than this.

Figment’s music is wholly unique and directly tied to the gameplay and narrative. The nightmares have their own songs that they sing whenever you come into contact with them and they’re often indicative of what kind of nightmare they are. Again, the music present during combat and exploration is also dynamic and impressive. Figment is a game you’ll want to play with headphones on.

Bedtime Digital Games haven’t yet announced a release date for the console version of Figment, but it’s due out on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch sometime soon. If you can’t wait for that, it’s available for Mac and PC on Steam and GoG right now for $19.99 US. It’s a creative, entertaining journey that you’d be remiss not to take.