Figment 2: I've Changed My Tune and Found My Feet

Taking down The Jester, one Opinion at a time

Figment 2: I've Changed My Tune and Found My Feet
Source: Bedtime Digital Games

There's this weird presumption in some circles that a medium can't have artistic merit unless it abandons everything that makes it unique and interesting. So novels of merit have to be needlessly dense and obscure, artistic music must be dissonant, artistic films need to be unstructured and plotless, and artistic games can't have significant gameplay. To such people, if you enjoyed something, then it wasn't "real" art.

By way of counterexample, I present Figment 2: Creed Valley, the sequel to the 2017 game by Bedtime Digital. Figment 2 demonstrates how a game can be beautiful, stylish, and fun at the same time, without compromising on any of those points.

Source: Author.

Deep within each person, there exists the Mind, a subconscious construct representing all of their thoughts, fears, and wishes. Within this particular mind is a figment called Dusty, the personification of courage. It is his sacred duty to hunt and defeat "nightmares," the manifestations of unresolved fears and neuroses.

One day, Dusty is dispatched to Creed Valley, the land of the Opinions, to hunt down a two-headed harlequin called "the Jester" which has been wreaking havoc with the Moral Compass. Thinking that the Jester is nothing more than a manifestation of a fear of clowns, Dusty attempts to fix the problem via his usual technique - whacking it until it's no longer a problem. But when the Jester refuses to go down, Dusty has to acknowledge that there's something different about this entity and sets off on a quest (aided by his ever-chipper bird sidekick Piper, representing optimism) to find a way to defeat this unusual foe.

Source: Author.

Figment 2 is an action-adventure game, somewhat similar to a 2D Zelda title but with the world oriented in a more isometric manner. Gameplay can be loosely divided into combat and puzzles, with a few other mechanical quirks and a fair amount of exploration.

Dusty is a born fighter, which is good because Creed Valley is littered with the Jester's toys and they are not friendly at all. The combat system is simple: Dusty carries a sword that he can use in either a five-hit combo or a lunging attack and he also has a dodge roll to avoid taking damage. Fights are very easy at first, but the difficulty ramps up fast. By the end, you'll be seeing multi-wave fights in close quarters with enemies that possess various special traits. A clever player will learn how to manage these fights by using hazards or even enemies' own attacks to defeat them more quickly.

The puzzles are, by and large, easier than the combat, and they're a varied lot. Many are typical video game fare - memory and logic puzzles, switch manipulation - but there are also some more off-beat ones, such as a sequence in which Dusty has to solve a crime using the process of deduction. Many puzzles require using totems that change the state of the Mind from closed to open and back, something which switches gates and activates or deactivates devices but also affects the environment in more colorful ways. The poor Opinions can have their little minds changed with the press of a button.

Source: Author.

That last point shows one of the more interesting quirks of Figment 2. I'm not sure I've ever seen a game integrate gameplay, story, and environment quite like this one. Unfortunately, this review being text means that everyone misses out on the best part of all of this.

Figment 2 is, in reality, a musical. Yes, characters will break into song at times, but there's more than that. The entire game has a musical theme that is all-encompassing. Environmental effects such as raindrops form the percussion for the BGM. Certain enemies attack in time to the beat of the combat music. In fact, almost everything follows the beat in some way or another. Those songs are also very good, and I say that as someone who's no fan of musicals. If you don't at least chuckle at the terrible advice belted out by the Choir of Discarded Opinions - a sequence featured prominently in the trailer - then you might just need to wait until Figment 3 when Dusty tries to fix your sense of humor.

And let's not overlook the visuals here. Figment 2 is a gorgeous game, with an art style that recalls Double Fine's better work. Because the game takes place in a subconscious setting, there's room for plenty of whimsical and surreal imagery - and this imagery can also shift based on Dusty's actions.

Source: Author.

There's one more little aspect that I should touch on. The story I mentioned at the top is just half of what's going on here. As with most stories that use a "world of the subconscious" framing device, the events inside are symbolic recreations of something happening on the outside.

Most of such stories go with something standard for the external conflict - love, death, something similarly pedestrian that's easy to write in "deep" terms. In Figment 2, the conflict is a lot more specific: The excitement and anxiety over buying a house for the first time. At first, you might not see how the adventures of Dusty tie into the conflict, but just wait. In the end, it ties together to create something a lot more touching than you'd get from yet another bland love story.

And that's the art of it.

In sum

Figment 2: Creed Valley is an action-adventure game set in the unreal world of the subconscious. The graphics, music, and writing are all top-notch, and the game will appeal to anyone who loves a good narrative or just good gameplay.

Figment 2: Creed Valley is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and on PC via Steam and EGS. This review covered the Steam version. A review key was provided by the developer.


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