Save the Scrapbook, Save the Mind
Dusty was content to fade away. He accepted the fact that his skills were no longer needed, accepted that there was no place for him in a world at peace. If they were smart they would have left him alone, left him to drink and reminisce in peace. However, that never happens. Figment uses this literary trope to explore the subconscious mind and to prove courage is necessary at any age. When will the villains ever learn?
Figment is an action adventure game that offers clever puzzles in a unique atmosphere. The goal of the protagonist, Dusty, is to recover their stolen property so that they can get back to day-drinking. To do so, he will need to journey across the subconscious mind defeating the nightmares that have taken over and conveniently block his way. For the most part, the world itself is set up to block your way, forcing you to explore and solve puzzles to move forward. The obstacles are concise but still require a bit of back and forth movement to solve. This movement quickly becomes tedious when paired with the fact that the character is unable to run or dash. While secondary puzzles placed throughout the levels do create a favorable exploration element, solving them only grants you an in-game collectible. Which disappointingly does nothing to affect gameplay. Combat is awkward and lacks a sense of urgency. Movement is often hindered by a fixed camera angle and actions are limited to only a dodge roll, base attack, and charged attack. Enemies are single instance obstacles that do not respawn and while they generate experience points the payoff for leveling is insignificant. Death holds no real penalty, resetting you to the point where the game has auto-saved with no other consequence.
The visual aesthetics are appealing having a quirky artistic flair. Hand painted texture and shading combined with a bizarre landscape gives a sense that you are traveling through a surrealist painting. This style is not used with character modeling, unfortunately. Instead, the developer chose to use cell shading and silly character design. With less than ten characters, the models feel jarringly out of place when compared to the majority of the scenery. A large amount of attention was given to the soundtrack, and it shows. The developers have made it entertaining with unique elements, like each boss having their own theme song and lyrics, or when you approach certain objects the background music will change, adding an instrument to the composition of the song that grows in intensity the closer you get. Voice acting, unfortunately, does not have the same quality. For example, NPC’s often have a clichéd mocking accent that fails to be funny. While the main characters’ lines often suffer from a flat delivery as well.
In the end, Figment attempts to hide mediocre gameplay and story behind pretty art and sounds. While fun to watch and listen to, actually playing the game feels tedious and incomplete. This flaw cancels out any positive points the game makes in style.
Figment is also available on PC and Switch.