Take one look at the hand drawn artwork of puzzle-adventure title Figment
and you'd be mistaken for thinking that the game was a fairy tale trek through happy fantasy landscapes, but that would be doing it injustice. Underneath the surface, these worlds aren't doing so well. You see, each of those worlds makes up a section of the human mind, and that mind is in turmoil after a devastating car crash. Fears and nightmares are manifesting themselves in many different forms and they're taking over the mind of the victim. It is up to the player to vanquish those terrors and restore the worlds back to a peaceful state of mind, helping the victim to heal at the same time.
When first arriving at the small interconnected islands of the Freedom Isles, it is indeed hard to believe that anything is wrong. Bright colours assault your senses. White clouds travel on the breeze in the background. Musical flowers play happily to themselves and there's not a soul to be seen. Piper, the player's ever-optimistic flying companion thinks that it's great to be back in the creative part of the mind. Dusty, the game's protagonist and the mind's former voice of courage, doesn't think so. Sure enough, the pair soon encounters a long-nosed, singing, fart throwing Plague Nightmare who must be vanquished to rid the mind of the clouds of toxic gas.
Pursuing him is easier said than done. The game's puzzles begin simply. Windmills must be used to blow away the toxic gas that blocks the path ahead, but sometimes you'll need to find either the batteries that power them or the handles that turn them. Occasionally enemies will spring from the ground and will try to stop you by spraying you with a toxic venom, and you'll sometimes need to dodge teeth that fall from the sky in a visual representation of the fear of tooth loss. It's all rather fitting for a dream-like state where little is supposed to make sense. Indeed, the next encounter with the Plague Nightmare tasks players with defeating him while he throws vials of toxic venom at them. This isn't the end, though, and the Nightmare must be pursued to another island.
Here the puzzles begin to get more challenging as new gameplay features are introduced. Despite this, they're not so complicated that strangers to the genre would struggle too much. The Overpass of Originality is partially constructed of musical instruments, such as the accordian bridge that can only be extended once players find all three of the trumpet pistons that control it. The enemies that were previously just a hindrance might now have a purpose before they need to be killed. The clouds of toxic gas create a veritable maze as players juggle a larger number of windmills at the same time. Success here saw the duo transported away to a later stage in the game.
The Clockwork Town represents the logical part of the mind. Here the landscape is far more industrial. Clocks tick away to themselves. Coiled springs threaten to unfurl at any moment. Rotating cogs create platforms that can link the individual islands and it is these that are controlled by the tri-coloured batteries. Here the atmosphere seems darker and there's another nightmare to be faced. The dusty cobwebs of this unused part of the mind have been created by the arachnid commonwealth and this tribe of spiders needs to be defeated. This is the Spider Nightmare.
Here we are finally introduced to the charged attack, but it is for puzzle solving purposes that this is needed. Directly vanquishing enemies takes a back seat in this game and is likely the reason why only one button is used for a simple melee attack (hold it down to charge it) and another is used for dodging. There is far more of an emphasis on puzzles, although the level's traps are becoming more vicious too. Swinging pendulums threaten to knock Dusty off the narrow connecting pipes and bridges so perfect timing is a must. After winding up a dusty clockwork toy and reconstructing platforms, Dusty and Piper move on to the final level of the demo.
At the centre of the level is a massive "organ-machine-house-thing" and the main multi-part puzzle of the level. The puzzles have become more diverse, involving a variety of block puzzles and the memorisation of short sequences. Observation is key here. Not only will players soak up the game's atmosphere with its constant musical accompaniment and its whimsical environments, visual hints must be gathered if players are to succeed. We never see the Spider Nightmare again so we're still unsure of its fate, although I would imagine it isn't terribly positive for the eight-legged fiend.
Despite the knowledge that you're restoring the mind of an unconscious victim, little was mentioned about this through the main gameplay. Instead, as well as completing the levels and restoring the worlds, players can also locate collectibles known as remembrances. These help to further backfill the story of the victim but they are harder to reach. Often hidden in locations away from the main puzzles of the level, they require more thinking than that needed to progress through the level itself.Figment
will be released through ID@Xbox later this year on Xbox One and Windows 10 as a Play Anywhere title. It's a title whose charm and personality should endear it to both children and adults alike as they fight fears and nightmares that are often pushed to the dark recesses of the human mind, and they're recesses that I can't wait to explore further.