In 2017, Bedtime Digital Games released Figment, a cute and dreamlike action puzzle game that aimed to be a little more ambitious and expansive than their debut release, Back to Bed. We enjoyed it, and evidently plenty of other people did, too, as the studio has now brought us Figment 2: Creed Valley. Though Figment 2 feels like more of the same, it nonetheless offers up an enjoyable and engaging puzzle experience that we feel is worth your time, although perhaps less so on Switch.
Figment 2 borrows from the playbook of Pixar’s Inside Out by placing you in a fictionalized world within an ordinary person’s mind, where various abstract concepts like compassion or opinions are represented by tangible objects and characters. The narrative primarily follows Dusty, the embodiment of the mind’s courage, and his bird friend, Piper, as they work to fix the moral compass of a father struggling to balance his family’s emotional needs with his own sense of what he should be prioritizing as a provider. Dusty and Piper must fend off evil Nightmares that threaten to upset the balance of this man’s mind, all while trying to make their way through the whimsical and sprawling land of the eponymous Creed Valley.
It's not a terribly in-depth narrative on the face of it—you can probably guess the lesson that the workaholic dad learns here—but it’s buoyed well by the great chemistry between Dusty and Piper. As you solve puzzles and bust baddies, these two will constantly banter back and forth in an exaggerated and hammy kind of way that stops just short of being annoying. Bad puns and cheesy jokes are the norm here, but there’s something magnetically charming about the unflinching optimism and confidence the two display. Plus, it's refreshing to observe a pair of uncomplicated characters to whom the world is nothing but an expansive playground; Dusty and Piper just roll with the punches and find something corny to say no matter what they face.
Gameplay takes the form of an action puzzler, feeling somewhat like an isometric version of the Trine series. Dusty and Piper take a mostly linear path through the mind world and contend with simple but compelling puzzles that have you do things like solving the correct order in which to trigger switches that raise and lower platforms or swapping between binary world states while you gradually create a path forward.
None of the puzzles take particularly long to figure out, yet they feel like they’re at just the right level of difficulty where it still takes you a few minutes and a little bit of trial and error before you get it. Plus, the rather short five-hour runtime means that new ideas are brought in relatively quickly to keep puzzles feeling fresh as you careen towards the end.
Combat is less alluring, but nonetheless briefly breaks up the puzzling. Dusty can bat at enemies with his sword and dodge roll out of the way when they hit back, but his kit quickly feels a little too basic. Sure, you might not expect combat here to compare to Hades, but there’s an awkward stiffness to most engagements that makes them a bit of a chore. However, they don’t overstay their welcome, and things get much more interesting when you get into a boss fight.
Though we would’ve liked more variety in the bosses themselves, we appreciated that each fight had unique phases and attacks to learn as you wait for an opening to hit. Part of this is due to the musical elements, as the bosses will sing and attack to the beat of whatever special track is playing for this fight. Your movements don’t need to be as precise as they would in a rhythm game, but the spectacle of these battles remains enjoyable while you're trying to stay in the groove; boss fights easily stand out as one of the highlights of Figment 2.
Those of you who have someone else on hand can also play in two-player mode, in which Player 2 takes control of Piper. Her role feels a bit like the Luma from Super Mario Galaxy 2 where the second player is clearly adopting a support role, but it’s still a fun way to get someone else engaged beyond them simply calling out ideas for potential puzzle solutions. Also, this co-op mode can be activated or deactivated at any time and supports single Joy-Con play, making it ideal for multiplayer in portable mode.
In terms of its presentation, Bedtime Digital does a fantastic job of conveying the weird and abstract world of the mind. Whether you’re flying around riding on the spine of flying books or jumping across floating islands dotted with somewhat creepy blinking eyes, there are big Alice in Wonderland vibes to the whimsical and vaguely unsettling vistas you explore. Best of all, the art style used here employs a carefully crafted, painterly look that makes Figment 2 look like a painting come to life.
We think special mention needs to be made here, too, of the excellent voice work on display, especially by the leading duo. Dusty’s cocksure and heroic personality is given a life of its own in Catty Donnelly’s performance, while Ora Chaya’s perky and playful portrayal of Piper perfectly matches her free-flying form. Even if the dialogue is pretty run-of-the-mill, the voice cast consistently displays a kind of raw passion and energy that elevates the lines quite a bit.
All pretty good, then — but, unfortunately, here comes a caveat. The most glaring flaw with Figment 2 is its subpar performance in both docked and handheld, which substantially drags down the experience on Switch. There were far too few moments where we observed the action actually holding to the intended 30 FPS target; drops are frequent, heavy, and noticeably impact gameplay. Sometimes the lag can cause you to miss the timing on a dodge roll and eat a punch, though most of the time it’s just an annoyance as you watch Dusty shudder and stagger his way across bridges and platforms while the whole world slows down for a few seconds.
Given how much this short game has to offer, it's a real shame to see overall performance let it down so badly. It’s certainly not unplayable, but we would rank the Switch version in a distant last place when compared to the versions on other platforms which feature substantially better performance. Portability may be a nice plus, but it's not enough to outweigh the performance drops.
Figment 2 stands as a competent and creative action puzzle game with a lot of heart. Though it feels rather short, it’s clear that a lot of thought and care went into making this charming world. Satisfying puzzles and excellent presentation are a big draw here, though they’re let down by simplistic combat and undeniably rough, gameplay-affecting performance on Switch. We'll keep our fingers crossed for patches, and we’d still give Figment 2 a recommendation, though you may want to wait for this one to go on sale.