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Figment2logo.jpg.3fe7aa56a502a0d26a7204255ae2a447.jpgIn 2018, developer Bedtime Digital Games released a charming and surreal adventure on the Switch that let players journey through a mind plagued by nightmares. Now players can return to that world of personified thoughts with Figment 2: Creed Valley. But while the core story is once again an emotional tale, the game's performance on the Switch puts a damper on the whole experience.
You play as Dusty, the personification of courage and the same protagonist from the first game. With the help of your bird pal Piper, it's your job to deal with nightmares in the mind, which usually means giving them a good whacking with your wooden sword. This time a two-headed jester is causing havoc in Creed Valley, so you'll need to get to the root cause of the problem and clear up the mind. Like the first game, Figment 2 strikes a nice balance between adventure game and thoughtful reflection on mental health. The themes are perhaps a bit less heavy here in the sequel, but the ultimate message of self-care and self-reflection is one that will easily resonate with anyone, even if it's delivered in a somewhat saccharine way at times. Indeed, the banter between Dusty and Piper is a lot of fun—and packed with puns—but can also be so on-the-nose that it can come off clunky. Still, overall it's a smart and entertaining story that goes beyond the usual "save the world" adventure plot.
The gameplay is a blend of action and puzzles across a linear and fairly short runtime. Exploration is normally limited to following the one available path that will reward you with a key that opens up the next area, and occasionally you'll need to beat up some enemies. Combat is quite basic with just a couple of basic sword attacks and a dodge roll at your disposal, even through the end of the game, and more frustratingly your moves feel slow and clumsy. It's not uncommon for enemies to hit you while you're still winding up or recovering from a swing, which is especially a problem when you're surrounded by enemies. There are also only a couple of enemy types to encounter. Battles are thankfully rather short, but it still would've been nice to see more depth to the combat system.
Boss fights, at least, add a lot more engaging gameplay and personality to Figment 2. These bigger battles tend to focus on dodging waves of attacks, kind of like an isometric bullet hell shooter, as well as incorporating puzzles into the battle—e.g. the boss might not be vulnerable until you solve a little puzzle in the environment. Most importantly, Figment 2 is a musical just like its predecessor, so boss fights are accompanied by lyrical songs (and there are a few other tunes scattered throughout the adventure as well). Though there are only a few boss fights in the game, these musical numbers are a blast and add a ton of bizarre, surreal charm.
The puzzle side of Figment 2 runs a wide but somewhat shallow gamut. The basic ones simply involve finding the right keys, but there is also a good variety of challenges to keep things interesting, including a maze filled with smaller puzzle challenges and even a miniature detective story. It's awesome to have these unique challenges available, but most of them are also pretty simple. A bit more depth to the puzzle gameplay would have gone a long way to rounding out the Figment 2 experience. Furthermore, I ran into a couple of glitches involving puzzles that required restarting the game, which is definitely a bummer to encounter.
Even outside of those glitches though, Figment 2 runs pretty poorly on the Switch. It's especially a shame because the surreal, abstract representation of the mind is gorgeous from a design perspective and provides a unique, distinctive visual style to the game, but the frame rate just cannot seem to smooth itself out. It's constantly and noticeably stuttering which spoils the beautiful visuals as well as the timing of moving and fighting. It's just disappointing that the game isn't more stable on the Switch. The audio side of the presentation doesn't disappoint, at least. As mentioned the musical numbers are excellent, and the rest of the soundtrack is great as well. There's also a ton of voice acting that really completes the characters' personalities.
As mentioned Figment 2 is quite short, clocking in at under five hours. There are optional memory spheres to collect, and finding a requisite amount unlocks a memory for a bit of backstory, but it's a pretty small reward and finding memory spheres usually isn't much of a challenge anyway. There's also a local two-player mode where another player controls Piper. She only provides some light support so it's not quite a full-fledged co-op experience, but it can still be nice to get a friend in on the adventure.
Figment 2: Creed Valley doesn't push itself far beyond its predecessor, but that still means it's an enjoyable adventure through the mind filled with surreal scenery and fabulous musical numbers. The gameplay remains a bit too shallow, both in terms of combat and puzzles, but the game's personality buoys the experience. Unfortunately the game really struggles to run smoothly on the Switch though, so it might be best to give Figment 2 a shot on a different platform.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Memories
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