In 2017, Bedtime Digital Games released Inventiona cute and dreamy action puzzle game that was meant to be a bit more ambitious and expansive than its first release, Back to bed. We enjoyed it, and obviously a lot of other people did too, because the studio has now brought us Image 2: Creed Valley. While Figment 2 looks more of the same, it still offers an enjoyable and engaging puzzle experience that we think is worth your time, although perhaps less so on Switch.
Figment 2 borrows from Pixar’s playbook Upside down by placing you in a fictional world in the mind of an ordinary person, where various abstract concepts like compassion or opinions are represented by tangible objects and characters. The story primarily follows Dusty, the embodiment of spirit courage, and his bird friend, Piper, as they work to set the moral compass of a father who struggles to balance his family’s emotional needs with his own. sense of what he should prioritize as a supplier. Dusty and Piper must fend off the evil nightmares that threaten to upset the balance of this man’s mind, while trying to navigate their way through the sprawling, whimsical lands of the eponymous Creed Valley.
It’s not a very in-depth tale at first glance – you can probably guess the lesson the workaholic dad is learning here – but it’s well supported by the great chemistry between Dusty and Piper. As you solve puzzles and take down bad guys, these two will constantly banter in an over-the-top, hammered-out way that just stops. just unless it’s annoying. Bad puns and corny jokes are the norm here, but there’s something magnetically charming about the unabashed optimism and confidence the two display. Moreover, it is refreshing to observe a pair of simple characters for whom the world is nothing but a vast playground; Dusty and Piper just roll with the punches and find something cheesy to say no matter what they’re up against.
Gameplay takes the form of an action puzzler, somewhat resembling an isometric version of the trine series. Dusty and Piper take a mostly linear path through the spirit world and face simple but compelling puzzles that have you doing things like figuring out the correct order in which to trigger switches that raise and lower platforms or swap between binary world states as you gradually create a path forward.
None of the puzzles take particularly long to figure out, but they feel like they’re at the right level of difficulty where it still takes you a few minutes and a 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 the puzzles fresh as you work your way to the end.
The combat is less enticing, but nonetheless briefly breaks the confusing. Dusty can smack enemies with his sword and dodge when they retaliate, but his kit quickly seems a bit too basic. Of course, you might not expect the fight here to compare to underworld, but there’s an awkward stiffness in most engagements that makes it a bit of a chore. They don’t overstay their welcome, though, and things get a lot more interesting when you get into a boss fight.
While we would have liked more variety in the bosses themselves, we liked that each fight had unique phases and attacks to learn while waiting 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 the special track being played for this fight. Your movements don’t need to be as precise as in a rhythm game, but the sight of these battles is still enjoyable as long as you try to stay in the rhythm; boss battles easily stand out as one of Figment 2’s strengths.
Those of you who have someone else on hand can also play in two-player mode, where Player 2 takes control of Piper. Her role is a bit like the Luma of Super Mario Galaxy 2 where the second player clearly takes on a supporting role, but it’s still a fun way to involve someone else beyond them by just calling up ideas for potential puzzle solutions. Additionally, this co-op mode can be turned on or off at any time and supports single Joy-Con play, making it ideal for handheld multiplayer.
In terms of presentation, Bedtime Digital does a fantastic job of conveying the weird and abstract world of the mind. Whether you’re flying on the back of flying books or hopping on floating islands dotted with creepy blinking eyes, there are big Alice in Wonderland vibes to the whimsical and vaguely unsettling vistas you explore. Even better, the art style used here uses a carefully crafted painterly look that makes Figment 2 look like a painting brought to life.
We think it’s also worth mentioning here the excellent voice work presented, especially by the lead duo. Dusty’s arrogant and heroic personality comes to life in Catty Donnelly’s performance, while Ora Chaya’s cheerful and playful portrayal of Piper matches her free-flying form perfectly. Even though the dialogue is fairly mundane, the voice cast consistently displays a sort of raw passion and energy that elevates the lines a bit.
All is well, then – but, unfortunately, here’s a caveat. Figment 2’s most glaring flaw is its subpar performance in both dock and handheld, which drastically diminishes the experience on Switch. There were far too few moments where we saw the action stick to the intended 30 FPS target; drops are frequent, heavy, and have a noticeable impact on gameplay. Sometimes the lag can cause you to miss the timing of a dodge roll and eat a punch, though most of the time it’s just an annoyance as you watch Dusty shake and smash his way through the bridges and platforms while the whole world slows down for a few seconds.
Considering everything this short game has to offer, it’s such a shame to see the overall performance leave it so badly. It’s certainly not unplayable, but we’d rank the Switch version last compared to versions on other platforms which offer significantly better performance. Portability can be a nice bonus, but it’s not enough to outweigh the performance hits.
Figment 2 presents itself as a competent and creative action puzzle game with a lot of heart. Although it seems rather short, it’s clear that a lot of thought and care went into creating this lovely world. Satisfying puzzles and excellent presentation are a big draw here, though let down by simplistic combat and an undeniably difficult and gameplay-affecting performance on Switch. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for fixes, and we’ll still give Figment 2 a recommendation, though you might want to wait for this one to go on sale.
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