It’s all in your head
I’ve always been interested in Psychology. What we say, what we do, how we think — I find questions like that are so fun to look into . Because of that, it probably isn’t difficult to image that I was intrigued by Figment. A game that attempts to cleverly deal with the many intricacies of the human mind? And, on top of that, it’s based around music? Heck yes, I am in!
Maybe I shouldn’t have been as interested in it as I was. I had a right to be cautious; there have been several games in the last few years which initially piqued my interest, only to let me down when I actually played them. That wasn’t the case when I played Figment, though! Or rather, a demo version of Figment. To be fair, I didn’t get to see everything in the game. Actually, I didn’t get to see most things in the game. But what I did see, however, was more than enough to hook me.
Figment opens with what is essentially a young girl and her parents getting in a car crash. The real narrative (of the demo, at least), however, begins afterward, when you are transported to an area which I am assuming is the young girl’s brain. The story begins with a blue creature by the name of Dusty, taking a nap outside in his rocking chair. Asleep and enjoying the nice weather, Dusty’s relaxation is soon interrupted by a bird-like creature named Piper. Although Piper urges him to get a move on, as they have some business to attend to, Dusty is more concerned with finding ice cubes for his drink. And since you’re controlling Dusty, alcoholism reigns supreme over heroism. At first, anyway.
Things are kind of hard to get a grasp on after the beginning. This is largely due to the fact that the demo jumps around to different levels, most likely in order to give the player a better sense of what the game is about. I’m still not entirely sure who, or even what Dusty and Piper are. I did gather, however, that this is a game all about the human mind. Or more specifically, all about dealing with the insecurities that all of us have. Enemies took the form of personal fears. Obstacles and landscapes were based on perception and types of thinking. Every problem in the game is relevant to a real-world problem, many of which a lot of us have. The story visualizes how one might overcome personal hangups. And it’s all done in a very clever and engaging way.
An Existential Adventure
Fragment‘s story may be difficult to explain, but it’s gameplay isn’t. How many of you out there know what Bastion is, or, better yet, have played it? Most of you? Good. Yeah, okay, it plays kind of similarly to that. Fragment is essentially a 3D, top-down, isometric game with a large focus on adventure and puzzle-solving. Much of the game revolves around you making your way through various parts of the brain, solving any problems that may arise. Unlike with Bastion however, most of these problems are puzzles. A large amount of my time revolved around finding items, and strategically using them in order to pave the way forward. None of the puzzles were particularly difficult, but they were fun.
I’m also particularly impressed with how each individual area reflects a specific part of our cognitive processes. The creative-centric Freedom Isles were lush and vibrant , while Clockwork Town — the logical part of the mind — was more machine-oriented. These areas, like most other parts of the game, seem to be very pertinent to what is being dealt with. And they look nice, too!f
Much of Fragment‘s gameplay revolves around exploring, but rest assured — there is combat. I mean how else are you going to fight your fears? There actually isn’t a whole lot to say about combat though, as it’s rather basic. You’re able to perform a basic attack, a charged-up spin attack, and dodge-roll. That’s it. At least, for now. I could see a higher level of complexity being added in the full version of the game — maybe through levels or power-ups — but combat isn’t the real focus of the game. Gameplay is more centered around identifying and solving problems. And thusly, combat doesn’t need to be all that in-depth.
I could liken playing through the demo of Figment to having a particularly interesting dream. It was entertaining, fleeting, and left me wanting to know more about what I had just experienced. I very much appreciated its take on the human mind, as well as its approach to real-life problems in a way that was both whimsical and, at times, morbid. Figment is slated to release sometime this summer, and honestly it’s an adventure that I’m really looking forward to.