Figment 2: Creed Valley review: a fun musical adventure a beat behind its predecessor
Play the music, maestro
I really enjoyed the first Figment when it released back in 2017. An action-platformer with a musical theatre twist using the human mind as its stage? Very creative! Bedtime Studios’ follow-up Figment 2: Creed Valley keeps very close to the beat of the first one. You don’t need to have played Figment 1 to enjoy this sequel, but I almost feel like you’d be missing you if you didn’t (especially as it’s free on Steam right now, for today only).
Figment 2 has all the visual flair and catchy sing-songs of the first, but it feels weirdly smaller. Both games will run you about 5 hours each, but Figment 2 is a little less punchy, a little less diverse, and feels more like an encore rather than a dazzling comeback album. That’s not necessarily bad; I love an encore, and I enjoyed seeing more of Figment's surreal, subconscious mind-world. But, yeah, it’s very much the same as the first game, but with less scope and fewer fart clouds.
Dusty and Piper are back too - two pals who act as protectors of the weird world of the human mind. The duo's double act is sweet-and-sour: Dusty is brash, loose-mouthed, and fancies himself a stand-up comic, whereas bird companion Piper is enthusiastic and optimistic. The last game saw the pair chasing down nightmares, and this time is no different. The moral compass - a giant, physical timepiece at the centre of The Mind - has been shattered, and the two believe a lanky two-headed jester running amok is behind it. Dusty and Piper travel to Creed Valley to restore the compass and put a stop to The Mind’s corruption.
With wooden sword in hand, the action platforming in Figment is pretty breezy. You run and dodge around groups of make-believe creatures and bonk them on the head until they poof into a handful of HP orbs. Sometimes you might have to whack a missile back with a well-timed swipe, but generally this is very much a hack 'em and slash 'em. For the first hour or two it's pretty satisfying, but enemy designs - themed loosely on fireworks and robots - get repetitive pretty quickly. Getting blocked off in a small area, with the same four enemy types with no interesting variety or development, is a loop that gets tiresome. There is a fun mini-boss where you have to run up their weapon and bonk them on the noggin, but after the six, seventh and eighth encounters the fun has completely worn away.
The puzzles, however, are pretty neat. Usually, it’s a case of putting coloured light bulbs in their respective sockets in the right order, but often you’ll get an entire screen dedicated to one platforming mechanical contraption, and making your way through is like moving through a cool puzzle box. Other puzzles are more open, where you'll need to explore an entire area, whacking leavers from ‘open minded’ to ‘close minded’ to make the environment dramatically shift around you.
The best parts of Figment, though, are the boss fights, which are a combination of brawling, puzzle-solving, and bombastic musical numbers. These showdowns are the highlight of the game, but they are few are far between in Figment 2. There are other musical numbers, including a slow ballad and a comical choir chorus, but they're not boss fights. Every theatre lover knows that the villain songs are the best, and the way that Figment couples these with clashes of combat is brilliant. Your first foray into the game drops you right into one, as a giant nightmare bull with its own rock anthem stomps around a stage trying to bulldoze you to the sound of shredding guitars. It's awesome! The closing song is also a banger (which I won’t spoil here, but is an incredible showdown of colour and song). From the first Figment’s trio of evil maestros down to Figment 2’s solo villain, I just wanted more evil songs that I could witch-cackle to.
I feel like I’ve not properly sung Figment 2's praises enough, so here's a ditty dedicated to the game’s other best feature: its world design. I always wanna give props to any game that creates its own universe from scratch, and Figment’s story-book art style and world design are gorgeous. The world is filled with fun little interactions, like a bridge made out of playable piano keys, booming bongos planted in the ground, and pencil stairs that make the most satisfying sound as you patter across them.
Each area is beautifully realised in a painterly style built around a theme, kinda similarly to Psychonauts. Creed Valley is made from colourful stone building blocks that shift and move around, like a visual depiction of a thinking mind. There’s the ethics maze, which is a grand golden hall filled with flying books, puzzle platforms, and riddle-like quandaries. The pocket area below the maze, where humanoid ‘discarded opinions’ have fallen down, is a dark cavern with black marble floors and weird luminescent blue lamps that sprout from the floor like mushrooms. So much creativity has gone into this game’s world.
Figment 2’s humour and tone match its visuals - its vibe is very 'Saturday morning cartoon' - but as much as I like running around bashing things as Dusty, I’d rather he focus more on the mission in hand than churning his brain for quippy remarks that would make Joss Whedon and Michael Scott giggle. Yeah, he’s annoying but, like the game’s overall vibe honestly, its humour feels like it's specifically for younger players. “Just another day in the office,” Dusty smugly remarks for the second time in the space of an hour, and as I breathe out a deep, exasperated sigh I can just imagine some kid giggling at the quip.
Speaking of kids, if you’re after a family-friendly co-op game, then Figment 2 is perfect. It's the one thing that it does better than its predecessor. Piper as a Player 2 character is really just a controllable balloon that follows Dusty around, and because she’s flying, she’s out of harm's way from enemy fire. This doesn’t mean she's pointless though, as she can gather HP while Player 1 handles all the fighting and movement. She’s the perfect character for those who’d like to play co-op but don’t want the pressures of scuffling with enemies or quick button inputs.
Figment 2 is an overall solid game, but it’s just a shame that it feels like second violin to Figment 1. Even so, getting to peer inside the minds of the folk over at Bedtime again is always a treat. Playing Figment 2 solo is fun enough, but if you're after a fun co-op game with a young player 2 in mind, then it's a great shout.