Forma.8 is a classic example of learning from the best, which its Metroid style gameplay. You start off with a bare minimum of abilities as well as very few places to access. As you gradually unlock new abilities (which happens at a decent speed here) then you can track back into areas you couldn’t go before. It’s a time tested game flow that works incredibly well.
The story is very minimalistic, almost left to the player’s imagination. You are a robot who has been sent down by a space ship on to a nearby planet. With no real clue as to the purpose you set out to attain your end goal… a goal which is not the most clear. Indeed, there are quite a few things to collect but it’s never immediately apparent as to what is what. You don’t know your objective, you just wander around looking to make it to the next area.
I get a few vibes from this game from my previous reviews. Obviously the visual style brings back thoughts of games like Star Sky as well as Toby: The Secret Mine with its silhouetted foreground contrasting against the beautiful colourful background. It’s very gorgeous for the most part, although I do wish more time was spent outside than in caves or abandoned facilities since these are quite a lot less interesting. But it’s in these places where the gameplay is the strongest.
As you guide your little probe through the often cramped environments, you’ll notice that the controls are heavily physics based. Your movement has a lot of momentum so even if you stop pressing forward, you’ll continue a good way until you come to a halt. Managing your movement is key as hazards and enemies populate the planet no end. Steadying yourself to get the right shot or pass through narrow crevices without pinballing all over the place can be an actual challenge at times.
As in classic Metroidvania style, there’s a huge over world map to explore but you can only access certain parts until you unlock more abilities. It’s actually one of the more linear examples of the genre though since it does seem to guide you from place to place pretty well. Despite that it is ostensibly a mystery. It’s slightly too mysterious for its own good. Puzzles and boss fight techniques aren’t always immediately apparent. Everything is quite obscure which is both a blessing and a curse. When you figure something out by yourself you feel good but then at times you feel like you’re doing random things, or you’re somehow disconnected from the actual game, as though you’re an outsider and the game won’t let you in. It has its plus points, for sure, but a little explanation here and there would have been nice. The map isn’t particularly useful, nor is anything else that’s displayed there. There are icons for sure, but figure their meanings out for yourselves!
As you slunk around the world and environments you’ll bump into fallen comrades once in a while, from whom you can salvage a new ability. The first ability you get is an attack which is basically a small energy burst around your craft, dealing minimal damage. Then after that you get bomb you can plant or shoot awkwardly via your first attack, and the game progresses as such in this way. Each new ability lets you reach new places and solve previously unsolvable puzzles. It’s pretty standard for the genre.
Forma.8 is a surprisingly difficult game. A lot of it is down to the aforementioned movement which is fair, as you get around half way through the game, enemies become more and more numerous. I often found myself being downed by enemies through their sheer numbers as they each drain a bit of your health. You can take them out with carefully timed attacks and bombs but they have respawn points. They too can be destroyed, but doing that while trying to dodge the already spawned enemies and you’ll no doubt take some damage. You can regain health though by collecting orbs after defeating them, and can be picked up from the environment which helps a lot. The big difficulty spikes are when you need to be quick and precise in your movements. If you’re on a timer or are being chased by something, it’s these cases where any lack of perfection means failure and having to try again and again. Normally in games these segments are fine, but due to awkward movement in Forma.8, it’s actually quite frustrating.
One of the things I loved about Forma.8 is the sound design. It’s very atmospheric and tense, it suits the theme so well.
Overall, maybe this review hasn’t been the most enthusiastic, but it shouldn’t be taken that way. I wouldn’t say Forma.8 is a definite recommendation but you can’t really go wrong with it. It’s a classic example of a Metroidvania style game but with a much slower pace. It’s probably better than average for the genre despite a few grievances I have with it, particularly in regards to its un-involving obtuseness and sharp difficulty spikes when it comes to quick, precise movement. The cheap price too, means it’s difficult to say no to. The visual style and music are great and all round has a fantastic eerie atmosphere to it. I just wish it would let you in more.
Game provided by Mixed Bag