forma.8 is a Metroidvania action adventure style exploration game with stylised visuals and a rich vast open world of caverns and wonders to explore. With nothing but your own sense of adventure, players must explore and discover the mysteries of an alien planet.
In forma.8 players take control of a small planetary probe of the same name which crash-lands on an alien planet shortly after being deployed from the mothership. Alone and separated from its companions the probe sets off to find its robotic buddies with nothing guiding its way other than a sense of exploring the unknown.
To begin with, the story is thin on the ground and offers very little in the way of a narrative; though I suspect this is deliberate. Together forma.8 and I embarked on a journey of discovery, mystery and intrigue. The very lack of a storyline is what prompted me to continue playing. The lack of prompts forces the player to explore and to tackle puzzles in different ways to see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll spend a lot of time in caverns and tight corridors navigating what feels like a maze of twist and turns. While the game saves automatically diamond shaped checkpoints signal that you’re moving in the right direction – but these are few and far between which adds to the factor of unknowing.
As you venture forward you’ll encounter a number of fallen probes, each with their spirit hovering protectively above their discarded shells. These encounters allow forma.8 to gain a new ability to help explore the alien terrain. Due to the lack of tutorial MixedBag offer a trial by fire so to speak adding in situational encounters which require the player to use the newly acquired ability. In addition to the new abilities, there are a number of collectables dotted around the world; collecting enough allows forma.8 to upgrade making him faster, stronger and better suited on and under the surface of this hostile world.
Graphically forma.8 is fairly simple, but this simplicity is what makes it so visually striking. Stark blacks are offset by bright oranges, reds and pinks. Vibrant blues and stunning greens. While deep underground there’s a sense of oppressing darkness while moving toward the surface there’s a significant change in the ambience. Though even the vast open skies and eerie stillness in the air conveys a sense of isolation much like when below the surface, the team at MixedBag has done a fantastic job of making you feel alone.
Although a relaxing adventure there are moments where forma.8 will be forced to play the offensive card. The game plays host to a number of smaller enemies as well boss battles. Plant-like creatures hang from the ceilings of caverns spawning flying enemies with glowing pink or red points while faster moving aliens launch themselves from walls when you least expect it. Boss battles have been well thought out and offer variety throughout the game. Each has their own weakness and strengths but is not always initially clear – thinking out of the box is paramount and I found myself being defeated a number of times before the tactics became clear.
Forma.8 does a fantastic job at getting the player to explore the world that MixedBag has created. Every nook and cranny have something to offer and those who are willing to take the time to investigate will be rewarded. Visually the game is stunning and it’s art style really brings the world to life. Granted, there’s not too much story but the exploration is what makes the game enjoyable and will keep pulling you back.