There are few games that really achieve that sense of isolation and loneliness as well as forma.8 did. At the same time, it also grasps this unique sense of exploration. Not only are you searching through the unknown, but you’re trying to survive and conquer it.
Forma.8 looks and feels like an indie game. It’s got minimalist textures, while still managing to build a fantastic looking, and interesting world. You can find yourself in a deep, dark cave, or a magma filled cavern, even a futuristic base, all with a unique feel to them. Although this kind of simple yet fleshed out graphical design seems to be a commonly recurring theme throughout indie games, forma.8 does well to carve its own little niche. The environments are interesting to explore, the color palettes are nice, and the lighting consistently looks nice throughout the game.
The controls are a bit uncomfortable at first. Much like walking on ice in other games, the game feels kind of slippery and weird in a sense. However, after a while, the momentum based flight physics begins to feel like second nature. You go from awkwardly clanging against the walls every time you enter a room, to gracefully floating around like a butterfly. At first this is the only control you have of your robot. After searching for fallen robots, you begin to find different upgrades. These of course open up different mechanics to the game and give it a strong sense of progress. In the beginning, you’re pushing over a box, fast forward, you’re smashing bombs across the map and attacking giant spiders. From a humble beginning, with some finesse and upgrades, you start to feel pretty comfortable with the controls.
The story for the game is left up to interpretation, as the majority of the narrative comes from the opening cutscene. It seems you’re one of many robots created, and you’re sent in alone to a hostile, almost abandoned feeling planet, to search for something. But what I got was something much different. I didn’t focus too much on my objective or anything, but more that sense of exploration, and honestly, the sense of being completely alone. I spent my time exploring while trying to understand and “solve the mystery” of the planet. The ambient sounds and spanning environments just give you this feeling of isolation. The only things that breaks up this silence is the distinctly glowing red enemies that you’ll face at times. The exploration of the game is oddly satisfying yet frustrating at time. You’ll send time circling around a map section endlessly, only to realize that you won’t be able to get through until much later with a new ability. It’s the kind of backtracking that is painstaking. With the beginning movement speed being relatively slow feeling, it can leave those previously interesting environments feeling somewhat stale. Luckily a movement speed upgrade later on, helps quite a bit.
The overarching gameplay for this can be considered an action/puzzle blend. There is a fair bit of varying combat, but I feel the majority of it is searching for solutions for differing problems while exploring the environment. The combat in itself is puzzle like, with each enemy having weakness to parts of the environment as well as your abilities. I think a perfect illustration of this is the “basic” enemy. It’s a small blob with a glowing red light, that jumps at you with spikes. Your first ability, a small force field is enough to beat it. It jumps at you, and with good timing, you can simply smack it back down to the ground. However, if it lands in water, it can become quite pathetically stuck floating on the top of it. Not only were the enemies unique, but so were the bosses. The bosses I encountered were interesting fights with a puzzle-like mechanic required to beat them.
Overall, I had a good time playing this game. I first played it sitting at my desktop and played it with my keyboard and mouse. After spending some time at my desk, I found the game to be much more enjoyable sitting back with a controller and relaxing. This is definitely a comfy game. It’s perfect for sitting back on your couch, turning off your lights, and just exploring this unique game. As I have gotten this game very recently, I was not able to finish it. But that being said, from what I played, I enjoyed quite a bit, and will definitely love to revisit in the future. For all these reasons, I’m giving the game a 7.5. Congratulations to Mixed Bag studios with the release of this new title!
Release Date - February 23, 2017
Special thanks to Mixedbag Games for providing a review code