Forma.8 is a unique action-adventure, exploration game developed and published by MixedBag. As a small exploration probe, you are stranded and separated from your companions on the surface of an alien planet. You are to find and recover a long lost, powerful energy source before it’s too late.
Forma.8 is appealing. It’s straight up nice to look at. I am a sucker for games with either simple, flat graphics, or pixelated graphics. The whole of Forma.8 has beautifully hand-drawn vector graphics, from the characters and enemies, to the cutscenes, to the level design.
You play as a small probe, whose mission is to explore an alien planet. The probe slowly glides around using abilities that you pick up through the game. These abilities are linked to the main buttons on the controller (PS4). A small area-of-effect knockback ability on the X button. A small mine for destroying rocks and defeating enemies on the Square button. More abilities may be gained throughout the game, increasing the different amount of attacks and combos usable. One is simply using the knockback on the mine, creating an exploding projectile.
Fighting enemies isn’t a big part in this game. Enemies are clearly shown by the small red light coming from somewhere on their bodies, almost like an eye. There are smaller enemies that jump at you from the ground, or flying enemies that follow you until they are defeated or they cannot reach you. Further into the game are enemies that can spawn other enemies, or underwater enemies that make it harder to use abilities against. Forma.8 also includes bosses. One boss, is represented as a large plant, sort of like the Mario Piranha Plant, but it shoots fireballs as an attack, where you have to dodge and use other surrounding enemies to your advantage.
Onto the graphics again. They’re all hand-drawn, which is an incredible feat for a game in my opinion. It’s much like the games Basion and Jotun, both hand drawn, and both look amazing. The background colours are always different too. The walls and ceilings of the maps are completely black, with the background shining through the cracks of the rocks, with the bright colours to signify yourself and the enemies. These kinds of graphics and colours work well with the style of game as it fits with where you are in the story. For example, when fighting the first boss, the background is a dark red to orange gradient, as if it’s an intense moment, whereas starting the game is a light, yellow/blue gradient as it’s calmer at this point in the game. The slight glow of the probes eyes and trail against the darker backgrounds makes it easier to find yourself and see what you’re doing. The whole game, by look, is just appealing. One thing, that may not be liked by many, is the lack of tutorial/information. There are no indicators on how to move at the start of the game. Though it is pretty obvious on how to move with a controller, it would have been nice to have some kind of indicator for players who need it. The game shows how to use your abilities if you hold down L1 (PS4). This brings up an overlay with a map covering the screen, the number of pickups you have collected, and how to use your abilities.
The sounds of the game are like the rest, simple. The game’s music are soft, symphonic tunes, almost shrouded in mystery. It adds to the calmer moments of the game, where there’s nothing to worry about and it’s just exploration, it gives a nice sound to the gameplay. The knockback and mine abilities both have distinct sounds so you know if they are used, if they have missed, or if they have hit an enemy.
My overall opinion of this game it that it’s simple. As said a lot before, it’s made very simply, but very well. There are beautiful, catching graphics, with the quiet but mysterious sounds, all mixed into a well made story. If you were to purchase this game, know that there is a lot of exploration, so there is no wrong turn to take. I’d rate this a 9 out of 10, as there really aren’t many bad things about the game, other than personal genre tastes.
Forma.8 was reviewed on the PlayStation 4, the game is also available on PSVita, Xbox One, PC and Wii U