It’s not every day you get tossed into an unknown planet. Many games have tried to do it. So has Forma.8’s port for the Nintendo Switch succeeded where others have not?
For those who are familiar with the Metroidvania action-adventure games, Forma.8 would instantly feel like home. Yet Forma.8 has much more to offer. After the initial cutscene and without much of a tutorial, you are immediately thrown into a vast environment to explore. There is very little handholding. As a floating exploration probe, your job is… that is something you have to find out yourself… really. I even went through most of the game not totally sure what some of the items I’ve collected are for. There are no mission checklists to follow, there are no specific mission objectives, all there is, is for the explorer in you to run wild. And that is one of the many beauties of Forma.8, the free unconstrained room for exploration.
Plus, MixedBag did a really good job with making exploration frustration free. While the drone itself does not travel fast (unless you apply the occasional boost), the power to unlock shortcuts in the map allows easy access to explored areas. In fact, it is good to re-explore certain areas to find things that you might have missed or access areas previously inaccessible.
Yet that is not to say aimless exploration is all there is for the game. Those itching for puzzles will find their fair share of puzzles. Those itching for boss fights will also find mini-bosses littered around the map. Sometimes the enemies and puzzles can be tough and challenging, and it is not unusual to find yourself being unsure of what to do. The clues given in the game is somewhat a hit and miss sometimes. Still, the game provides much room for trial and error, limiting the frustration you might feel when you repeat the same boss fight again and again.
While the control scheme is relatively simple – there are no difficult button combinations to memorise – the floaty-drifty movements of the probe can take a bit to get used to; oversteering can be a problem. The high inertia of the probe means that aiming bombs can sometimes be a little difficult, especially in later boss fights. Maintaining control of the probe is not alway easy but some might find it tougher than others.
The Nintendo Switch port of the game also brought some unique joy-con features. One of it is the rumble feature. While I’m not quite sure if it was done on purpose, but Forma.8’s rumble feature really took me by surprise, especially when detonating a bomb. The combined effect to the subtle rumble and screeching sound effect gave a super realistic metallic shockwave feel, something that initially made the hairs on my arms stand.
Art and Music
To call Forma.8’s art style beautiful is an understatement. Forma.8 is more of art first, game second. The camera intelligently toggles to show a canvas of colours and along with its ambient music, gives a mix bags of feelings depending on the scene. The first time you exit the claustrophobic tunnels into the wide-open, a gasp of scale and size will put you in awe, something not commonly seen in games nowadays.
Alongside the stunning environments, the variable palette of colours feeds into the game’s main objective of exploration. Almost every new scene differs greatly from the previous and you will never get bored of the ever-changing themes. It is almost as if the game is one big art gallery and you are there as an observer to enjoy it as you make your way to the end.
For those of you who might have played Forma.8 on the other platforms such as PC, Mobile or even the Wii U, I’ll be hard pressed to recommend the same game to you again. However, Switch gamers that have never played the game before should definitely try it. At US$9.99, it is hard to go wrong with this piece of art. Though not flawless, its gorgeous art style along with its brilliant use of rumble and music definitely makes up for it. Even people sceptical about indie titles or 2D games are sure to enjoy this beautiful exploration game.
- Gorgeous graphics
- Brilliant atmosphere/ambience creation
- Huge content for low price
- Encourages exploration, trial and error, without much frustration
- High Inertia of probe needs quite a bit to get used to
- Cues on specific ways of taking down bosses/puzzles not always obvious
Verdict: A soup so beautiful and tasty that it just makes you want to lick it clean!
forma.8 is now available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
A review code was provided by MixedBag for the purpose of this review.