Forma.8 is from the Italian indie developer MixedBag Games and takes on the Metroidvania action-adventure formula with the focus on exploration and puzzles. While their previous game Futuridium EP was a fast shoot’em up, Forma.8 has a much slower pace and tells the story of a little exploration probe that has crash-landed on a mysterious alien planet.
At the beginning, the little probe has no weapons or special abilities but as you progress through the adventure, you will gain lost skills to be able to reach further parts of the planet and also to fight against the more or less aggressive alien enemies. For example with the help of the shield you can tackle smaller aliens and when you have reactivated the bomb skill, you can combine these to attack larger foes. But handling of the bomb can be a bit tricky and needs some practice.
When you get attacked, Forma.8 will lose some energy but luckily, enemies leave behind white energy after defeat and with collecting it your energy bar refills again. Throughout the planet there’s also white energy to find to refill the energy bar but sometimes it can be wiser to just avoid the enemies and follow a more pacifistic way of exploration.
On your journey, you will find energy flowers which expand your life bar and also artefacts. By collecting these artefacts, you will be able to enhance the skills of the probe which will help you in later parts of the game. The alien planet also hides some secrets and although it’s not necessary to find them it’s a neat feature. Some parts of the world require puzzles to be solved and are a nice welcome to the exploration aspect.
You will also encounter various boss fights throughout the game which most of them are not too difficult but you will need some brain to defeat them. As the main focus lies on exploration, some areas are connected by teleports which reduces the time to get from one point to the other, especially in later parts of the game.
The graphic style of Forma.8, although very minimalistic, is absolutely beautiful. MixedBag Games has done an excellent job of bringing the world of the alien planet alive. Generally, the game runs very fluid on the PS Vita, only sometimes when you enter a new room or with lots of enemies on screen, the frame rate can stutter a bit, but it never hinders the gameplay. The atmospheric soundtrack adds a science fiction feel to the game and underlines the loneliness of the alien planet. Loading between areas takes a few seconds but it’s still acceptable.
While you explore the alien planet, the game gives you no information or clues. Only the map can give you some advice as it automatically unfolds as you progress. Unfortuantely, the map only shows the already visited parts and possible exits but no further details. A more detailed map than just blank squares for each area would have been better. The lack of explanation can lead to get stuck without knowing what to do next. Although the minimalistic approach of the game is understandable, in this case a bit more help would have been better.
Forma.8 is a beautiful exploration adventure with some neat puzzles and various boss fights. The lack of help and explanation can lead to frustration but despite this flaw, it’s still worth to visit the alien planet due to the awesome graphic and the atmospheric soundtrack.
The review was written and provided by Michael. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version.
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