The is More Than Meets the Eye “forma.8”
By Jessica Brown On 25 Aug, 2017 At 01:48 PM | Categorized As Featured, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, PC Games, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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  • TITLE: forma.8
  • DEVELOPER: MixedBag
  • PUBLISHER: MixedBag
  • GENRE: Action-Adventure/Metroidvania
  • PLATFORM: Nintendo Switch
  • ALSO ON: PS4, XB1, Wii U, iOS, Android, & PC
  • RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2017
  • PRICE: $9.99 US (eShop)

forma.8 made its way onto a whole slew of platforms earlier this year, but until receiving a copy of the game to cover for the Nintendo Switch it was a title I’d never heard of. In large part, that’s because forma.8 made its debut at a time when I was large “AFK” from the gaming space for various reasons. However, now that I am aware of this game, I have to say that I wish I had known about it sooner!

At first glance, the game would have seemed somewhat forgettable to me. The title is certainly strange and glancing at the title screen really didn’t tell me that much about the game. It’s one of those situations, though, where it’s best not to judge a book by its cover. With forma.8, it’s best to just fire it up and give it a shot because, most likely, within the first 5 or 10 minutes you’ll be captivated by its simple-yet-complex nature and feel compelled to push onwards into its strange world.

The game puts you in the role of a planetary exploration probe called “forma.8,” separated from your companions when you are shot onto the surface of an alien world. According to the game’s official description, you are searching for a powerful energy source of some kind, though this is not immediately apparent to you. In fact, there’s really not much in the way of backstory outside of a narrative-less opening cinematic, so for a while, it’s up to you to piece together what’s actually going on here.

Regardless, you start your journey with nothing more than the ability to fly around, yet as you push forward you will slowly find keys, special items, and new upgrades that are, rather cryptically, learned from the wrecked remains of some of your fallen allies. For instance, in the first couple of minutes of actual play, you’ll gain the ability to create an energy pulse that can help you interact with certain items as well as damage enemies that you’ll encounter. Not too long after that, you’ll also pick up an ability to drop a bomb that can destroy certain barriers, cause a lot more damage, and can even be directed at targets through the careful use of the pulse ability.

The game is certainly a unique take on the tried-and-true Metroidvania formula. While there are some areas that are fairly linear, the game presents you with several options of where you can go next, opening up even further to you once you possess certain key abilities, making backtracking all the more important later on. You have a basic grid-style map that will show you which “room” you are in and how that room connects with other nearby locations, though as is typical in the genre it’s up to you to remember what is in these different rooms and where you might need to return to later on.

Although the actual gameplay and controls feel relatively simplistic, there’s a lot of nuanced maneuvers you’ll have to master fairly quickly in the game. Also, there are some clever (and deadly!) enemies that you’ll have to face, some of which require some thought in how you can best defeat them. The massive plant boss that you face in the volcano area, for example, will quickly kill you unless you figure out how you can actually cause it harm (and the solution is quite clever too). The probe also has fairly limited health, so you’ll certainly want to take your time and be aware of your surroundings or else death will come quite swiftly to you.

Perhaps forma.8‘s charm lies in its deceitfully-simplistic style. The graphics and artwork are pretty minimalistic and the soundtrack also has a lot of simple background tunes. In a way, I find the music (other than the tense boss theme, which is really good though) to be best described as “chill,” because it’s very laid back and relaxing to listen to. Even if you are in an area that has a couple of tense moments to it, the music can often contrast fairly-starkly to it in a way that actually works. It helps keep you level-headed and in the moment, yet it encourages you to stop for a moment and take in the atmosphere around you.

One of the things that the Nintendo Switch always has going for it is its ability to be enjoyed both on your TV or on the go. When torn about which version of a game to pick up, this flexibility and ability to be enjoyed in multiple different locations can often serve as a tie-breaker. forma.8 does indeed look pretty on a large screen, but it’s also the type of game that would be fun to play on the couch, relaxing before bed, or taking it on a trip with you. Unlike some titles where the scope and cinematic feel may feel slightly lessened while in portable mode, forma.8 feels like it fits the bill of being excellent no matter which way you wish to enjoy it.

It’s also worth pointing out that although this is certainly a Metroidvania style game, casual players should not be put off from giving it a go. There are indeed some difficult sections of it, but it is a game that is fairly forgiving. Death is most certainly not permanent (and I’d argue that you’re expected to die many times before you complete the game) and in most cases only sets you back a couple of minutes. In my experience, death in forma.8 is mainly a learning experience and something that you grow from and improve your skills and knowledge with.

So, if you have a Nintendo Switch and are looking for some more enjoyable games to play while you wait for more major releases later this year (such as Super Mario Odyssey and the second round of DLC for Zelda: Breath of the Wild), forma.8 is definitely a title that you should consider picking up. Honestly, for just $9.99 USD on the eShop, you really can’t go wrong with this one. And, if you already own the title on the PC or another platform, the Switch version will have the ability to be played on the go, so picking up a second copy might not be a bad idea either!

*Review code provided by the publisher*

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