As the main character, Forma 8, you are a small probe which has been sent to another planet. Your mission was simple, scan the planet and find out a bit more about it. On the way you crash land and you are alone in an Alien world. You are but a tiny little round bot in this place full of wonderment and danger. You were not made to fight but you will need to find ways of getting through expanses without succumbing to the inhabitants of this world. The game is all about exploration and as you explore this world you start to uncover more about what this place is.
The audio here compliments the graphical style perfectly. The music is very very subtle and calming but it ramps up when there is looming danger. The music in this game is just perfect for the subject matter. The sound effects are especially good, when collecting the energy for Forma 8 to raise your health bar, for example, is a blissful collection of piano notes going up the scale the more you collect in a row. It is the way the little alien creatures make a noise when they are coming towards you or the way the jelly fish sound when they emit their electrical attack. All little things which add to the overall experience. The best compliment I can pay this is the fact nothing feels out of place, it all just flows and works, amassing to a beautiful audio and visual feast to create an intoxicating atmosphere.
I want to say straight off the bat that visuals in my view are absolutely stunning. I would go as far as to say exquisite in my opinion. This game just reminds me so much of Another World when it released on the Amiga 500 back in the day. Very similar type of artwork, which I like. The use of shadows is just pure brilliance in this game, the way the subtle lighting effects create depth to, what is essentially, a 2D game. I really admire the way the background is full of differing objects and colours to depict, what is noticeably, an Alien world. The way the probe has a little trail of light emitting from it and how you are alerted to impending demise as the colour of this light changes when your probe is close to death. Or how when you drop a mine a little line of light tells you what direction the mine will fly in if you hit it with your shield. Everything is so sublte but so detailed at the same time. The way the Camera pans out sometimes to show large open spaces makes you feel so small in a huge expanse. I could go on and on but I think for a 2-person development team they have executed the visuals in my view to perfection.
Gameplay is essentially about manoeuvring Forma 8 through a number of zones and narrow passageways in a MetroidVania-type game style. Forma 8 feels just delightful to control. The way you glide the little probe using its energy in the way of a little thruster. Of course, if you want to stop yourself banging into walls you will need to control your thruster by turning your little probe in the opposite direction. The controls are extremely simple. During the first few moments of the game you will absorb a component from another probe which has been totalled. You can use this new-found power to fire off, what I can only describe as, an outward shield which only lasts, what seems like, the blink of an eye. You can use this to ward off anything which comes towards you. Or, if you time it perfectly, you will be able to destroy a few of the creatures with one or 2 sheild hits.
You will later on also get a mine which you can leave hanging around for it to explode which is useful to bring down walls to reach new areas, find secrets or despatch enemies. What’s really cool is you can use your little shield to bounce the mine off you so you can dispatch it to hit enemies further away from you in case you don’t fancy a close combat. Later on you will also get a speed dash. You will also want to keep an eye out for the collectables in the game for some nice little secrets which I will not spoil.
You will come across small puzzles which, although uncomplicated, work really well in this style of game. Then you get some puzzles which will have you scratching your head and you get to some areas where you have to move things about and these were my lease favoured part of the game.
There are also speed dash parts to the game where you have to light a number of lights in a certain amount of time to get a collectable for example and I enjoyed these quite a bit and it’s great that there was this amount of variety to what at first seems a super simple game.
I have often said that in games I don’t like sign posting and I am of the mindset that I like to work things out for myself. However, I have also said that there is a happy medium to be found. I can see many getting frustrated, as this games answers are not immediately obvious. For some that will be a blessing and for others it will be a turn off. There is no real tutorial except for a few buttons which you are told to press at the very beginning and other than that you really do have to work everything out on your own. What I did find difficult at times is finding out what to do next or where to go. You will come across parts of the game that you cannot access and it will force you to backtrack because you either missed something or simply just went the wrong way. I do feel this could have been managed a little better and is my only real cristism as the mini map for example is not that helpful and you will get lost and confused when backtracking through the many tunnels.
The bosses themselves can also be considered a puzzle, the ways that you think at first to beat them is often not the way at all and you will really have to think outside of the box and at first it’s quite frustrating as you need to find the answer. The satisfaction you get when you do work it out on your own, without resorting to any guide, is tremendous though.
The enemies in Forma 8 are dangerous and they engage when you get close enough,the thing is if you do they will go all out to kill you and follow you around. Your aim here is to explore first and kill when you have too and when you do these enemies will always drop energy for your probe to recover. It seemed to be that the enemies were more inquisitive in nature at first but they get really deadly later and there will be all sorts nasties which are insect in nature to take you down. There also environmental hazards like shooting lava in the lava stage or shooting ice crystals in the ice looking stage.Your probe has a health bar and you also have a mini map which you can bring up when you need too but I never really found the map that useful. Finding a checkpoint will replenish your energy and if you die you will respawn at the check point, which is welcome as you will die a few times. The game is challenging but more in a sense of having to be persistent to find the answers you are looking for.
The game is set to be priced at £8.99 UK and $9.99 in US and 9.99 Euros. I think for what you get this is a very fairly priced game. This is an exploration game which will take you some time to complete. Even when you do, I am sure you will have missed some areas and secrets and I would say the second time around will be worth playing through to uncover the many secrets this game has hidden in it.