Everyone wants the little guys to do well don’t they? Small indie developers taking on the leviathans of the gaming industry, all competing for your hard-earned cash. Well I can tell you now, the guys at Mixed Bag, who consist of only seven people by the way, have made a fantastic game that is deserving of your money.
Forma.8 is a 2D metroidvania style of game. You take control of a probe known as Forma.8, who has been tasked with exploring a new world with a few other probe companions. Unfortunately, something goes wrong and you crash-land onto this alien planet. Once you reboot after the crash, you realise that you are alone. It is now up to you to unravel the intriguing mystery of what happened on this desolate, lonely world.
Once awoken, you now control the probe who effortlessly glides around the map, looking to explore. You come across one of your companions that has since broken down, but this broken down probe, leaves you the ability to defend yourself with a pulse shield, that you absorb. This pulse shield to begin with, is your only line of defence and means of attack, against the strange aliens that inhabit the world. If you are hit by one of these creatures, you lose energy, this however can be replaced by absorbing the blue orbs of power, either left behind after an enemy is killed, or one that is randomly placed throughout the world.
Now, to begin with, Forma.8 starts off a little slow. There isn’t really any communication of what is happening in terms of story. It really is left up to you to find out. It carries on like this for a while but if you persevere, you will be rewarded. Good things, come to those who wait!
The movement of your probe is momentum based. This can be a bit of a blessing and a curse. Later in the game when you gain the ability to drop pulse mines and using your pulse shield, fire them at enemies. However, being able to aim where you actually want your mines to go, whilst avoiding an enemy is a bit tricky. This can be very frustrating at times but strangely also rewarding when you finally pull off that shot and your mine glides its way into the face of unsuspecting enemy. This also goes for the boss battles which are really intense. The bosses are varied in terms of their attacks and really break up the gameplay nicely. Just when you get bored of searching around in the dark corner of the map, you’ll bump into a boss fight that really ramps up the action.
Forma.8 is possibly one of the best games I have played for the use of its visual presentation. The landscapes are beautiful. They really add a sense of scale and to they give off the feeling of really being alone and vulnerable on an alien world. In some of the bigger areas, your probe really is a tiny black dot just floating around in the landscape. These bigger scenes really make you want to explore more of this forgotten world. Couple this with the brilliant sound design and Forma.8 really will blow you away; from when your probe makes the satisfying ‘plop’ into the water, to the occasional scrape of the body of your probe against a wall, to the empty echoes of crumbling ruins, to the lively and animated electronic soundtrack when you encounter a boss. All of these, really add up and create a fantastic atmosphere.
Forma.8 is a great indie game. Although, the story is a bit slow to start with and the momentum based aiming/movement system can be a little tricky, Forma.8 is one of those games that will have you intrigued and wanting to find out more. With its stunningly beautiful visuals and atmospheric sound design, I found that I just couldn’t put it down. The probe resonated with me in a way that I didn’t think possible. The probe is completely expressionless, but I somehow became attached to it the further I progressed in the game. Maybe there is a metaphor in Forma.8 somewhere, about how small and insignificant we are compared the vast wide world out there. In my opinion, a great indie game has a metaphor like that buried deep within itself.
Scratch one up for Indie developers because Mixed Bag really have pulled it out of the bag with this one. Give them your hard-earned cash immediately and download this game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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