When forma.8 is sent to explore a surreal alien planet the little exploration probe soon becomes alarmed when, after successfully punching through the atmosphere, its trajectory sees it slam into a towering structure. Stranded alone from where the other probes had safely landed, it jolts itself back into action and, somewhat tenaciously, chooses to press on with its mission – to recover a powerful energy source that is located beneath the planet’s surface.
Soon coming across wrecked probes that came before it, forma.8 recovers their powers to stand a fighting chance at seeing its mission through. It isn’t long before you find the shield, which is the most adaptable power at your disposal. This can protect you, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. When activated it unleashes a discharge that sends a shockwave around the timid probe, damaging and knocking back any enemies that it comes into contact with.
That soon comes into play with the bomb, which is the second power that you will collect. When placed, the player can move forma.8 and activate the shield to send it flying in any direction. You may not get the angle right on your first attempt, but combining these gameplay elements quickly becomes important in taking down the hostile creatures that inhabit the remote planet, the pods that they spawn from, or to break apart the environment to open up new paths.
Most of your time will be spent nervously flying around winding underground caves with little direction, leaving the player to map out the echoey caverns that they discover as they work out how to reach the energy source. Enemies will become increasingly dangerous and the surrounding environment as equally hazardous, with the powers that you hunt out opening up the chance to explore otherwise blocked passageways. And, to take down the several bosses that you encounter.
There’s a speed boost that’s needed to propel you through a gooey white substance, a teleport that can warp you forwards a short distance, and, later on in the game, the chance to transform into a security probe that will let you recruit enemies to open unlocked doors.
It’s a gentle mixture of exploration and puzzle solving that makes forma.8 such a joy to experience, the player’s curiosity leading them to uncover secrets in every nook and cranny. More often than not, these are peculiar diamond-shaped objects that can later be taken to a room where, if enough have been collected, you can receive upgrades to your core powers. These aren’t necessary to see the adventure through to its conclusion, but many will enjoy hunting them out.
I ended forma.8’s courageous journey with 65.2 percent completion, an adventure that took around five hours. The only concern that I have, is that I didn’t really feel the need to go back to collect everything that I had missed. Its brevity, therefore, could be perceived as a problem – especially in that some powers aren’t given as much space to be used.
From uncovering the remnants of an ancient civilisation to swerving through caverns overflowing with molten lava, forma.8 is a breathtakingly beautiful game that will astound at regular intervals. It’s the wondrous sense of discovery that sees it succeed, muddled in with some particularly exceptional puzzles.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by MixedBag