Full Disclosure: As seems to be a trend these days, I bought this game like the rest of the plebs. WTF man. Where has all my game street cred gone?
Forma.8 is the newest release from the somewhat-unreassuringly-named Mixed Bag Games, out a few weeks ago on Steam, but earlier on other platforms. It’s a highly metroidvanic joint, with oodles of physical puzzles, and psychological terrors to deal with. You’re this little black blobbed floaty Samus-like, which I’ma call Smookles. Poor Smookles, praying to what gods may exist, is one of many little black blobby bits shot out of the front of this gun-looking ship towards an unknown planet. Smookles lands and starts its journey in an earth-toned shadowy room with only one exit (for now, I guess).
The game initially feels like Metroid. There are puzzles you have to float through. You need certain power-ups in certain places to advance. There is a lot of area to explore. The biggest difference would that Smookles does not feel the effects of gravity. The controls felt really… for lack of a better word… floaty, but after I got used to how Smookles bobs around they felt pretty good. I will say I did notice I was really pressing on the d-pad harder trying to push the little dude faster (to no avail of course), which was kind of annoying. That could be because I was using PS2 controllers with it too though.
Controllers are expensive.
The graphics are simple, but are really nice to look at. While most of the characters and enemies are mostly solid black with glowing dots on them, the backgrounds are grainy textured oranges, reds, and browns that create an idea of a dark deep descent without actually blacking out the screen. I particularly liked the menu screen, not just because you can operate it and play the game at the same time, but because of how it “powers up.” The image below doesn’t really do it justice, but it kinda reminded me of turning on and off an old CRT screen. So satisfying.
I don’t really have an idea of what the greater picture of Forma.8 encompasses yet, but it seems to be bigger than just Smookles. You meet Smookles’ dead friends along the way, and they give you power ups to help you survive longer on the planet. The power ups and items are a mixed bag. So far they’re all pretty cool, but sometimes the level design is very reminiscent of a Skyrim dungeon in that at the start of some levels you can see what if effectively the equivalent of the famous exit only barred door. While I understand it’s important to have power ups that let you overcome certain situations, I’d like to see more games stretch beyond this type level design. Is there an alternative to this that doesn’t involve excessive backtracking or warping? I guess that’s the question we all have to think about.
I’m nitpicking. It’s good. I’m gonna play it some more.