Forma.8 – Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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According to that same Internet hive mind, forma is Italian for shape, and it’s a fitting word to apply to the vast, desolate landscape players will find themselves exploring. With blocks of colour depicting a world behind a silhouetted foreground where the action takes place, this really is a world made up of shapes. Jagged lines and angles make up the terrain, with the camera zooming in at times to create claustrophobia, and out to reveal huge caverns that dwarf your diminutive probe.

Making your way around this lonely environment will reveal technology that feels ancient and unused, guarded by imaginative machines that act as sentinels, each with weaknesses that once discovered, make complete sense.

Apart from the machines, the only life I’ve found so far is a very primordial biology, with an instinct seemingly set to a default of aggression. Or maybe I’m mistaking that aggression for what is merely an attraction to my little probe’s light.

Between the landscape, the technology, and the alien life forms, MixedBag have created a very satisfying world to explore, successfully provoking a genuine sense of discovery. Up to a point.

I feel I’ve hit a brick wall, and I can’t honestly say whether I’m motivated enough to break through it or not.

Unlocking certain abilities will allow players to backtrack and head down paths that were previously blocked. This would have been a lot more fun if the in-game map was a little more detailed, but in the case of Forma.8, the backtracking becomes frustrating at times. The stylised visuals seem to contribute to this, thanks to the black foregrounds and variously shaded backgrounds which, while pretty, do tend to all blend into one another after a while.

I do feel that Forma.8 would benefit hugely from a more helpful map, and even just a tightening up of the size of the world. Less may have proved more.

On a more positive note, the puzzles I’ve encountered so far, and the abilities I’ve accrued with which to defeat them, feel original and logical. The less said about them however, the better. Even describing how to use your found abilities and how they are mapped to the controller are best left for players to discover, because there is no tutorial at all. MixedBag have done a fine job of handing over responsibility to the player to teach themselves, all while providing clever visual clues along the way.

I find myself on a see-saw with Forma.8, at times loving the originality of this world with its denizens and mysteries, while at other times feeling like I’m hopelessly and frustratingly lost.

I appreciate the care that’s gone into creating this beautiful adventure, and despite my criticisms would still recommend it, as its positives outweigh its negatives.

I’m off to trawl the forums of the Internet inhabited by those smarter than I, and no doubt will return to Forma.8 at some point kicking myself for not seeing what was perhaps right in front of me. But it’s that slight lack of motivation to do so that worries me.

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