Forma.8 (Switch) Review

Metroidvania with Balls

Forma.8 plays out like a 2D Metroid game, if Samus were forced to travel as a floating morph ball the entire time. The developers at MixedBag Games have created a visually stunning world that begs to be explored. Truth be told, if moving around didn’t feel like a chore at times, I would have investigated every nook and cranny.

Catch the Video Version for more gameplay footage and for your viewing pleasure!

You play as a probe, assigned to explore an alien planet alongside other probes. After an unexpected crash landing, you are left alone, struggling to survive and escape. This dreadful sense of isolation screams Metroid. And the gameplay is likewise similar; traverse mazelike corridors, solve environmental puzzles, and seek out collectibles.

forma.8 Switch Review Gameplay.png
Play as a probe, stuck on a different planet.

The biggest difference is that instead of running and jumping around, your probe can float for an unlimited time. Don’t assume you can easily glide over obstacles, though – narrow pathways, locked gates, and airborne enemies constantly impede your progress. Shortly after the game begins, you find your first two weapons: an energy shield that unleashes a radial attack to hurt anything nearby and bombs that detonate shortly after being placed. The game cleverly lets you combine the attacks, using the shield to fling bombs as a projectile weapon – provided you can aim effectively with the loose controls.

forma.8 Switch Review Weapons.png
The world is teeming with eerie, robotic creatures.

Therein lie my biggest issues with the game. Your floating probe is slow and clunky. The slower pace may work when you enter areas for the first time, fostering deliberate investigation of your surroundings. But in larger areas or while backtracking, the sluggishness sometimes discouraged me from venturing too far off the beaten path, especially since the map doesn’t show your exact location in a given room. It’s more of an inconvenience, but it becomes a problem when compounded with the slippery movement.

The probe’s momentum carries it forward even after you let go of the controls, and you must pull it back to stop it. At that point, it takes a while just to get moving again, making it difficult to maneuver sharp turns. The problem is magnified when trying to attack the much quicker foes that home in on you. These areas are more annoying than challenging. To the game’s credit, a later upgrade facilitates faster and smoother travel, though you are more prone to bouncing off course.

forma.8 Switch Review Landscape.png
I believe I can fly.

Forma.8 has its fair share of puzzles scattered around the world, and I found most of them clever. Many utilize the environment in unique ways, sometimes even shifting gameplay and asking you to escort a creature or blast out of cannons Donkey Kong-style. However, I didn’t enjoy the challenges in which I had to transport items. As you can imagine, a limbless probe has a tough time carrying objects, so you must resort to hitting or ramming into them. Pushing explosive rocks around enemy-infested passageways was a frustrating exercise of patience.

forma.8 Switch Review Puzzles
Most puzzles are fun, but a few are annoying to handle as a ball.

Rounding out the adventure are some well-designed bosses that were fun to outwit. Again, your clunky movement makes them more difficult than necessary, but I appreciated the challenges these huge creepy creatures delivered; and I could thankfully restart at the same spot if I lost. The game is forgiving, and every new area constitutes a new checkpoint where you instantly respawn following death.

The adventure isn’t too long, clocking in at roughly five hours, but seeking out the numerous collectibles that increase your health or unlock hidden truths can bump up that time. The only progress indicator is a percentage on the file select screen, which may be an issue for completionists. Regardless, I loved coming across any hidden item, even if I didn’t know its purpose at the time.

forma.8 Switch Review Backdrop.png
Breathtaking.

Despite my gripes about the probe’s movement speed, the world is genuinely entertaining to sightsee, and a lot of that is owed to the magnificent art direction. Embracing a minimalist presentation of stunning silhouettes among gorgeous backdrops, forma.8 makes a big case toward embracing your inner voyager. The planet’s inhabitants, though robotic in design, move fluidly. No matter how many enemies were present, I didn’t experience slowdown, whether playing on the big screen or in handheld mode. In addition, amazing sound design immersed me in the world. Hearing a loud crash instantly piqued my curiosity about what lay ahead. Dark, ambient music coupled with atmospheric buzzing added to the ever-present eeriness. The HD rumble added to the immersion, giving unique haptic feedback based on what was making noise in the vicinity.

forma.8 Switch Review Banner.png
Will you be making a crash landing?

Conclusion

Forma.8 will please fans of the Metroidvania genre, particularly those who liked the sense of dread and isolation in Samus’ adventures. Other familiar elements – like its environmental puzzles, hidden collectibles, and boss battles – will also make enthusiasts feel at home. Controlling a floating ball is certainly a unique take, but its sluggish pace may discourage less hardcore fans to explore the alien planet. On the other hand, the beautiful minimalist world is the biggest counterbalance, encouraging you to seek out new territory. Overall, the game won’t appeal to everyone, but those itching for more Metroid-like experiences might want to give it a try.

Score: 7/10

A review copy of the Nintendo Switch version of forma.8 was provided by the publisher for this article.

What are your thoughts on forma.8? What are your favorite Metroid-like or Metroidvania games? What would you like to see in future games in the genre? Please share any thoughts and questions in the comment section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Forma.8 (Switch) Review

  1. Great review! I really like the silhouetted visuals of the game. It has a nice aesthetic to it. Moving around does look challenging, especially when there are enemies all around you. And it seems easy to get lost in the labyrinth. I haven’t yet played Metroid, so I should really try that first. But maybe after, I can be a floating ball! The Donkey-Kong-like barrel mechanic looks pretty fun! Nice job! So excited for you~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always! 😀 I definitely recommend trying out the classic Metroid games sometime! They’re similar but very different. I think you’d like the exploration aspect of it. Maybe not the combat so much, but solving the environmental puzzles and filling in the map! Also, yes the visuals look awesome – very standout! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for your comments! 🙂 The controls aren’t ideal, which is why I’m less positive on what would be an otherwise solid Metroidvania game. They’re not the worst controls, but they feel slippery and clunky, which made some parts far too frustrating. I like the originality of the floating ball – if only the ball moved more smoothly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, when I was writing about the Metroid Prime trilogy, I remarked that the morph ball segments were so good, they felt like their own game. Therefore, I could see making a good, full-fledged game out of that concept even if it ends up being in 2D. Maybe I’ll check this one out at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that would be a great idea for Nintendo to tackle. I do love the morph ball segments in Metroid Prime, for sure. They felt very different, much more than in the 2D games, likely because of the entire perspective change in Prime. In forma.8, the ball floats, so it’s not quite the same. But a lot of those core Morph Ball mechanics are there like laying bombs and even Samus’ momentum. So yeah, you definitely have an idea going there with a pure morph ball game.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed this review! I love the visual style, it reminds me of the silhouette levels in Donkey Kong Returns mixed with Metroid! Also, the idea of a game where you play as a probe is just cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! Yes, I got that vibe too. As you can see, an entire Metroid game done with silhouette visuals is plain gorgeous. You’d get a kick out of the alien planet! 😉

      Like

      1. I think you would like it then! I remember I got it for free a few years back when iTunes was doing some kind of special where they were giving away a bunch of apps and games away for free. Even my mom enjoyed playing it on her phone! It gets pretty difficult, but still fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so so behind on both of my emails ack! I get updates when you post a YouTube video through one mailbox and updates when you post a blog through another lol. I just wanted to like this one and tel you I put the video itself on my Watch Later list, so I’ll get to it and reply probably on the Tube of You 🙂 I see you’ve over 200 subscribers now and I wanted to say congrats though I’m probably super late to that party :p

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review! I’m playing through it myself and planning a review later on, but I agree on a key point. The sluggish movement doesn’t bug me a whole lot, I think it adds to the challenge of what I’ve played so far. What is a problem is the map doesn’t detail the passageways and corridors you’ve gone through in a particular room. The rooms are huge, so as you said, that combined with the sluggish movement is something I don’t like very much. It takes too long to scope a room before feeling it’s time to move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot man! 🙂 Definitely agree with you about the lack of detail in maps throwing me off. I lose the motivation to explore when I’m in a gigantic room, don’t know exactly where I am, and move like a slug. I want to get the collectibles but don’t want to search every single dead end, especially when some of them have nothing. I look forward to reading what you think! Thanks again! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s