Exploring this unknown planet will leave you pushing for more.
The number of 2D space exploration games on Nintendo platforms is staggering. And though the themes may be similar, each one tries to do its own thing to stand out. This is very true for forma.8, the latest game from Mixedbag Games. It sets you in control ofa small ball-shaped ship and exploring a deserted planet. The first few minutes are focused on exploration, but the simple space flight jumps right into an intense action adventure.
The final game will offer ten different power-ups, but the first one comes in straight away: an electric pulse used to activate machinery and other things. It will start machines, open up gates and give objects a little push. This is shown in a puzzle early as the puzzle requires pushing bombs (the second power-up) into walls to clear the way. Neat ideas like this are the reason to keep pushing and see what the developer come up with next. The electric pulse is useful, but its weakness is that it isn't an effective weapon against enemies. When the enemies appear, the pulse can push them back, but it takes a while to destroy them completely. The bombs also take their time to blow up, except if an enemy somehow runs into it. In most instances, I just shoved the enemies out of my way and moved on.
The world itself is mysterious. The creatures and environments are unlike anything I have seen. Unlike other space adventure games, where it feels more like a Metroidvania with a focus on exploration, this game feels a lot more linear. Without thinking twice, I went through the shafts and terrains and explored new areas as I moved along. The puzzles and enemies came at a fair pace, so I had time to react but wasn’t left thinking “what’s next” for too long. The map is on the GamePad so that checking the current location doesn't have to interrupt gameplay.
It didn’t take long to get the hang of the game controls. The ship is constantly drifting, so you do have to make minute adjustments, but the ship responds quite well. There was one sequence that required moving in a frantic fashion to get a ship to spin, which worked great. The weapons use a lot of the GamePad’s buttons, and it’s simple to figure out which button fires what.
I had a half hour demo with forma.8 and I’m already looking forward to more.It’s an intrigung space exploration game that takes it slow and builds from there. There is no rush or haste to it, which makes for a nice change. The controls are sharp, and the game’s mechanics feel solid. The big selling points for me are the puzzles and the things to see while exploring, which hopefully will come out fully polished when the game launches in a couple of months.