App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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I don't love the term “metroidvania,” but it's become a common term for precisely what games like forma.8 GO are. It's an action-adventure game that focuses mostly on exploration. While the game contains all of the hallmarks of solid “metroidvania” experience, forma.8 feels like a pretty weak candidate in the genre thanks to some floaty controls, poor pathfinding, and frustrating puzzles.
If you've ever played Super Metroid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, or even more recent games like Dust: An Elysian Tail, you know a lot of what to expect with forma.8. You play as a character wandering a huge environment and trying to find the next new place to go. You are given a map that fills in along the way to help you keep track of where you have and haven't been, but other than that, you're mostly on your own to discover where to go and what to do next.
In the case of forma.8 specifically, you fly your little drone through a deep series of caverns on an alien planet. To reach every area of the game, there are certain puzzles and enemies you need to defeat to unlock new powers, all of which grant you access to new parts of the environment and new ways to defend yourself.
Minimalism and momentum
The areas where forma.8 really differentiates itself from its genre is through its art style and unique control scheme. While the game's look is certainly jaw-dropping thanks to its flatly-shaded vector graphics, the floaty-style controls leave a bit to be desired.
Since you can fly anywhere you want in forma.8, it seems like the devs decided to make add difficulty to the game by making your drone move with an odd amount of momentum. This makes even simple things, like navigating tight corridors or changing directions, pretty cumbersome. Granted, there are parts of the game where this control scheme feels necessary (as there are entire puzzles designed around the way the controls work), but the end result is a game that feels pretty clunky to control. Even with an MFi controller, the drone in forma.8 isn't fun to steer.
Lost in space
Another thing to note about forma.8 is that–as you're floating your way from area to area–it can be pretty easy to get lost or confused as to what to do next. There are many areas in the game that are filled with massive expanses where there is nothing to do and nothing directing you where to go. I know these games are about exploration and a certain amount of wandering, but there were more than a few moments while playing forma.8 that I wish it would drop its minimalism and just point me in a direction.
The general lack of information that comes from forma.8's stripped-down stylings also extends into its puzzles, which can feel a little too obtuse for their own good. This isn't necessarily solely a “lack of information issue,” but not knowing what to do combined with some physics-oriented puzzle design and forma.8's loose controls is a recipe for frustration.
The bottom line
forma.8 GO contains all of the things you'd expect in a great metroidvania-style game, but the pieces here don't come together in a way that is satisfying. Although beautiful, the game's minimalist style and floaty controls really hamper your enjoyment of the things you come to these kinds of games for.