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Have You Played... Forma.8?

A return to Forma

Forma.8 is the perfect chill-out game. I played it recently after a heavy stint of graphics card benchmarking and it was the best antidote I could have asked for. Not only does this relaxed 2D explorer look stunning (especially when the camera pulls out to reveal its gorgeous pastel landscapes that look like they've been beamed-in straight off a No Man's Sky poster) but its threat level is also just about low enough that I can happily switch off my brain and not have to worry too much about all the cranky black insects I've disturbed who are shooting horrible pollen bombs at me. Instead, I can just deploy my little robot's protective burst attack and gently bap them away with the touch of a button, allowing me to continue cruising through the strange caverns I seem to have found myself in.

It has a very similar vibe to Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, albeit with the pace ground down to that of a space snail. Your titular Forma bot doesn't move half as fast as your insanely twisted saucer, but it doesn't need to. It's still got enough momentum to evade enemies that zip across the screen, and there's a lot of satisfaction in pulling off the perfect wiggle through a tight corridor by steering in the opposite direction to its thrusters. There's a pleasing sense of weight to it, like there's a proper force of gravity at work. For me, its soothing sluggishness is a big part of the charm.

There are, admittedly, some baffling difficulty spikes. They only crop up occasionally, but seriously, who thought it was a good idea to include a multi-stage rock-balancing puzzle when you've only got a tiny, spherical robot that bounces off every conceivable surface? Similarly, some of the boss battles are so willfully obtuse that I was constantly looking up how I was meant to defeat them. I'm not saying they need big, red, glowing weak spots or anything, but a little more signposting would have gone a long way.

Despite these occasional frustrations, Forma.8 is still a great rehabilitation tool for a fried benchmarking brain. It's like the city-break of gaming holidays. After seeing it through to the end, I felt refreshed and ready to embrace the world of games again. So if you're ever in need of your own gaming getaway, zap this on (it's less than a tenner on Steam) and let its chilled-out space noseying set you back to zero.

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