The word ‘surreal’ invariably falls short when it comes to trying to lift the shroud surrounding the VR first-person puzzler FORM. Transporting you to a strange inner universe via an enigmatic black obelisk, you experience what it must feel like to make contact with a higher intelligence, with its intense interlocking geometric constructions and imposing, dream-like architecture—FORM is an unexpected delight for anyone looking for something truly out of the ordinary.


FORM Details:

Official Site

Developer: Charm Games
Available On: Steam (HTC Vive), Oculus Touch (Coming Soon) PSVR (Coming 2018)
Reviewed On: HTC Vive
Release Date: June 1, 2017


Gameplay

It’s another day on the job for Dr. Devin Eli, a brilliant physicist working at a special research facility in the Alaskan wilderness. Housed at the facility is ‘The Obelisk’, a seemingly alien artifact emanating a mysterious signal. Spiriting you away into an environment like none other on earth, a place where thoughts manifest visually and the machinations of the human mind are displayed as complex machines, it’s your job to uncover the secrets of The Obelisk as you journey further to the center of the human mind and the alternative realities that reside within.

FORM shows a command of the medium that few have grasped with such clear intention. Every puzzle is an alien relic that demands your curiosity and experimentation. Every puzzle, while mysterious in its ultimate function, always injects you with the feeling that you’ve actually accomplished something wonderful. It’s like stepping into a machine of pure novelty, and it manages to deliver its intuitive puzzles without the need of a tutorial, i.e. no condescending robot voice guiding you through the world.

SEE ALSO
Acclaimed VR Puzzle Game 'FORM' Now Available for Oculus Rift

Puzzles are mostly spatial in nature, meaning you’ll be slotting glowing geometric shapes into manifolds, opening up mysterious machines and pulling levers. If you’re looking for a super hard puzzler though, FORM may let you down in that aspect. Although it would be hard to walk away without some appreciation for the visual complexity and unique variety of the puzzles displayed before you, there are some moments when I wished for a real stumper.

In the end, the story left me feeling a bit confused, probably necessitating another playthrough altogether to fully grasp. Considering it took about an hour for me to play from start to finish, it’s not unthinkable that even after solving all the puzzles that you’d want to play again to understand the intentionality behind them, and understand exactly what you’re reconnecting and discovering. In any case, I attribute it to the game robbing my attention with all of its strange and fulfilling abstractions.

Immersion and Comfort

Like a lucid dream, or being under the influence of a psychedelic, the visual complexity is really something to behold. The world morphs around you, drawing your gaze further and further, and you have to tell yourself to not give into the awe to complete the puzzles. Its humbling to think it all lives inside the human brain and you can access it (and interact with it) just by putting on a VR headset.

At some moments, when the world was whirring around me and dozens of tiny puzzle pieces were floating in front of my face, I did feel my computer choke a bit (reviewed on i7-6700, GTX 1080, 16 GB RAM). This may be helped somewhat by turning down the graphical intensity in the settings, although the pre-release copy didn’t include access to the settings menu, so we can’t say for sure. These moments were few and far between though, as most of the time things went by smoothly.

SEE ALSO
'FORM' Developers Confirm Work on New VR Project

There isn’t any artificial locomotion to speak of besides the times when you teleport into puzzles, and that’s not a user-controlled mechanic anyway. Everything is basically presented to you in forward-facing position within a square meter area, making it an exceedingly comfortable standing experience with no risk to the first time VR player.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
8.5

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  • Raphael

    Yes, I read through looking especially for locomotion and play time. Forward facing so that’s ok I guess given the nature of the game. Completed in 1 hour? Totally not acceptable for me. I want VR games with substance and longevity.

    • Tadd Seiff

      I also want substance and longevity, but I don’t believe, from the review, that either of these are lacking in this game.

      The price-point is what is out-of-sync with our expectations, I think. I welcome really well developed stuff, even short experiences, but the pricing has to be realistic. I will play short projects, I want to even, and they are often substantial and sometimes even replayable.

      FORM is $14.99, as of this moment. That’s not that horrible, as much as a movie ticket these days. For 1 hour of play? Not great. But there are similar length games for twice that (Virtual Rickality anyone?).

      • Raphael

        So you want longevity and you think 1 hour is a long game… :)
        Similar length games for twice that? And what do you think I say about those games too?

        • Tadd Seiff

          I know what you say, I’ve read it, and I agree with you 100%. And I completely agree with your assessment that this game it too short, and I probably won’t play it, as intriguing as it sounds, because it is so short.

          However, I didn’t know what it costs, and when I looked I thought it was worth pointing out that the price is at least towards the “sane” and respectful side of the spectrum, imho.

          I’m right there with you, generally, just making discussion.

          When I saw the price of Arkham VR: I laughed
          when I saw the price of Rickality: I laughed even harder (and cried)
          When I saw the price for this: I thought “that’s a bit expensive, but, it’s not insulting”.

      • mikowilson

        Do you seriously JUST care about price/time? Do you carry over that same mentality with food?
        A steak?! No sir! I will take FIVE POUNDS OF FLOUR! lol.
        If the experience is good, and involved, I’ll play it. If it’s from a smaller studio and I know that they poured their heart into it? I’ll throw a few more bucks in that I would for a bigger studio.
        I personally think you’re missing out if you skip this game. I really really enjoyed it.

        • Tadd Seiff

          “…JUST care about price/time?” No, those are words you put in my mouth.

          However, price is an issue. And not everyone can buy everything just because it’s good, it just isn’t affordable. If money was no issue…then money would be no issue, and I absolutely would play this.

          But in reality we can’t play everything, and if something’s time/money value is skewed, it’s just not going to get downloaded, by me anyway.

          It’s worth pointing out that my comments were addressing the OP’s statements more than the value of this game. I thought it was short sighted for them to assume this game doesn’t have substance just because it is short. Indeed, this is the point you are making, so where exactly do our opinions diverge I’m confused?

          You’re just mad because I didn’t buy it maybe??

          Also worth pointing out is that I wrote the second paragraph before I checked the price. Then in the 3rd paragraph, I even conceded that the price/play ratio IS tolerable.

          So, I also agree with you, sorry that the nuance of my comments were lost…mm steak.

          • mikowilson

            Yeah this is weird, lol. I was aiming this at the OP too, lol.

    • Tadd Seiff

      I think you mean “re-playability” rather than longevity, or maybe you just mean you want longer games.

      • Raphael

        I go for games with longer play and/or replay-ability generally. I also think a developer is asking for trouble making a VR game with 1 hour play time when people can get a refund on steam within the 2 hour period.

        • mikowilson

          That trouble comment is true; BUT, I’d rather have a super fun 1 hour game then a 2 hour game with an hour of filler. Honestly, there is zero filler in this game, lol. It’s all game.

          • Raphael

            I’d rather have a game I can still be playing months down the line.

      • Personally, I will almost always choose replayability over how long it takes to play through a game one time. I’d much rather have a 6 hour game I can and will want to play hundreds of time than a 60 hour game I will likely only play one or two times at best (if I even bother to finish it a single time).

        • Raphael

          Me same. That’s why I tend to go for stuff like Elite or Eve Valkyrie. Raw Data I think also has good replay.

          I tend to avoid story based games but do make exceptions.

    • mikowilson

      Personally, the time was perfect for this game. It’s a pretty dense, and an intense experience. Playtime alone, for me, doesn’t really matter if the experience is good. This experience is GOOD.

    • Fallout VR…I can only wonder if you’ll vanish for a month after that sees its release. That’ll be your one true fix :)

      • Raphael

        I must have spent many hours on Elite and quite a few on Raw Data.

        A game with 2 hours of play is a short game for me. 3 hours likewise. I remember when COD 2 single player was so long I never reached the end. Big budget game I know but I will never get used to short games.

        Fallout 4 should be good. I will also be playing through HL2 mod when it arrives on steam.

  • NooYawker

    Is it $5 bucks or less? Because at this point there’s no reason for anyone to buy such a short game.

  • Lucidfeuer

    People complaining about the “game” being too short never spent more than an hour straight in a headset and didn’t fully grasp the conceptual approach of the VR experience format.

    As for the price, well I agree the premium price is unjustified and actually counter-productive.

    • Raphael

      What in god’s cock are u on about this time?

      “People complaining about the “game” being too short never spent more than an hour straight in a headset ” << random bollocks again?

      I complain about an hour long game but then maybe I shouldn't since I can buy it, complete it then get a refund within the 2 hour period.

      You seem to have a lot of random stuff in your head… I complain about short games precisely because I spend more than 1 hour in VR.

      I play Elite Dangerous… that tends to be long and boring right?
      DCS World… may surprise you but DCS World isn't like space pirate trainer.

      I go for games with long play and I have no problem spending hours in VR. I'm not one of those whining pussies who can't wear a Vive for more than 1 hour without suffering a broken neck.

      • mikowilson

        Wow, you’re just a nightmare.
        You openly shit on a game that you say you aren’t going to buy; while at the same time admitting to abusing the Steam return policy.
        You realize that human beings made this game right? Human beings with families? Good grief are you terrible.

        • Raphael

          Considering I have a big list of non Vr and vr games I’m not doing very well at abusing the system am I? Blasters of the universe, iron wolf, Obduction bought this past week.

          it’s a hypothetical abuse you mong. someone on facebook was bragging about doing that routinely last week. Developers who make very short games risk that kind of abuse.

          pie face poo face

        • Tadd Seiff

          Yeah, @Orangeunderpants:disqus , what about the children? You return games on Steam and then kiss your own mother?

          @mikowilson:disqus it’s quite obvious your are either technically or emotionally involved in this title somehow.

          • mikowilson

            I’m a developer who hates thieves. Sorry.
            I also know what goes into making a game like this, especially by a small indie studio.
            I have a different reference point than you, and it informs how I treat people who create things that I REALLY enjoy.
            Sorry if that offends you.

          • Raphael

            Do yourself a favour and develop longer than 2 hours content.

          • mikowilson

            Yeah. That really is the only option. It’s a shame though, in my opinion. I think there is a market for short experiences that are super fun. I honestly don’t have time to play an 8 hour game anymore. Sometimes I just want to get in, have my mind blown, then go eat dinner. Lol.

          • Raphael

            But you dont have to complete a long game all at once. Play a bit. Go to restaurant. Return… play some more. Sleep… wakeup… play some more. You can do this over weeks or months.

            But ultimately it’s about choice. Some people are happy with short games. I’ve been shown some games that last only 5 or 10 mins on steam. I wonder what the record is for shortest game.

          • mikowilson

            You don’t have to complete a movie in one sitting, but a lot of us prefer that.

          • Raphael

            I suggest you try watching HEIMAT in one sitting. Or Die Zweite Heimat.
            Ever since the 80s we’ve had games that last a long time. Weeks or months.

            Now suddenly you want games you can complete in one hour or less. You must really hate being in vr. There is no other explanation. You want your mind blown in a game you don’t have to play again. Then you move on to the next short tech demo. As i said… You must not be able to take being in vr very long.

          • mikowilson

            You talk a lot of nonsense.
            I work in VR, every day, for hours on end. I’ve played most content. Sit down.
            I don’t suddenly want games that can be completed in less than an hour. I appreciate that that market exists and provides me another way to consume games. Not everything has to be a dick measuring contest buddy.
            Some of us simply don’t have 80 hours of spare time, and want to be able to complete a compelling experience in between coming home from work, and sleeping. There isn’t ANYTHING wrong with that.

          • Raphael

            That’s true. Can’t argue with that. I do talk a lot of pish sometimes.

          • Tadd Seiff

            “thieves”?

            You better check yourself, buddy.

          • mikowilson

            If someone gets a game from Steam, plays that game, and returns it simply because they can. Yeah. That’s theft. It’s classic return fraud.
            Consider myself checked.

          • Tadd Seiff

            Now you are babbling. You have ethics and law confused.

            You are 100% wrong that it’s return fraud. It’s impossible to commit fraud within a legitimate return policy window. Also, Steam is DRM. You are giving the game back, essentially, in return for what you paid for it. No fraud.

            Again, ethics, law, different.

      • Lucidfeuer

        What was the longest, non-pause, VR session you ever did? This week we met a local university medical research team to test for various VR effects, and while the ultimate goal is to merge reality with virtual, there’s no-way you can stay in VR for more than a few hours without your face melting with heat, your eyes itching with blue-light, and your senses getting disoriented.

        • Raphael

          It’s a good question. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve spent 4 hours plus in vr. There was a record of someone spending 24 hours in vr i believe. Default vive face pad is made from neoprene. It’s the worst possible material for skin contact. Traps heat and holds bacteria. My face used to get really hot. I’ve modded my neoprene pad with shiny faux leather and it’s much cooler to use now.

          The game i would have spent the most time on per sitting is elite dangerous.

          I might add a battery powered fan to circulate air. Elite can be a time sink so i know i would have spent more than an hour.

          I’m going to time myself next time i play.

        • kool

          I did 5hrs in the psvr with no problem. I started at like 3 something and it was dark when I was done. Mostly played eve and downloads.

          • mikowilson

            The reality is that not everyone can handle long sessions in VR. Congratulate yourself if you can. I’ve done one fairly long stint, too long, and although I got through it; it wasn’t pleasurable.
            My comfort level is around 2 hours, and then I want to go outside and see the sun for a bit, lol.
            There’s simply nothing wrong with some people having lower tolerances to the experience, and they are allowed to ask for shorter experiences to compensate, if they so wish. Not everything has to be so vitriolic.

          • kool

            I’m seeing people build their legs for vr, so I don’t think that there is a lot of people who can’t handle VR. Instead of making games static with teleport, they can add a tutorial to ease new users in then ramp up the motion. Making games with teleport makes vr games look like gimmicks.

        • BritBit

          7 hours. Then had a 20 min break to let the headset cool down and eat dinner. Then went back in for another 4 hours before I had to sleep. I could happily live in VR most of the time and find it incredibly relaxing. I don’t get any sort of motion sickness in real life though (not sure if that makes a difference) and I’m autistic so my senses are a bit ‘off kilter’ already. I also do extreme sports, so I’m used to being swung around at high speed, upside down, backwards, in the air/ocean/zero grav. The hard bit for me is playing a movement based game for too long, as my arms and legs start to ache after an hour or so!

          I guess VR stamina depends on how easily someone is affected by visual/sensory stuff? Just guessing anyway. The people I know who get travel sick in real life seemed to find VR more difficult after a while.

          Edit: Something I’ve noticed, is that if I keep the room and myself cooler (windows open, hair tied up, thin clothing) then it helps a lot.

          • Lucidfeuer

            What headset are you using? Motion sickness and susceptibility is not much the problem of long VR exposure since you either get used to it or have to have the right settings and experiences, but heat (which you have an interesting recommandation for), eyes, neck and spine strains, amongst other things

            As for being (probably asperger and not just) autistic, the focused immersion actually probably reduces the usual sensory over-exposure and real world anxiety which makes for longer accommodations in VR.

          • BritBit

            The headset is Oculus Rift. I had my eyes lasered a few years ago, so that might help (maybe?). I’m not sure how it works. And yes, I do find VR is a lot more calming than real life. There are things I find easier in VR (like walking into a crowded public area full of people talking via avatars) that I struggle with in reality. The more I use it and discover new things, the more I realise how beneficial it is! I really love VR!

            Edit: Yeah, I think they use the term ‘aspergers’ now. When I was diagnosed a few years back it was just ‘high functioning autism’, but the terms have changed. I just refer to myself as a ‘social and sensory retard’! Not PC, but covers everything! : D

          • Lucidfeuer

            You’re definitely Asperger (of more or less lower spectrum) if you were diagnostised with HFA, and are capable of humour. Which means “socially retarded” in that you have to understand and adjust rather than it being automatic and natural, but you’re sensory capacities are simply unfiltered which means going out to town, being in a crowded environment wether a school or office while focusing or having to make effort is 3x more tiring because your brain doesn’t filter extra-signals.

            That’s why AR, and maybe more importantly Augmented Audio like https://hereplus.me/ are amazing because they’ll allow to temper or filter those extraneous signals.

  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea
  • mikowilson

    Just wanted to say that I played the game and really enjoyed it.
    It felt like The Room/Irrational Exuberance/The Lab all met up in some skeezy motel and created a VR lovechild.
    I personally don’t think the narrative was needed, or even had a place in this game, but I appreciate the attempt.
    Some of the puzzles were wicked; and you guys clearly put a ton of work into the animation of these spaces. At some times I was just impressed by the amount of animation alone, lol.
    Honestly, good job overall. I’d say it’s the most fun VR experience I’ve had this year.

    • Raphael

      No, it’s the best experience you’ve had ever in Vr or will ever have.

      • mikowilson

        I’ve played every popular Vive game, and most Rift games. Troll.

        • Raphael

          You liked the puzzle element and the presentation. Does that mean you’re more into this kind of game? What do you think of Obduction?

      • BritBit

        Dreams of Dali was the best experience, but this is the best game I’ve tried so far. At so early in the VR tech era, I’m not expecting the equivalent of long MMORPG games like Skyrim that last forever. I’m happy to just try out VR for the next year while the rest of society buys into it (I appreciate not everyone could afford all the kit needed at it’s starting price). Once VR is more affordable for the average person (it’s slowly getting there now) and consumer market grows, I’m sure the bigger companies will start to design longer play games. They need enough people in VR before it is cost affective and I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet.

        So just be happy that you get to try out early VR before most people, and support the companies willing to risk time and effort creating content like this for the early adopters!

        • Raphael

          I haven’t seen dreams of dali. I will look it up. Agree about the being patient. End of 2017 willl start to see the longer games emerge. I think also there was this idea that people can’t possibly wear a vr hmd for long periods of play in a single sitting. While there’s a percentage who can’t i think it’s only a percentage. I’ve never had issues with extended play sessions except with Vive on stock neoprene (awful) face cushion. Since replacing that cushion i can wear the Vive for long periods of time.

          • BritBit

            You need to get the (free) Inception app. Then in the ‘Art’ menu scroll until you find the Dali one. ‘Crystal Habit’ is also quite calming to watch.

  • Salihoff

    As Developer working on a personal game it think @Raphael actually says a right thing. It’s not about is it right to get a refund for a good short game. If it’s techinicaly possible players will do it. And actually 1 hour is somewhat strange. I really don’t like long gameplay I almost never finish a game with 10+ hrs of gameplay (Last of Us is the only exception) but there is medium that many of us like so much – movies and they have mostly 2hrs runtime. The games I like a lot – Brothers Tale of Two Sons, Machinarium and others are around 3-5 hrs. So I guess 3 hrs is a sweetspot for a satisfying gaming expirience. Even my favorite mobile title Smash Hit VR has around 3 hrs of gameplay. I’ve played 2 hrs nonstop in GearVR and it was pretty comfortable stiil couldn’t get to last level :)