Shape Of The World
It makes you wander
We’ll give Shape Of The World this; we felt a hell of a lot more relaxed after playing it and since it was our go-to game over E3 week, that was no mean feat. What it offers beyond being the gaming equivalent of a foot massage we’re hard pressed to tell you as it’s a pretty light and featureless experience. There’s something there though and that’s thanks in large part to its most artistically expressive elements really excelling and immersing you in the game’s vision.
We rarely kick off talking about the soundtrack of a game, but here we are doing it anyway, because Shape Of The World has a wonderfully etherial and floaty score that does most of the heavy lifting in terms of establishing a tone for the game world. The sci-fi exploration feel of so much of the game comes from the audio experience and how it surrounds you with long, bellowing notes and small chirps of activity. The entire soundscape at play offers the detail and texture that the game otherwise lacks visually. It brings life to otherwise lifeless areas of the game and that’s to be commended.
The score has to work that hard because graphically Shape Of The World strives for the most stripped-back and simplified look it can do without losing all detail entirely. That’s not to say that the game is visually bland, however, as it achieves a great deal with very little, embellished by the regular palette swaps you activate by walking through triangular doorways in the world, revealing new interactive elements as you do so. The often bright and vibrant colour scheme of the world, combined with the atmosphere the music evokes are what makes this game quite relaxing and engaging. It all begins to falter when the drive of the experience is examined though.
Like any good walking simulator, it always gives you something to walk towards, in this case floating triangular shapes that promise doorways to walk through and reveal new paths. You’re climbing up a mountain because it’s what’s in front of you, and that’s fine, but getting there is slow going. Not least because the walking speed is like walking through sludge a lot of the time. This is only made more apparent when you step on to one of the game’s rollercoaster staircases where you speed up as you travel. Likewise, even swimming in water appears to be faster than walking. And in terms of interactivity, while tapping rocks to reveal paths and throwing seeds to instantly grow trees has its charms, it’s all a little empty and loose. There’s very little sense of a lived-in world or revealing narrative. There’s just the journey up the mountain and that, ultimately, feels quite anticlimactic.
Walking through the triangular arches, which act as the game’s only definable objectives, changes the world state, switching the colour palette completely and often revealing new interactive objects to progress.
details Publisher Hollow tree Games Developer in-house PSN Price £11.99 Players 1