Shape Of The World

It makes you wan­der

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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

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