Reviews

Shape of the world review – Trippy World Building

Who would have thought that bike rides through a park would inspire a whole video game? Hollow Tree Games founder Stu Maxwell did just that with ‘Shape of the World’. When this reviewer says this title is trippy, one is not exaggerating. Shape of the World has no protagonist, story line or hands on guidance. Players are treated with a white screen with a hazy triangle in the distance, one thought the game had frozen at first.

Players need to navigate to these triangles throughout the game in order to proceed and build the world around them. As triangle gates are passed, players will notice their game world slowly populating with ghost like wild life, flora and various landscapes. Shape of the World is displayed in a first person perspective, his solidifies the games attempt at immersion and tranquil bliss.

“Red Buttons Everywhere!”

Where are the weapons!?

The aim of the game isn’t always clear in Shape of the World, and that’s because there isn’t one. All players need to worry about is interacting with white inanimate object to create bridges to speed them to their next area of creation. Although movement can be slow in-between bridges, players can interact with trees to give them a boost around whichever area they are in.

Gameplay is so simple but hard at first for players to get their heads around, this is due to the absolute simplicity of the title. All that players need to worry about is moving, one button for interactions and pressing another to throw seeds. Throwing seeds is a way to generate trees to boost when needed the most.

Building Bridges

Once players find themselves on a bridge, Shape of the World turns into a roller coaster of sorts. This allows players to take in the vistas they are helping create. For those readers who have read ‘The Silmarilion’ by J.R.R. /Chris Tolkien, this journey of creation serves as a visual aid for the beginnings of middle earth and beyond. Of course the two media are completely unrelated, one found human nature kicking in trying to rationalize what was going on. Maybe this is the’ World of the Forms ‘forming?

The presentation of Shape of the World is truly individual and ethereal, this addition to Switches digital line up is simply in a league of its own. The procedurally generated cell shaded in game world follows a general colour palette for different areas. For example, the beginning of the game displays brilliant whites, pale pinks with hues of orange and fuchsia. As time goes on players will see night time shades and other display changes which is driven by weather conditions. Everything is nice, clean and polished. The only issue one had with the overall presentation of the title was harsh frame rate drops when entering densely validated areas, which was a big shame. Fingers crossed for a patch.

“Ooooo Shiny!”

Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery

This writer would actually recommend playing before bed and for avid listeners of sleep meditation music. This is more or less the soundtrack in game, with digital phasers complimented by a bucket load of ethereal but natural notes. One did pick up on the trance-like state Shape of the World enticed, overall the audio experience is very zen and rarely peaks at a higher frequency. At least not for very long. Sound effects are mostly triggered by interactions which are quite minimalistic. For example, interacting with a certain pillar provides a gong sound bite.

Verdict:

Graphics and Presentation 3.5

Gameplay 3.5

Sound: 4

Overall Score: 3.7/5

Shape of the World is an experience like no other, of course we have visually stylistic and trance inducing titles such as Red. But nothing quite like this. Although the visual direction is commendable, frame rate issues in populated areas let it down. Although Shape of the World won’t be to everyone’s taste, it’s great to see developers taking risks with objectiveless games.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam

Release Date: 06/06/2018

Price: £13.49 (eShop)

Publisher: Plug in Digital

Developer: Hollow Tree Games

Pegi Rating: 3+

Review copy provided by Publisher

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