Shape of the World is a game that is different from literally every other title out there. Because every other game starts by reciting the controls with a nice tutorial. Following that you are given a certain set of objectives such as collect 50 coins or deal with the bandits in Whiterun and rescue the princess and so on and so forth.
They even hand you some weapons or other useful items and set you on a path to complete the objective. Once you’ve done what the game demanded, you’re rewarded with a 100 gold coins or shining new sword or gear item with high stats. And through this journey, the game familiarizes with you with its world that remains or grows in a certain sense. All the games out there follow the same above-mentioned steps in some form or the other. Perhaps the quest structure may be more immersive. There may be a story interwoven in those quests – strong or lose. Perhaps there may be more than one certain path to complete an objective. Or perhaps rewards might not be worthwhile. But every game does follow this structure.
On the other hand, we have Shape of the World. What started as a small Kickstarter campaign back in 2015 in Vancouver, is now a game that is unlike any other, an unique experience. It is unlike any other game I’ve ever played. Shape of the World is a breathtaking experience unlike any other about a procedurally generated world, continuously evolving around you.
Shape of the World – An Enchanting Gameplay
When I first loaded Shape of the World on my PC, it seemed as if I was stuck on an excessively long loading screen. Here I was surrounded by dull shades of grey and flowing winds in a misty and snowy environment. It wasn’t until I started messing around with my controller that I realized I was in control all along.
Although there was no tutorial or any prompt buttons, the controls were intuitive- using the left the stick to move and the right stick to look around. In the far distance, a huge arrow could be seen with a warm hue. The arrow, a warm and welcoming adobe amidst a storm of snow and mist, drew me towards it like light draws a moth.
Once I started moving towards the arrow, it was then that I became familiar with the serenity of the visuals of Shape of the World. A calming music began playing, rocks and cliffs started emerging around me. It was now that I was given the first prompt – press the right trigger to interact. The interaction could be made with trees. When I interacted with them, they disappeared and provided me with a mild boost to fasten the ordinary pace which seemed to be slower than that of a turtle.
Another item I could interact with was a set of rocks lying close together. Interacting with them provided a satisfying *TING* sound, like the one when a metal hits a rock. Once interacted with all of them, a magical staircase popped out of seemingly nowhere and led to the huge reddish arrow that was my destination in the first phase. Once I stepped on the staircase, my speed increased by huge margins.
The first magical moment of Shape of the World was stepping through the huge triangle. There was a satisfying sound that told me I had cleared a so-called level. On the other side of it was a world I’d never seen. The color pallet changed totally to reveal a different view of the same landscape. The low-poly world started building around me in the new colors as I walked through it.
On the second level, there were two huge arrows indicating where I had to go, but I could choose to go through either of them.
The second sort of interaction also opened up – throwing seed. Pressing the left trigger threw a seed which grew into a tree almost instantly. Given the infinite supply of seeds, I could pop them up anywhere and get a quick speed boost. I do not think that there is any other aspect of the seeds except for the speed boost.
In addition to the constantly growing world, Shape of the World was also full of weird creatures. There was no prompt to interact with them, most of them ran away. A few attacked. There was a tiny triangle at the bottom of the screen that alternated between red and white when attacked, it seemed to be a health bar. However, it did not impact the gameplay how so ever even when it grew fully red or white. I tried to die by jumping off heights but it was not possible either. So it is safe to say that you can’t die in this game, no matter what.
The game, all things said and considered, is just a walking simulator at its base. It may often remind you of games like Abzu or Journey. The difference is both for the good and the bad.
A Loose Sense of Progression
I’d be lying if I say that there is no progression at all in Shape of the World. However, it is very loose.
The game is divided into nine chapters, each with its specific outlines and color pallet such as a valley, coast etc. You have to navigate through the huge triangle portals that also act as landmarks and pointers. Once you walk through one of these, the color pallet changes and with it there are minor changes in geometry as well such as the shape of trees or boulders.
And that’s pretty much about the progression in Shape of the World. You have to do the same thing over and over again- spot the huge triangle, make a staircase to reach it by interacting with a few rocks and voila, that’s it. There are also some sort kinds of fruits spread throughout the game. You can collect these fruits but there is no advantage of the same. However, the collected fruits show up on the pause menu and give you a sense of accomplishment, if you’re that kind of a gamer.
Shape of the World – Story
It’s sad to say that there is no story at all, weak or lose. I did not know who I was playing as, where was I and what were the strange creatures around me. These questions were not answered from the beginning until the very end. This is a kind of disappointment. Although a story is not the main part of such games, it would not have hurt to know a few details of the world.
You could essentially finish the game within an hour, but finishing it is not the motive or the purpose of the game. The purpose is to glide through the peaceful game, away from the hectic and stressful life.
Colorful and Vivid Visuals
Shape of the World revolves around its low-poly but color enriched visuals. Each time you pass through the huge triangle, the color scheme radically changes but it is never too loud.
If I had to describe the visuals of Shape of the World in one word, I’d say ‘serene’. You never get bored as the visuals continually change around you. You even have the power to alter the world by throwing seeds and chopping down trees.
A Peacefully-sound Soundtrack
In addition to robbing your stress and clamor visually, Shape of the World robs it via sound as well. I never include soundtrack as a defining point in my reviews but the soundtrack of Shape of the World left me in awe.
In addition to the soft and relaxing instrumental music that plays in the background at all times, there is a wired satisfaction while hearing the sound of chopping trees, flowing waterfall, clinging stairs, etc.
Shape of the World Launch Trailer
Shape of the World PC Review – Verdict
Given that Shape of the World started out as just a Kickstarter campaign it is a very well implemented game. The end result is a great escape into a colorfully obscure world. It’s a peaceful experience that you can sum up in just one sitting. However, there are a few bugs in the game that may require you to restart certain sequences for example – climbing stairs.
- A serene and peaceful experience with a beautifully generated world
- A bright and Vibrant color pallet
- A soul touching soundtrack
- Monotonous and repetitive gameplay
- A few minor bugs
- No sense of Story