‘Shape of the World’ (Spiel of the Spine)

The Spiel

“Shape of the World” is a visually interesting walking simulator. However, there are a few things that can put it over the top that one would wish was there.

The game was made by Hollow Tree Games which is a small team led by visual effects artist Stu Maxwell. He was involved with the development of games like and “Warhammer 40k: Space Marine” and “Dawn of War 2” “Shape of the World” was a project launched back in June of 2015 and had a successful Kickstarter campaign with a CA$ 75,000 goal.

The Look

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“Shape of the World’s” visual is its bread and butter. The bright colors from the  surreal environment are simply awe-inspiring. Walking through the world gives the feeling of fascination as animals pass by and trees forms around you. Biomes and color palette differ as you progress through the game which also changes the way the player navigate through the levels. The creatures aren’t completely interactive but they are very cool to look at.

The Score

The sound design of the game was notable although it is not on par with its visuals. The music wasn’t as dynamic as the environment. The music does change from level to level but gameplay tempo doesn’t reflect the score’s tempo. This problem may seem small but for a game that wants its players to get lost in, sound needs to be in-sync with the game’s pacing. Sound effects are minimal but it does a good job at incorporating itself with the environment. Personally, I enjoyed drumming on the intractable objects around me to sync with the music.

The Feel

The game mechanic’s underwhelming nature is a bit of a double-edged sword. The whole game revolves around exploring and getting towards the next biome by passing through a monument marker. The players can also collect seeds that they can use to plant different types of trees and as well as interact with the environment by pressing the right trigger. Trees can be used as a slight boost and rock arches can be used to fly towards its location. The great thing about a game like this is that it lets the player soak in the visuals and appreciate its artistic value. However, the main problem with the minimalist gameplay is that it lacks variety. There are plenty of seeds to collect but all of them essentially do the same thing. The isn’t much motivation behind collecting them besides ticking the completion list. Interactivity with the creatures is also minimal. The game does ramp up towards the end but the gameplay stays the same with slight variations of what you have been doing for the past five hours.

The Verdict

In the end, “Shape of the World” is a good visual game. However, the game could use gameplay variations and a more dynamic sound design to put it over the top. However, I do understand the direction that the game wants to go. So, if you appreciate a game that emphasizes visual art and exploration, “Shape of the World” is not a bad choice but it’s not the best one either.

The Grade – Good not Great (7.5/10)


			

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