Shape of the World is an exploration game where you traverse an ever-changing multi-colour landscape with the single goal of reaching the summit of a mountain. There are nine different environmental biomes that you will explore along the journey of aesthetically pleasing sights and sounds. The only objectives within the game are triangular checkpoints that you need to pass through which launch you into the next area. Aside from that the entirety of the game is left for you to become a tourist is this mystical world and enjoy the many views that you will come across. That being said, it is hard to classify Shape of the World as a game, but rather as an experience to distract yourself and get lost in the many calming aspects that the world has to offer.
Players will acquire seeds which can be thrown to instantly sprout trees that, once interacted with, thrusts you forward while playing a soothing chime. You are continually surrounded with colourful hills, trees, rivers, boulders, vegetation, and living creatures that will make you stop and gaze at the beauty before you. There are also stone structures that need to be triggered which will unveil a staircase that will speed up the character’s movement and take them along a path to a different area.
The visuals and audio are impressive as they are the defining features of the experience. Shape of the World offers a very peaceful experience that is meant to calm players as you interact with the environments. It can be viewed as something you would play before going to bed to set your mind at ease from the stress or struggles that you may have experienced throughout the day or through various other games. Each biome showcases particular colours and moods as you progress through procedurally generated trees and flora while en route to the next area to discover. The music adds to the overall meditative and immersive experience as it responds to every action taken place.
Even though you are told to take your time and explore the many wonders of each biome, Shape of the World can still be completed within two hours. Anyone wishing to clear each biome quickly can do so within an hour. There are several trophies which can extend the overall duration for achievement hunters, but I feel most players will enjoy the experience once and then move on. Movement is also on the slower side when you don’t have any trees or monolithic statues to thrust you forward. This movement is also contrasted to the hastened speed that takes place when you are being guided along staircases.
As you climb the tower of biomes you will notice that environments get darker and it is more difficult to visualize paths to traverse. The most frustrating was the cave biome where you would interact with stone statues that would force you into underwater caverns, looking for a way out. It took a few moments to discover the large monolithic statues that would propel you, one after another, to the exit, but this instance was not in line with the relaxing presence that is found throughout the previous experiences offered in each biome.
Shape of the World tries to offer something different to gamers through a peaceful and meditative walking simulator experience that falls flat overall. Visuals and audio are the highlighted features offered, but the actual gameplay consists of moving forward to get through each biome without looking back to what you may have missed. The concept is impressive, but the execution makes it feel less of a game and more of an experience to combat anxiety and stress.
You can follow me on Twitter at @DaveMolinski
[A copy of the game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]