The following is the original transcript for our Shape of the World Video Review
Shape of the World takes you on an abstract adventure of color and sound in a world that amorphously builds around you. With no definite objective, win or lose end result, Shape of the World asks you to explore and get lost within it.
Presented in a first-person perspective with very little instruction, Shape of the World is a game with a focus on nature, in a distinct artistic representation, that invites the player to tinker with its spaces that actually form and build around them. Through that curiosity and your touch, the world begins to shift, both physically and visually the more you explore it.
Colors in the environment change, from soft to striking and everything in-between. Trees sprout from the ground, bodies of water slowly fill empty indents, and unidentifiable bubbly creatures manifest as you make your way through its several biomes and locations. Its soundtrack is just as dynamic, experimental, and stimulating as the rest of it.
A constant on your adventure are triangular arches that can be seen in the distance of every area. Reaching these milestones really is the only solid objective in Shape of the World. The way you get there, that is the game.
While you wander, you’ll run into and collect various seeds floating across areas of the game that you’re free to fling around the world as you wish. When you do, they immediately sprout out flowers, trees, and plants of all shapes and colors like the pages in a pop-up book. Allowing yourself to really take in all of the sensory information in Shape of the World, and be open to the short journey ahead can lead to moments of relaxation, wonder, and even surprise. Half way through the game, I thought that I had seen all of the game’s tricks, when I suddenly found a monument that allowed me to briefly fly for short distances.
That same abstract nature at the heart of Shape of the World can at times also be a detriment. With little direct communication with the player, at times you can get lost in Shape of the World not because you’re so immersed in it, but because you’re just not sure which direction you should be headed. There is a visual language and an indirect way the game tries to communicate with the player to guide them, but for the first thirty minutes of the two hour experience I was still trying to understand the game and it led to brief moments of confusion that then lead to a distance between me and the game.
Adding to that confusion is how Shape of the World sprouts an actual physical wall or border, instead of the typical invisible wall, when you reach the borders of levels that you can’t access. Having actual dead ends slowly emerge from the ground when you’re lost is frustrating. There are also moments where I found myself clipping through structures, but given the game’s abstract nature, I’m still not sure if that was on purpose or a technical issue. Thankfully, after those first moments I was able to connect with Shape of the World, and the discoveries I made in my playthrough did leave me in short bursts of amazement.
Shape of the World won’t be for everyone. It’s a colorful and at times moving interactive experience that is worth the time if you’re open to it, but it’s so outside the mold of what some would consider a ‘traditional experience’ that it may alienate some. For those interested, you will find a game that does some wondrous things with shape, color, and sound that at times can be messy, but as a whole it’s well worth the trip.
Code for Shape of the World was provided by a PR representative for the game, who is a personal friend of some of our staff and the writer. The game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro with footage for the video review captured on the Nintendo Switch.