Shape of the world is a laid back exploration game in which the world grows around you and you are given free rein to explore the world around you, with marked landmarks as guidance. Even though a couple of hours play through at most, this game offers so much for you to go back and do and completely immerses you for the time you are playing. Released 6/06/2018 on the Nintendo E-Shop, this game is an accomplishment Plug in Digital should be proud of.
There isn’t really a structured plot to the game outside of exploration of the world around you. However the game is split into nine chapters which you head from a valley to the summit of a mountain, visiting a swamp, rainforest and cave on your journey. This adds some subtle structure which helps guide you along, even though you play at your own pace and explore the vibrant environment that grows around you. It was also fun to have no introduction to the mechanics of the game, with no voice over and a few words on-screen to get you started and then you just head off in which ever direction you want and figure things out on your own, making the journey feel a lot more satisfying than games which feature heavy tutorial sections.
Plug in Digital nailed the art direction for the game. The environments seem minimalistic, yet so full. The game begins in a totally white canvas, however the colour explodes onto the screen, starting pink and purple and then changing every time you reach a landmark, allowing you to see the world in a different way which each time felt special and not just like another lick of paint had been added. The environments are well designed, with each area having a different theme which creates a different atmosphere each time you make progress. My favourite of these areas being the cave as it felt the most different from the rest of the others as you deal with water a lot more. The designs of the creatures are also fun and varied, being weird and wonderful, adding much-needed life to the environment. It’s fun to just watch them interact the world around them, and even to watch how they react to you.
The sound-scape for the game works very well in immersing you into Shape of the World, especially when using headphones. The music can seem a little sinister at times, however it motivated me to continue playing and fine more in the world around me, like I was on the verge of a discovery, leading to a climax fitting the beauty of the end of the game. My favourite sound is that of the creature that floats around in the sky, making whale like sounds as you wander below.
The game plays very well, taking a slow and steady approach. You are introduced to the core concepts of the game in the opening, such as how to interact with the world and certain key things to progress, however then you are thrust into the world and left to walk about. The landmarks are signified by large white and red triangles dotted around the area which you have to go through. Once you go through all of the checkpoints in an area you progress to the next level. The game’s slow pace isn’t restrictive, and really allows for you to appreciate the places you explore, instead of rushing through them like in other games. However if you want to move faster, you can use the trees around you to have a little boost. There are also 27 seeds hidden throughout the game which after you collect you can use to grow tree around the world. You won’t find them all the first time you play meaning you can go back through the game and complete the collection, and possibly discover more than you did the first time.
Shape of the World is truly a great game and a must have for your collection, being intuitive and vibrant and immersive. With my time with the game, I’ve had multiple play-throughs and enjoyed each as much as the last, taking a different route or finding all the seeds. Shape of the World is truly a game to be proud of.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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