The Shape of the World markets itself as an artistic immersive explorer that guides you on a journey to unwind. So from the off, there is no mission structure, no enemies, and basically nothing to do. It’s more of an experience than a game and not a very good one at that.
The game is set in the first person with nothing on the screen to clutter your view. The controls are as simple as they come, use the sticks to look around and move as you would expect. The R2 button interacts with certain objects and the L2 button throws a seed. That’s about it.
As you explore the world you will discover objects you can interact with, some will create a stairway or a path while others will give you a much-needed burst of speed. This is where the seed comes into play. You can throw a seed, which will then grow a tree. Interact with the tree and you will be propelled forward. The only fun I had in this game is chaining what I call tree bursts together just to get to the exit as fast as I could.
That’s all you have to do in the game really, just wander around each of the chapters and reach the gate to progress to the next dull chapter. Each level is sparsely decorated with trees, fauna, rocks and water. There isn’t actually much to look at other than the wildlife that scuttles away from as you approach it. There are various things (plants or seeds I think) you can collect from each of the chapters but other than that it, just a slow slog through some of the most eye-watering- headache inducing coloured levels I have had the misfortune to experience.
As you walk through the level getting lost, the environment and flora continuously grows and fades and changes colour as you travel at times the 4K colors are mesmerizing but for the most time the colors are so pale and sickly in color that it gave me eye strain trying to see what was ahead which then gave me a headache. As a designer, I perhaps see things differently from other people, but I found the whole thing quite uncomfortable.
This is a difficult game to review for me. This is a walking sim and I’m still trying to get to grips with the fact that this is actually a genre in gaming. I get it though, games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture are walking games but there was a story behind it all and it grabs you and locks you into its world. This just seems like pointless meandering though vile coloured levels. But I do understand that some people dig the walking genre, but even those people will struggle to see the point of this game.
There is a dynamic soundtrack behind all this which is the only thing that pushed me forward as it responds to your travels and shifts with the visuals, but this is no REZ. If you’re into your super chilled mega relaxed music, you’ll like what’s on offer here. Each chapter has a different chilled out melody to make our ears relax while your eyes start to bleed.
This is the sort of game at first glance would scream out for VR support but after my playthrough and the headaches, I would rather this one game that didn’t get the VR treatment. This game was is being sold as a well-crafted respite from the everyday grind. And while yes it may be well-crafted, it gave me more of an eyestrain than an 8-hour shift in a kaleidoscopic Imax cinema
The Shape of the World is an experience so I can’t really review it as a game. But as an experience, it fails to ignite my imagination in any way. I was bored very quickly and there isn’t much on offer either with only XXX chapters to explore. These can be played over again from the main menu. I certainly didn’t feel relaxed and didn’t unwind like the game would have you believe you would, and I really didn’t want to replay any of the chapters again. I’m sure if our very on Sean reviewed this game he would have waxed lyrical about it because he loves this stuff, it just stressed my eyes out more than a psychedelic rave in a rainbow.
The marketing email told me it’s time to experience the pleasure of getting lost. The only pleasure I got was turning it off.
Shape of the World is available on Switch, PlayStation 4 (reviewed) Xbox One and Steam
Developer / Publisher: Hollowtree Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided a copy of the game from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.