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Shape of the World Review (Switch)

by on July 5, 2018
Details
 
Release Date

June 5th, 2018 (PS4 and Steam)
June 6th, 2018 (Switch and Xbox)

Developer

Hollow Tree Games

 

I’m a huge fan of indie games that take risks and go against the norm.  While it doesn’t always resonate with every gamer, it is good for the market to have options for all types of gamers.  Shape of the World is one of those titles that do things against the norm.  It’s not action-packed.  There isn’t a story to speak of.  But if you want a unique world to explore for a few hours, then Shape of the World is for you.

The start of Shape of the World is a bit jarring.  You are in what looks like a snow covered area.  Visibility is very low.  Off in the distance, you can barely make out a triangle in the distance.  Since there are no other landmarks to speak of, you start towards the triangle.  As you get closer to the triangle, the visibility becomes clearer.  That’s when you get a true scope of the type of visuals in Shape of the World.

The world is alive as you explore.  Living beings (which resemble sea creatures) litter the landscape.  Trees appear from the ground before your eyes.  Mountain ranges and rocks grow as you walk.  Water surrounds you at times.  And that’s just the first triangle that you walk through!  The triangles work like portals to different dimensions in a single world.  The world changes in color and aesthetic whenever you walk through.  The procedurally generated world makes an endless amount of different areas to explore.

And exploration is the name of the game.  Your main objective (if you want to call it that) is to walk and explore the various ecosystems.  Sure, you can collect items like seeds as you explore.  But don’t expect to do much else in the game.  This game is meant to be a relaxing journey.

The gameplay mechanics are as simple as the objective of the game.  You can throw seeds, which grow into trees or bushes that you can interact with.  You can jump and interact with glowing columns.  These glowing columns will create a staircase to other areas of the world.  Often enough, it takes you closer to a portal and other areas to explore.  And that’s it!  No, there are no princes or princesses to explore.  You won’t have a time limit to go from point A to point B.  Explore to your heart’s content!

Shape of the World will find a niche with specific gamers.  I love the concept, but it didn’t appeal to me for a variety of reasons.  I don’t mind exploring, but the movement in Shape of the World is way too sluggish.  The normal walking speed is way too slow for me.  The staircases are much faster and an ideal way to get from one area to another.  Another strategy is to throw seeds to grow trees or plants.  When you interact with these (and other plants), you will get a boost of speed.  I used this a ton in my playthrough.

The other thing that didn’t appeal to me was the lack of story.  I would have loved a story that gave me a reason to explore.  Or at least a story that gave me something to think about.  Perhaps a narrator that can give you some thoughts as you explore.  I personally prefer some direction in games.  There will gamers out there who just want to be left alone to explore.  Shape of the World is a perfect game for those players, just not for me.

I must say that the visuals are incredible.  They are colorful and unique everytime you enter a realm.  I would not characterize Shape of the World as open world, but the environments are large enough.  You can walk a while before you hit areas that are not navigatable.  And the music fits so well!  It put me at ease and fit the crazy visuals.  Shape of the World really shines with the visual design.

I can give Shape of the World a score, but the score really doesn’t matter.  My experience may not be the same as yours.  At its heart, Shape of the World is an exploration game that will let you leisurely explore a colorful world with rich visuals.  But that’s about it.  It is definitely not my type of game, but it may be for you.  I suggest looking for a demo so you can give it a try.

 

Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.

Check us out at Opencritic!

Positives

Beautiful visuals
Wonderful music

Negatives

No story
Minimal objectives
Too short

Editor Rating
 
Gameplay
C

 
Graphics
A+

 
Story
F

 
Replay Value
C

Total Score
C

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Bottom Line
 

At its heart, Shape of the World is an exploration game that will let you leisurely explore a colorful world with rich visuals. But that's about it. It is definitely not my type of game, but it may be for you. I suggest looking for a demo so you can give it a try.

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