Name: Shape of the World
Developer: Hollow Tree Games
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
Reviewed on: PC
Initial Release Date: 05.06.2018
Acquired: A demo of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose

Sometimes I find myself wondering what must be in a game, to actually call it a game. Does it need a story? Does it need a purpose? Does it need instructions on what to do? If that is the case, Shape of the World is not a game – but it is enjoyable. Time to try #ShapeOfTheWorld

Shape of the World can be described more as an experience, than a game. An audio-visual journey through psychedelic environments. Without any explanation of what to do or why you are doing it, you are left alone to decide for yourself.

As you walk along the path, the trees grow around you and you encounter creatures. Small mushrooms bounces around and worms erects from the ground. I also had a flying experience with a white whale. I did say it was psychedelic.

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The whole game is supposedly one to three hours long, although I can not confirm this because I did not have access to the entire game.

The Good

The graphics in the game is colorful, in a simple way. Each new part you get to has a simple palette of colors, and as you progress or do specific things these change. A very smart way of keeping it simple, without it getting boring. It also gives the same scenery a whole different feel to it.

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The music changes a lot as you progress, and it feels very relaxing. Interacting with the environment has different effects, everything from creating bridges to exploding the poor little mushroom into a cloud of pixel-dust. Or plant trees and use them as your own musical playground afterwards.

The Bad

Shape of the World is not for everyone. If you like a clear story, some action or puzzles, this is clearly not for you. If you ever played Flower or Journey and liked it, then this might tickle your button. I started this article by questioning whether this is a proper game, or an “audio-visual journey software”, and some people will absolutely not classify this as a game.

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The second thing is something I am truly split about. There is simplicity, and then there is… emptiness. I struggle to decide if the lack of ANY details in the game is horrible or brilliant. In some color-schemes I encountered, it felt quite dull. Then others felt quite rich. Maybe this is the intention? I have no idea, but I really struggle to find out whether I love it or dislike it.

The last thing is a small confession. Whenever I get games like this, I intentionally try to “break the game” by doing everything except what I am supposed to do. In this game, I managed to get stuck several times in different places so badly that I needed to start over from the beginning. I guess curiosity does have some drawbacks.

The Verdict

The first thing I have to make absolutely clear about this verdict is that I have only been allowed to play a small portion of this adventure, and can not fully account for the final product.

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Shape of the World is not for everyone, but if you like the strange, the unusual and can see the beauty of simplicity and uniqueness, you will like this. A lot. It is unwinding, stress-free and enjoyable. They do have some finishing touches to do before it is done, so I will lower the score a little due to having game-breaking bugs. All in all, for the right person, this will be really good!

Early Access Score: 6/10

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Find the game on Steam

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