What makes a video game?

There are games out there that are made to be aesthetically pleasing. Players can enjoy good visuals presented to them in awe. Every once in a while, there comes a game where the aesthetics are the gameplay itself.

Shape of the World is one of those games.


Reviewed: PS4
Platforms:
 PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Hollow Tree Games
Publisher: Hollow Tree Games
Release Date: June 5, 2018
MSRP: $14.99
Review code provided by Hollow Tree Games.


Exploration is the main gameplay of this game.

Going places, seeing sights, and trying to just relax. That’s the goal of the game for the player. However, people do have different ways of relaxing, so that’s not to say the game is for everybody.

Gameplay is minimal in Shape of the World. It’s almost nonexistent. You walk around, you can jump, and you can interact with something. Oh, and you can plant seeds which will grow into instant trees once you collect seeds. With almost nothing to do, the game can seem kind of barren.

Of course, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And I believe in that saying. If you’re going to make a game that centers itself on looks and looks alone, then chances are you’re going to get people who don’t like the way something looks.

I have issues with the way Shape of the World presents its visual elements. Personally, speaking from experience from playing the game, I got dizzy and a little stressed out after playing for a while. Perhaps it had something to do with the visual elements. Depending on the color palette of the game, I had a hard time trying to figure out what I was looking at before realizing it was a wall.

Exploring as well can be a bit lackluster. You see, I thought the world would be generated in a random way that I will explore new worlds again and again. Except, that in Shape of the World, color is the difference between each area and just color.

Once you go through a triangle that looks suspiciously like the Abstergo logo in Assassin’s Creed, the world will change its color. Sometimes it feels like you’re exploring something different, like from snow to a leafy forest. At times, it can feel like nothing changed at all except for the color.

If you’re planning on going to another area, your journey may be cut short. You see, obstacles grow the more you get nearer to something and then they disappear the farther you are away. This honestly ruins the spirit of exploration for me as I can’t even go where I want to before figuring out that I can’t.

The only thing noteworthy I found were these cute little monster critters that looked much like sea animals. It does give me a slight clue that perhaps Shape of the World takes place underwater. But there are also elements that contradict that theory. There’s really no way to know where you are exactly.

There is no story in this game.

There isn’t even some clue as to what we’re doing or some background as to what it is we’re exploring. We’re dropped in a world where we’re just supposed to see and relax. For many, that may not be able to work.

Final Opinion:

There’s much to be said about a game that chooses style over substance.

Perhaps it’s taste, perhaps it’s execution, either way, I just can’t honestly say that I like Shape of the World. The world presented to us feels lackluster. It simply needed something more. I found myself unable to relax at the game.

In order for me to feel the desire to explore something, I have to be curious. If you limit your world based on color alone, then curiosity goes out the window. And in extent, so is my desire to have a look around. While changing color can change the atmosphere of a certain location, it’s difficult to use color changing gimmicks to keep us interested.

Truth be told, I felt my eyes hurting a bit after watching color changing a bit too much and staring too long at something trying to figure out what it is. Perhaps it’s just me, but I wanted to put my thoughts out there.

Color contrasts like these make my eyes hurt after staring too long

I would’ve been more interested in exploring different creative visual worlds than just one area that changes color. Maybe it can be in outer space on another planet, maybe it can be underground in a lost civilization, or maybe it can even be some Heavenly looking place. There would’ve been so many more things interesting than the world presented.

Perhaps I simply didn’t go far enough. In any case, I decided to stop playing when my eyes hurt too much to the point I could no longer keep going. Even when I went back there’s simply nothing there that interested me too much.

There are people who do like this game, and I’m happy that they do. It’s just not for me.

4
Below Average
Shape of the World (PS4)
Score Definition
You’ll be left out with a “meh” after finishing the game. What game did we just play?
Pros
Cute animals
Good Visuals in Right Conditions
Cons
Bad Visuals in Wrong Conditions
Lackluster Exploration
Too Small of a World
Possibly Eye Damaging