Short, imaginative and stunning. That’s how I would summarize Shape of the World. This is much more of a work of art than that of a traditional game, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t deserve your time and attention, quite the opposite, in fact. Shape of the World has you travelling through its lush and serene environments as life itself blossoms each and every step of the way. It’s unlike anything you will have experienced on a home console before and on that score, it’s certainly a welcome addition to the Xbox One Storefront.
The beauty of State of the World is that of its message. This isn’t something that comes tied to a story, but more of a reflection as to how you perceive it. Shape of the World, by and large, is pure emotion instilled in an experience that’s not too unlike a walking simulator. It’s a journey of discovery and serenity, one that oddly has you frequently lost in its appeal. There’s no evil, no stress, no mission structure or clocks ticking by, it’s just you and an ever growing world that reveals more of its splendor to you as you progress. That’s its message.
Sure, straight off the bat, this isn’t going to be for everyone. Though, if you’re looking for something new, relaxing and paced, State of the World should be on your radar. The aim of the game is to move through a series of large red triangles, each of which once met, will generate more of the world that you’re walking through. I’ll point out, the game already looks completely distinct and unique, but for every triangle that you pass through, its range of psychedelic colors and terrain design just continuously takes it that one step further.
There’s some light engagement to contend with to help with the flow of the game. This includes the likes of hitting RT on specific rock formations to ultimately produce a lush set of floating stairs. It adds a nice connection between the player and the game, but its true engagement always and consistently rests with its gorgeous foundation. The game starts you out in a forest but will gradually take you through some other interesting locations, such as that of a cave system as well as some dream-like fantasy-esque surroundings.
Adding further to its interesting layout, objects such as large stones will shoot you high into the air to aid you on your journey in finding the next location. Players can also interact with the wildlife and flora, which can alter the journey in some mildly interesting ways. On top of that, seeds can be collected to plant trees wherever you like. There doesn’t seem to be more to this than that, but it’s a neat addition regardless. Perhaps it’s a metaphor, given the state of the world that we live in. In any case, it’s completely down to your perception.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Shape of the World’s more alluring aspect is its visuals. The game is so colorful and so well laid out, it’s hard not to appreciate its dynamic design. Watching the very world and its inhabitants evolve and adapt as you proceed is a surreal experience, one stuck with me long after I put down the controller. The ever changing soundtrack also gets a thumbs up from me, presenting Shape of the World with another layer of intrigue and wonder. It’s a shame, then, that some framerate issues break this up.
I noticed on more than one occasion that the game would stutter and drop its otherwise consistent pace. This breaks immersion and when we take into account that that’s all that Shape of the World relies on, it can be a kick in the teeth. Still, even with that in mind, I don’t at all regret my time with the game. It’s refreshing to see something unique and remarkably well crafted. Again, this isn’t going to be for everyone and the lack of activity may turn some away. The bottom line however, is that the game achieves exactly what it set out to accomplish.
Shape of the World is a beautiful journey that offers a relaxing and well paced experience. Its core function consists of simply exploring its world and taking in its lush surroundings. There’s a few framerate issues to contend with and the lack of activity within certainly wont appeal to everyone. However, if you come into this without any expectations, you’re in for a stunning short journey that seamlessly captivates.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.