This is wonderfully serene piece of solitary meandering through a
colourful world that responds organically to your presence. Things grow,
critters caper, sky-whales drift by. A soothing ambient soundtrack
overlays your exploration, and it’s
almost disappointing when you get to the end.
You start in a white wilderness, the only obvious objective a
triangle in the distance. Make your way there, and then pass through.
The world changes, becoming vibrant and alive. Walk around, watch trees
and grass and other things spring from the ground. Explore some more.
Eventually spy another triangle, and make your way there. Pass through
and do it again. It gets not a whole lot more complicated than that.
If it sounds one dimensional, it is, but it really isn't.
True, you locate the triangles and pass through, and do it again. But
you also collect seeds, grow things, knock down trees, and skip and jump
(figuratively). You whack things and poke things, and sky platforms
might unroll before you, enabling rapid transit to somewhere else, or an
underground lake might fill with water to float you to a way forward not
previously available. Hit some things and get sucked forward and
propelled into the air, and bounce your way around by hitting more of
them over and over. Fly and swim and run.
The environment changes as you approach it. A series of water rapids
might emerge between where you are and the triangle in the distance,
becoming a barrier to work your way around. Critters can impact your
progress as well; largish jellyfish things bumped me from my desired
path more than once.
To be clear, I didn't stand around thinking how might I change things
to move on. It was far more dynamic than that. I was constantly moving,
prodding and poking and trying to move towards the triangle. Or find it.
I found paths that dead ended and precipices that I fell off (you don't
die). On many occasions I wasn't sure I wasn't backtracking, or
exploring a spur to where I really wanted to go. It didn't matter. I
just kept moving, and eventually got to where I wanted to be.
You pass through eight realms on your way to the summit
valley, shore, cove, swamp, woodlands, rainforest, caves and mountain.
They are different topographically, and it might also be night or
raining or underground.
The world generates as you move through it. This accentuates the
dynamic nature, but I assume it also means you don't need the same
processing power that would be required if you built the whole world
upfront. It works though, whatever the motivations.
The game saves automatically and I wasn't ever sure when that had
occurred. You can resume from the menu, or pick a chapter start point
(one of the realms, assuming you have been there).
My playtime was two hours, and while I am never terribly interested
in Steam achievements, here they give an idea of how big the world might
be. I got the Explorer achievement, which comes from walking 15,000
metres. The major walking achievement is Time For New Shoes, which you
get when you hit 50,000 metres.
Shape of the World isn't a game in the traditional sense of that
word. However it is way better than so many things I have played
recently. Having finished, I went back, and have no interest in getting
to the end. Rather, I will explore every nook and cranny, bask in the
world that I create, and ultimately get those new shoes.