There are many different ways that a game can be produced, but when it comes down to it, you need money to be able to develop a game. This means that we’re seeing more and more games popping up on websites like Kickstarter – Today, I’m looking at a successfully funded title called Shape of the World, funded by passionate backers from Kickstarter.
First of all, huge congratulations to the Hollow Tree Games team getting the game funded, making CA$79,367 (Approx. £46,760.45) through the contributions of 1,198 backers. This just shows that the gaming community is so generous and willing to help the new company break out with their first game when they’re presented with something entirely unique and different. So what is Shape of the World? Some people may argue that the game is a walking simulator, however the developers argue that the game doesn’t simulate walking by instead presenting an experience that just wants you to explore a world that is developing around you as you move through the game.
You’re not just walking through on a set track that is the same every time you play the game, the developers have designed the game in a way that will deliberately disorientate you; the game features a procedurally generated environment that is always changing – This means that if you backtrack through the game, things will not look like how you remember them. The game looks incredible as well, it especially reminds me of the type work I was doing on my GCSE art course, with a similar aesthetic. There are lots of shapes that are easy to distinguish such as rocks, trees, and flowers, but in a block colour giving it a very minimalistic style. It’s also way better than anything that I ever created with photo manipulations… This isn’t surprising when the lead developer is also a VFX Artist who’s previous titles include Gears of War 4.
One of the things that I love the most about this game is the way everything looks; its obvious you’re in a forest, but it’s not a dense forest like the Amazon or the Australian Bush. The development studio is based in Vancouver, Canada, which places them close to America’s Northwest coast where the trees are thin and tall, leading to a possible source of inspiration – With their minimalistic design and simple objects and stunning colours that are presented from their inspired locale, the game becomes something which is a marvel to look at. Imagine you’re out for a relaxing walk in the forest, and the world is constantly changing with beautiful contrasting colours that only pull you further into the forest, the game just makes you want to keep pushing to see what you can find… Just maybe avoid playing this game if you enjoy playing games while consuming recreational substances… Or don’t. It could be an amazing experience within this psychedelic world.
If you’re someone who enjoys guidance through games, this may not be the right type of game for you; besides a few little pointers and graphical changes to show when you can do things with your mouse, there is very little guidance. The game is all about going into the world blind and exploring your way around. If you do want some more guidance, there are achievements that can be collected when playing the game that ranges from collecting everything to going various distances if you want a bit more direction in your play session.
Finally, the last thing to talk about is the audio. It’s incredible, it adds to the gameplay more than any other game I have played – If you want a good idea of what it’s like before you play the game, imagine the Oxygen Trilogy by Jean-Michel Jarre, except it’s more chilled and chord-based rather than melodic. The most impressive part is that the music changes as you go through the game, it reflects what’s happening in the world and grows with it, together, the art style and the music are what make this game great through their unison and harmony.
While I received a copy of the game for PC, it is also available to buy on PS4, Xbox One and (Shock horror) Mac as well. Sorry to the players on Linux, the game isn’t available on your platform just yet, but on the Kickstarter they didn’t rule out the possibility of the game being ported over. The game can be bought on Steam for £10.29, PS4 for £11.99 and £12.49 on Xbox One, and for those of you who own a Nintendo Switch, it’s a little more expensive at £13.49. At these prices, I wouldn’t really recommend buying the game unless you really enjoy supporting indie development studios… But it’s an experience that I can definitely recommend. If the game goes on sale on any of the platforms above, sure, go for it, it’s something I would absolutely recommend experiencing.
Taking everything into consideration, I going to give this game a 7.8. The game is beautiful and provocative, and if you’ve got a good 2-4 hours free, you can easily complete the game. The only thing dragging the game down is its’ price. At this cost, I personally would want a little more from the game.