Developer(s) – Hollow Tree Games
Developed by Hollow Tree Games, and inspired by the landscape and wilderness of the developer’s basis in Vancouver, Shape of the World is a procedurally generated first-person exploration game, whereby the object is for the player to walk around uncovering new facets of the world around them, and to lightly interact with environmental elements such as trees. After first previewing this game, I expected much more out of it than what was on offer, and after playing it for less an hour, I became quite bored of it.
Graphics – 6/10
The one aspect I can give this game some praise for at least is it’s conceptual design. The environments are made to look like something from a different world entirely, with vibrant uses of colour and outlandish scenery design. The soundtrack also does well to add to the sense of serenity, which the developers were trying to achieve. There are no graphical glitches to be found, but the problem with the visuals is that they can start to feel incredibly repetitive after a while, and unless players are solely in this game for the sense of calmness, it can get very old very fast.
Gameplay – 1/10
The objective of the game is to travel the world and uncover as many object hidden within the environment as possible and proceed in accordance with what paths are discovered. Short of that, there’s really nothing else to do, which to me, was incredibly disappointing. As a gamer, when I hear the terms “open-world” and “procedurally generated”, my first reactions are to assume that these elements are there for more reasons than simply setting out to make developers feel relaxed. I expect there to be things to do within the game beyond simple and bland environmental interactions. Frankly, I haven’t been this disappointed to play an open-world game since I played Proteus.
Controls – 9/10
With basic first-person mechanics, the game’s controls do what they are supposed to do, but my main gripe with the control scheme was that the movement was far too slow, which whilst may have been a desired effect to add to the game sense of peacefulness, to me, it was simply another frustration I had with it.
Lifespan – 3/10
Though the game may be procedurally generated, the game’s lifespan will only last as long as the gamer can hold their own interest in it, which if you’re a gamer looking for a traditional gaming experience, you will be extremely disappointed. Personally, as I said, I got bored after less than an hour of playing this game, and I commend anyone not looking for the developer’s desired intent who can manage to get further than that.
Storyline – 0/10
As there is no narrative, I suppose the only positive thing I could theoretically say about this aspect of the game is that it could possibly encourage a gamer’s imagination to think of their own story as they go; kind of a throwback to how video games used to be seen back in the days of the Atari. But otherwise, there is nothing in terms of a pre-written story, there is nothing, which again to me, was just another frustration to add to the long line of which when it came to playing this.
Originality – 0/10
Though a game may be able to argue the fact that the concept of this game being made for a purpose different to a traditional gaming experience is original in and of itself, it’s not the first time a game like this has been made; and a distinct fear of mine is that it won’t be the last either. To me, uniqueness in video games is how they look and play out differently to how other great games do so, and in this game, there is nothing unique as to how it plays out. With minimal mechanics and objectives, it is something far less than any other FPS game ever developed, and it’s simply not worth the asking price when there are bigger, better, and most like cheaper FPS games out there.
Overall, Shape of the World will be a massively disappointing game to anyone who may be looking for an immersing video game experience. If there are gamers who are looking to waste a few hours wandering around a procedurally generated limbo for the purposes of relaxation, then this may be up your street, but to me, this was ironically one massive frustration of an experience.