Shape of the World is a hypnotic exploration game

Shape of the World began life with a successful Kickstarter, back in 2015. From first glimpse, it may just look like a Proteus clone, but it offers more than just an empty world to explore. Shape of the World is a relaxing and hypnotic journey, propelled by an ambient soundtrack that sets the mood for the ever changing landscape.

Developer, Hollow Tree, has created  a gorgeous, low poly, procedurally-generated world that morphs and grows as you move through it. Shape of the World is a first-person exploration game. There’s no story or mystery to uncover, but nevertheless it is compelling.

Every step through the world sees it grow and change; hills form and trees shoot up before you. The controls allow you to scatter spore-like seeds, which then sprout to form more trees. You can also destroy trees to clear a path, which pulls you forward more quickly. But there’s no need to worry about the destruction because  you can replant them using your seeds.

There are goals within Shape of the World. Giant, triangular gateways of light stand out across the landscape. Head towards one of those and as you go through, the whole character of the world changes. You may go from a scene of yellow trees, with pink foliage and turquoise creatures undulating past you and then transport to a black world of rocks and azure shrubs, fuchsia waterfalls and amorphous blobs floating around.

The point of the game is to find the next gateway, plant seeds and go on the journey through this beautiful world. As levels progress, simple puzzles are introduced, but that almost overstates the complexity. Shape of the World is the epitome of relaxing gaming.  There are no levels, just gateways and the loosest sense of a goal. The screen has no numbers or units to count, no guns, no enemies. There is no lose, no win, just a relaxing float through incredible vistas.

There are creatures you encounter, but none of them are aggressive. Sometimes you float through a gateway and find yourself in an underwater cave, shifting the whole feel of the world, which is already a floating fantasy.

The music is a major driving force in Shape of the World, at times feeling like an Ozric Tentacles experiment in psychedelic prog dance music. As you float along a ribbon-like path, up through the trees, the music soars with you, which really gives you a surge, pulling you ever forward. But ultimately, Shape of the World simply invites you into its world to explore, relax and take a moment to fly through its beautiful fantasy.


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