Developer: Queasy Games, SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
The Modern Image, 2016, Jivesh Hanoomaun 2013, ‘PlayStation Plus August 2015 Lineup’, viewed 4th January 2016, http://themodernmage.com/playstation-plus-august-2015-lineup
(This review is based on the PlayStation Vita version and is available for the PS3 and PS4.)
Music is a medium made from instruments expressing a meaning or message. Sound Shapes is a game based on a simple idea around the effects of music. What a person imagines when listening to music.
Sound Shapes excels with its inspired execution of a typical game concept with gameplay that unravels the full composition of a song as you play through the level, paired with a gorgeous minimalist art-style. It also implements player created levels that has formed a community creating fun and visually pleasing content that adds significant replay value to Sound Shapes. Sound Shapes however struggles time to time in gameplay because the basic platforming skills can make navigation unnecessarily frustrating. With such strong positives paired against occasional rage inducing level navigation, it will be revealed if this flaw in gameplay ruins Sound Shapes great qualities.
The ultimate core of any video game is gameplay. It is the element that binds all of a video games engagement and there are many ways this element correlates with a games art and possible story. In Sound Shapes, the player can stick to objects with light colours, jump and run and use those ability’s to collect notes in a level while avoiding contact with anything red.
Notes in Sound Shapes play a beat and as the player collects notes, the levels song unravels to its full composition. The campaign is relatively short and unlocks tools for the level editor but offers a wonderful collection of levels that tease the possibility’s of the community’s offerings. The act of getting to point A to point B in Sound Shapes is pleasing because of the imaginative art designs in every stage and relaxed checkpoint pacing.
But an unavoidable problem with Sound Shapes is the occasional difficulty of navigating through certain levels, especially with user created content. While it is great to platform through such visually splendid levels, the spectacle of the stages can possibly distort the actual direction a player needs to head towards.This issue only really show its ugly head in user creations, where creativity often compromises ease of navigation, even when there are stand out creations.
It is rare to see a video games presentation be tied so closely to the actions between the player and the game. The colourful and appealing art style invokes a feeling of relaxation through pleasant stimulation. This is reinforced by how the sights and sounds of a level unravel as the player moves through it. It complements the soundtrack in all of its rich, varied and uplifting pieces. Rowdy Cloudy epitomises what makes Sound Shapes work.
In the beginning, the repeated sound of a flying platform hints at a incomplete song. Eventually, the first couple of notes create a catchy tune that incentives the player to progress. Once the momentum of the song comes alive, the players eye takes attention to the distinct marvellous art style on display. The realization comes that they make this art style come alive by their skill and dedication to collecting the notes. This impeccable utilization of design and sound is where Sound Shapes shines, the seamless blend of platform sensibilities and music’s ability to inspire the mind.
Sound Shapes at its very core is a basic sound platformer. The low key gameplay perfectly pairs with an admirable presentation while prevailing over challenges with a consistent casual difficulty, throwing enough challenge to keep interest going. The campaign’s length and memorable art design in its levels allows players jaded from the intensity of more realistic video games to reinvigorate the simple joy they find in the medium, even when artistic ambition conflicts with navigation in user generated levels.
Sound Shapes is a brilliantly executed musical game that ties platforming and the psychological effects of music to make a truly special game. It fills a need for players that isn’t commonly found in the modern gaming scene. To just enjoy a video game and leave a impact on its world.
- Perfect unity of gameplay/presentation
- Fun replay value from campaign/user content
- A wonderful game for portable entertainment
- Fairly priced DLC for the level editor
- A complete DLC pack costs $11.25AU ($9.00AU on PS Plus)
- Artistic ambition makes certain community levels a navigation nightmare
- Painfully short campaign