Sound Shapes is such a unique game. It’s a platformer but heavily invested in music as well. It’s a game bringing amazing yet simple visuals coupled with a musical score powered by some famous artists like Beck. The real hook? Collecting orbs scattered around the level will manipulate and change the way the level’s song is being played. It’s a music game but one that just doesn’t fit into established categories forged previously by games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, or even DJ Hero. Does this music world strike a harmonious chord or does it need to be tuned?
Full review after the jump…
Sound Shapes isn’t so much about a story as it is about platforming gameplay. You’re essentially a rolling ball which can roll, bounce, and stick on surfaces to make it to a turntable in five worlds with 20 overall levels. The gameplay can be boiled down to a side scrolling platformer with a minimalistic style to it. Each level features collectible orbs that when collected will add a different audio element to the soundtrack. While the beginning track is very simple, collecting the orbs changes the song by adding instruments, notes, and rhythms until the song becomes more complete. Part of the charm of the game is that it doesn’t try to beat you into submission like other platformers such as Super Meat Boy. The visuals and music create this euphoria giving off a more artistic vibe and making you very happy in the process.
While the campaign is relatively on the short side, though once you beat it you do gain access to two additional modes. Death Mode is for the hardcore. It’s the game’s challenge mode where you are tasked with collecting a certain amount of orbs within a time limit. The situations you’re put in are also on the tough side. Beat School on the other hand is more of a music style mode. Gamers are challenged to listen to a sequence of music and then recreate it using the in game editor and the tools provided. It’s another challenging mode but for a completely different reason. Both should keep you going for quite a while.
The real star of this game is the art design and music. The five worlds or “albums” are broken down into very different themes each with it’s own art design and music style. You’re getting worlds created by artists like Vic Nguyen, Superbrothers, Pyramid Attack, Pixeljam, and Colin Mancer. Because of this, the five albums all have a very unique vibe to them. Musicians like Jim Guthrie, I Am Robot And Proud, Deadmau5, and Beck were also assigned each to their own album breathing life into the art design. While I loved all 5 albums, the Cities album by Beck/Pyramid Attack and CORPOREAL from Superbrothers/Jim Guthrie really stood out to me. I love CORPOREAL’s take on a twisted corporate hell and Beck’s music on Pyramid Attack’s Cities album rival’s some of his best work. Each album features unique scenarios and gameplay mechanics while staying true to the music aspect.
Similar to other Play.Create.Share. games on Sony’s console, Sound Shapes gives players access to a really cool editor. The editor essentially acts as a sequencer so adding an item higher on the map will have a different tone than one placed at the bottom. In the same aspect, placing something on the left side will play before an object on the right so essentially, you can create a song very easily by placing objects in the world. With even more objects/items being unlocked for completing levels, you’ll soon be able to make some pretty intricate stuff. You’ll be able to quickly create levels and share them to the community in addition to browsing community levels and play them as well.
For 15 bucks, Sound Shapes is quite a steal. Not only do you gain the PS3 version, but you’ll gain access to a Vita version of the game as well. It’s essentially a two for one deal and the best news is that the games use a cloud saving feature so you can move from your PS3 to the Vita without issue.
Sound Shapes is one of those high quality titles that just snuck up on me. I really wasn’t prepared for how engrossing and mesmerizing the experience would be. If you twisted my arm enough for a negative, the only thing I’d be able to come up with would be the fact that after I completed the campaign I wanted more. I’m really hoping that Queasy Games is working on DLC because I really can’t get enough. With a mix of beautiful visuals, solid gameplay, and a fantastic soundtrack, Sound Shapes is extremely easy to recommend. It’s one of my favorite games of 2012 and well worth the purchase.
Sound Shapes gets 5 rhythmic beats out of 5