I love walking simulators. I love the violence of first-person shooters, too, but wandering around environments to see what I can see has its own strong appeal. Shape of the World is a beautiful one, not just visually but audibly. It asks the player to wander around a serene environment, picking up floating balls which change the colors and shape of the world, eventually unlocking the way forward. In addition to the changes prompted by picking up the floating balls, however, plant life grows around the player as they move.
The first thing Shape of the World reminded me of was Proteus. In Proteus, however, the player has no direct effect on the world. They explore, they find the trigger to change the seasons, and they explore again. There is something kind of like that in Shape of the World in that collecting all the floating balls in a cluster affects the shape of the environment. However, the constant growth of plants is something different. Watching trees and bushes sprout up around me, I felt like some forest goddess leaving life in my wake, especially since clicking the ground and the rocks causes more bushes to pop up and clicking on trees erases them.
In the demo build sent to me by developer Hollow Tree Games, I saw stones rise from the ground, watched the world shift through several color schemes, and ultimately climbed a road made of bars of light that grew in front of me to the top of a waterfall. This took me to the entrance of a cave that proved to be the end of the demo, but definitely left me wanting more to explore.
Hollow Tree Games is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the development of Shape of the World. At time of this writing, they’ve raised about 2/3 of their $75,000 goal with 9 days left. All of the screenshots and footage are representative of the game, so if it looks like something you’d be interested in, I encourage you to consider lending them your support.