TGL is looking back at our favourite games of 2012. Next up – Queasy Games’ “Sound Shapes”.
Sound Shapes was originally released in August on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
Sound Shapes is perhaps one of the more literal, honest and unembroidered names to be given to any game in the last number of years; it is exactly what it says it is. The synaesthetic compositions, pulse and shape of this world are wholly and unapologetically defined by sound and the sound of music. This is a world completed by pure music, a space which runs off of the creative guile of every rallying rhythm and every candid cadence. Sound Shapes is pure indulgent musical genius, doing enough to feel like you’ve experienced something like it before, while adding a unique twist to your typical rhythm music game in the process.
What you have here is essentially a classic side-scrolling platformer. You control a circle avatar that you must navigate around the world presented before you, collecting “coins” to generate sounds and cultivate a musical pulse. The more “coins” you collect, the more sounds you craft, all of which become layered on top of each other to create some clever, captivating and colourful music. One “coin” might generate the snap of a snare, the next a bulging bass line. As you collect more “coins”, the more complex and clever your music becomes. It’s unconstrained and is a very simple and effective concept.
Navigating these spaces and generating these sounds however is not as simple as it “sounds”, not least because each level is brimful of hazards, enemies, and obstacles which will halt your progress and even disintegrate your circular avatar, only to reappear at your last checkpoint. Each level is subdivided into different screens. Each screen features any number of checkpoints, allowing your circular avatar to reappear instantly should you fall afoul to any of the red zones or enemies that fill out the levels. The great thing about having so many checkpoints on each screen is that you never free disconnected from the experience, especially when it gets frustrating, and believe you me, it can. But it’s forever challenging and never tedious.
There’s five “albums” worth of mudic to trawl through, each one with a different musical and visual impetus. The former is just as impressive as the latter, akin to what you’ve come to expect from the creative minds at PixelJunk. Visually, it’s a stunner. This world feels completely organic and alive, even more so when you bring the world’s musical possibilities to life.
It shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to get through the main campaign, but that’s when the real fun begins. Death Mode ups the ante considerably, taking each level and making them infinitely more difficult. The contrast between the original campaign and Death Mode is simply incredible. This is the only way you can actually earn trophies in the game to boot. Sound Shapes makes you work hard for your rewards, but it’s worth it.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Sound Shapes’ level editor, allowing players to create their own experiences and upload them to the online community. It’s really very simple to create your own worlds and you’ll find yourself toiling away in your editor for hours, not only creating your own actual level spaces, but creating your own music too. Genius.
Sound Shapes certainly ticks all the right boxes. It’s one of the most endearing and original PSN titles to come along in quite a while and is probably one of the PlayStation Vita’s best companion’s full stop. We can’t recommend this enough. Give it a chance. Better still, if you buy it on the PSN on your PlayStation 3, you get the Vita version for free. It’s a no brainer. You have no excuses.