Sound Shapes Review
Jonathan Mak, founder of Queasy Games, made a quite a stir with his initial PSN release Everyday Shooter. It was back in late 2007, when the PSN was a barren wasteland of limited content, no trophies support and at times a solitary experience. Yet, there was this little gem of a shooter that ingeniously blended shooting mechanics with a guitar laced soundtrack. Fast forward almost 5 years and there is similar situation with Sound Shapes and Vita content. Also available as a PS3 download (a decision I do not agree with), Sound Shapes takes Mak’s impeccable musical ear and blends his sensibilities to the platforming genre.
Right off the bat, Sound Shapes presents itself in a minimalist fashion. The title screen can swipe to each direction; editor content, campaign, settings and community. There is this great vinyl aesthetic to the menus creating very clean and artistic visuals. The game opens to a simple tutorial showing you the basics. You control a blob type eyeball thing? (possibly just my imagination going crazy) Analog to move, X to jump, Right trigger to dash and you have the ability to cling to any surface that is not black. General rule of thumb in this game world is avoid the color red. Throughout each level are notes, as you collect notes, the music builds in the background, adding pieces to the looping background soundtrack.
The campaign consists of 5 albums, from musicians I am Robot and Proud, Jim Guthrie, Beck and Deadmau5. Each album has a unique graphical style designed by artists like PixelJam, Pyramid Attack and Superbrothers to name a few. It creates a varied experience as each album has a familiar theme throughout with visuals that complement the sound. There are particular standouts, like Superbrothers pixilated corporate world with Guthrie’s factory line type acoustics. My particular favorite is Beck’s Cities level, which masterfully combines art, music, lyrics and platforming.
The campaign takes roughly 2-3 hours to finish. With each level completed, you are given more tools to create own in editor mode. Once you finish all of them, you unlock Death Mode and Beat School. Death mode is a challenge type room for each level, Beat School challenges you to recreate some of the games melodies by just using your ears. Both modes are difficult and are a great incentive for challenge seekers and trophy collectors. The editor mode is very robust and there is plenty there to keep constructed minded players busy. Unfortunately, I do not have the finesse to create anything worthwhile. Luckily, there is community section, where plenty of players are out there tinkering with the game and creating custom standby’s like the Mario theme or the Legend of Zelda theme to platform through.
Sound Shapes skillfully blends music with gameplay. At times it can be almost transcendent. The levels pulsate and challenge you to the beat of the song. Listen carefully and plan your attack to the auditory cues and you will feel like a deft player that can take on any trial. Hopefully the community will keep this game alive with an endless supply of levels, but I would not be opposed to Queasy games updating with some more expertly crafted levels. Whether you have a PS3 or a Vita, give this game a chance, music lovers especially.