For the first weekend in a long time I played a game that wasn't Dark Souls. That game was Sound Shapes. It occurred to me that we hadn't had a Community Review for Sound Shapes, and I'd like to rectify that!
I really enjoyed Sound Shapes, and here's why.
For the most part, video games are a visual medium. When we take action in a game, that action is represented visually. Sure there are footsteps, the sounds of feet on gravel, or rustling through grass. Sure, the guns we fire make a nice noise, and click appropriately when we reload. But these things are typically extraneous. They add to the experience. They are not the experience.
In Sound Shapes, sound is the experience. Of course, the game is visual, quite pretty actually — in a Loco Roco, hyper hi-res, primary colour splish-splash sort of way — but sound is the star, and this point of difference allows the game to connect with you, not on a deeper level, but a different level. Sound Shapes feels different.
I'm a huge fan of video games that interact with you through sound, purely because it's such a rare thing, and it feels a bit primal. It gives you the goosebumps. It's why I love Flower, why I prefer Everyday Shooter to Geometry Wars — why I still maintain that Child of Eden is the Kinect killer app no-one bothered to play. Sound Shapes plays with sound in a similar way, but there are moments where it goes beyond that and becomes something different entirely.
One such moment occurs during the first level/track on the Beck album. As Beck sings, the lyrics appear on screen, they pipe up from chimneys in a stylised cityscape, it plays in loops, in a rhythm you can predict and learn. Then, as the back vocals ring out, they too are visualised, but become part of the level itself, creating a platform you can interact with. As the vocals fade, so too does the platform.
Sound Shapes made me realise something — seperating video games into discrete little blocks, and discussing them as such, can be largely useless. When writing about Sound Shapes, the temptation is to write only about the music itself — makes sense since it's the game's major point of difference — but really Sound Shapes works so well because everything is tightly integrated into one another. The game is called Sound Shapes: there is sound, and there are shapes. They work together to create the experience, not separately.
Sound Shapes — it's a clever little game. And beautiful. You should really play it.