Community Review: Sound Shapes

Community Review: Sound Shapes

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.


  • I got it on Friday, have only played tracks from the first “album”, liking it so far.

    I agree about the visuals, they clear a space for the audio experience. If the on-screen action was too complex the audio might be missed.

    Its not much of a challenge at this stage. Maybe it’ll get harder as it goes. Cant wait to get to the beck levels.

  • It’s a shame that Beck album is so short, it was by far my favourite. I haven’t had tried much community levels (I play on the train mainly) or Death Mode. I quite liked how the experience wasn’t frustrating. Not sure I want to taint that with Death Mode.

  • Sound Shapes got me excited about music again. This is an incredible achievement. Such an amazing game.

    And there’s a pretty sweet Mortal Kombat user-created level in there too.

  • I certainly had a great time with the game, it’s not a difficult game, but it has some hairy moments…

    The levels inspired by Beck were nice, but I much preferred the Corporeal and deadmau5 levels.

    Death Mode was nothing like I expected, was thinking limited lives/check points and time limit on the stages, but instead we have single screen obstacle courses.

    The only problem with this mode was the fact it was so random, where you could get layouts that were impossible due to distance, that aside, you will die alot, it can get frustrating, but they aren’t that bad and can be knocked over within a few hours.

    Beat School I wasn’t sold on though, understand it as a tool to learn about laying down a beat which could be used to make your own level, but in the end it’s just trial and error with no incentive to complete them.

    Never got around to making a level for myself, but I will certainly be picking up any album DLC they are supposedly going to be releasing in the future.

    Worthy purchase seeing as it falls under the CrossBuy banner, but I think overall it’s more enjoyable on the Vita.

  • The game was okay, but some of those death mode levels were absolute RNG bullshit.
    Some of the unlucky spawns made it physically impossible to complete some stages in time no matter how freaking good you are at the game. 10% skill, 90% luck. Done them all, uninstalled.

  • I’m playing this at the moment and I’m really enjoying it so far – however, I must admit that I’m practically nowhere within the story mode, having only purchased it last night, and have not had the chance to delve right in.
    I was intrigued by the concept as soon as it was announced and, if I can stop wasting time here talking about how I haven’t had time to play it, I’ll start playing it.

  • bought over the weekend after signing up for ps+… very nice… great idea… first level i played was a mortal kombat theme inspired community level and while the design elements weren’t that great it actually worked and sounded pretty damn cool

    highly rate this little gem

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