Sound Shapes hands-on

By c_rake, Posted 13 Jun 2012

Queasy Games' long-awaited Vita debut is shaping up soundly.


Developer: Queasy Games
Publisher: Sony
Release Date: August 7th
Platform(s): PS3, Vita
Genre: Platformer

Everyday Shooter creator Johnathan Mak and his studio Queasy Games were one of the first to throw support behind Sony's new hand-held gaming platform the PlayStation Vita with Sound Shapes. Though it's since missed it's original release window (it was first slated to arrive around the Vita's launch) the game is now appearing on PlayStation 3 and looks to be coming together swell.

The game was being demoed on both platforms, the Vita showing the tutorial and level editor while the PS3 showed some full-fledged levels in addition to the editor. In the game, you control a small yellow ball that's tasked with collecting dots strewn about each level that produce music. Sound Shapes is a platformer where music is incorperated deep into the gameplay, the soundtrack not playing until you've begun gathering dots.

Despite its simplistic aesthetic, the game looks striking when it wants to be.

An easily achived goal, for you can stick to any just about any surface to climb wherever it is those elusive dots lie. Moving about the rocky environs of the demos kept a sense of ease, grounding its challenge to avoid frustration. Obstacles were few and far between, darts and red pads bypassed through vigilance and deft reflexes, frequent checkpoints ensuring no loss of progress should you fall into death's grasp. Disabling your sticky outline to roll at high speeds puts you at that risk quite often, a necessity for crossing large gaps.

Platforming never became difficult in any of the levels I played. Barriers were vanted over with little failure, infrequently emerging. The design philosophy bases the levels around the music, everything else secondary save for visual theme. A facility of sorts in the middle of an icy climate, for instance, was scored with slow, echoing notes undercut by a series of quick electronic hits, lending the scene it's sense of mystery.

The Superbrothers lend their artistic talents

It isn't hard to imagine, however, how stages could be devilish designed through careful mapping of levels and dots. Temptation is a powerful force -- we all persue collectables wherever possible, no matter how percariously placed or tedious the task of obtaining them are -- and the community is sure to exploit it. I didn't get a chance to experiement with the level editor because I, uh... I broke it. Scrolled too far on the Vita version and basically made the game freeze. So... sorry 'bout that.

The only reservation I have is that the audio and gameplay don't jive -- the music feels tacted on to an otherwise basic platformer. Aesthetic and music genre variety lend some style, and the concept itself is soundly executed. But I worry the game won't use the concept to its fullest, content to remain a platformer with a cool idea than a genius marriage of gameplay and sound. Expect a full review from us once we get our hands on the full game on August 7.

Callum Rakestraw
, NoobFeed.

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