Shape of the World is a first-person exploration game that builds on ideas explored in Proteus, Flower, and perhaps even Bastion, to an extent. As you move forward, a natural ecology of trees, bushes, hills, and rocks grows right before your eyes. It makes for a wonderful sight.
However, if you turn around, you’ll see that everything that was once there has died out already. It’s a game that reminds us of the ephemerality of nature – how quickly it can come and go. There are also eras for you to discover, each of which have their own “recipe” of colors, trees, ground foliage, and air particulate. To experience each one you’re required only to move forwards, going through lush periods, desolate periods, storms and snowfall.
As everything appears and dies out around it means that it could be easy to get lost. This is something that Shape of the World’s creator Stuart Maxwell wants us to experience, as he does when wandering the grand forests of Vancouver, Canada. However, not everything is impermanent in this world. There are “gates” to seek out and find, appearing as large pyramids projected into the sky as huge icons at first, then shrinking in size as you get closer and closer.
Once you arrive at a gate you get the chance to put down a landmark, a sculpture that will last forever, at that point in the world. “These are permanent, and you’ll watch them endure the eras. It is through our art that we endure the passing of time,” Maxwell said. And so Shape of the World is not only about the cycle of nature and life, but also how we, as humans, try to outlast our mortality through the things we create.