Saturday Spotlight: Shapes & Sound: The Shape Shooter

Shape Shooter 1

Every so often a game comes along that nails the balance between a sleek, elegant design and simple, addictive gameplay. Shapes & Sound: The Shape Shooter, from Jamaican indie devs ARRG Studios, is one such game.

Let’s begin with the gameplay. Play begins with a single shape at the centre of the screen. This shape can be changed between circle, square and triangle by swiping upwards, left or right respectively. Shots can be fired from the central shape by tapping in the requisite direction. Other simple geometric shapes spin from the edges of the screen towards the centre, and players must shoot down the shapes that don’t match the centre whilst absorbing those that do. Larger shapes must be shot a few times to cut them down to size before they can be absorbed. Occasional special shapes are extra beneficial to absorb, offering health replenishment and the like.

So far, so simple. Picking up the game takes mere moments. In practice, however, it’s a lot trickier than it might seem. It doesn’t take long before a lot of shapes are spinning towards you at once, usually at variable speeds, and judging what to shoot down, what to absorb, when to change shape and which shape to change to are snap decisions you’ll be constantly making. Special abilities tied to shapes further spice up the gameplay.

The game is heavily stylised, a fact which should be evident from the screenshots I’ve included as well as ARRG’s own website. In fact, the video on their home page is about the best advertisement for the game I can think of. Why are you still reading? Check out the video and consider buying the game from the Play store.

Oh, right. I suppose I should justify writing for a website rather than running a YouTube channel. So the clean and clear design of The Shape Shooter is perfectly-judged for the gameplay: the crisp and distinct shapes help you to make the right call with those constant snap decisions, where the flashy light effects beloved of arena shooters would’ve occluded and distracted.

The sound effects are similarly minimalistic, with a watery droplet effect for firing shots and a soft chime for absorbing shapes. The music is ambient and mild, providing a soundtrack that complements play but doesn’t intrude. This all has the effect of making occasional auditory feedback – the beeps of incoming bombs which increase in frequency as they approach, for example – stand out more clearly and, again, enable players to focus on those snap decisions.

Sometimes there’s not much more to say about a game than that its design is coherent and focused, that its core gameplay is good fun, and that it doesn’t put a foot wrong. Shapes & Sound: The Shape Shooter isn’t going to change the world, but it’ll change your idle moments for the better.

Shape Shooter 2