Queasy Games' Everyday Shooter is one of my favorite games of all time. The sequence when the first level opens and the infectious guitar riff begins is digital Prozac. It lifts me out of whatever funk I was in and opens the door to wonder and imagination, and it's almost impossible for anyone not to crack a smile for the duration of the first level. It also didn't hurt that Everyday Shooter's mechanics, in which every level put a different spin on the worn twin stick shooter genre, worked in perfect harmony with the game’s soundtrack. It's been nearly five years and I have yet to encounter another game (save maybe Child of Eden) that has such a passion for combining music and gameplay.
And then Sound Shapes came along. I enjoyed Queasy Games' long awaited follow-up for a few fleeting moments at E3 2011, but I devoured all five of the levels on display this year. Like Everyday Shooter, the concept is simple at first before slowly revealing a symbiotic relationship with the soundtrack.
On the surface Sound Shapes is a simple 2D platformer. You control a little ball, and you have to roll around and avoid obstacles. You also have the ability to stick to certain surfaces, as well as an option to run, which also happens to cancel out your stickiness. What follows are a series of trials and tribulations set out test one's manual dexterity in the realm of platforming.
Below the surface lies an entirely different layer of complexity. Levels are scattered with small collectables, and going out of your way to acquire them builds the level’s soundtrack. Eventually you'll discover that many of the level's challenges move in sync with the level's music, so it's to your benefit to collect as many of those things as you can.
It's also kind of neat that Sound Shapes is set to feature collaborations with popular artists from the world of both music and games. Deadmau5's level was built up to be the hardest of the bunch, and nailing the timing on some rotating cloud platforms was certainly tricky. I was completely taken aback by Superbrothers and Jim Guthrie level, which bordered more toward a series of puzzle rooms (complete with the minimalist art that made Swords and Sworcery so iconic) that platforming. This gives credence to Sound Shapes having that Everyday Shooter-like ability to keep mechanics identical while crafting different sorts of challenges within the game world. And, like Everyday Shooter, half of the fun is the surprise at finding out what you get to do next.
There was also a fairly robust creation mode on display, but I hadn't the time to check it out. In any case Sound Shapes is finally set to debut this August. Announced at the show was the news that a purchase on Vita would also net a free download on PlayStation 3, and vice versa. Better yet, like MotorStorm RC, the two games save data overlaps, making Sound Shapes a wonderful experience at home or on the go without the loss of progress.
Sound Shapes looks like it’s really going to be something special. Check back with us in a few months for a full review.