Why Shape Escape?
Shape Escape is a simple puzzle game in which you attempt to guide a small orb to the end of each level, tapping the screen to dodge spikes and land through holes. The levels range from incredibly easy to frustratingly difficult, and this radical learning curve is one of many things wrong with the game – it alienates the player in the very short span of a 30 second long stage.
As previously mentioned, gameplay really is as simple as ‘tap to jump’. Avoiding spikes will be your main priority, but the shoddy hit detection – I would often die when I grazed the side of a spike – means this is harder than it should be. The environment will frequently shift, meaning you’ll have to time your jumps to land through moving holes, which is hugely satisfying to pull off, but equally annoying when you bounce of the side of one and tumble to your spikey demise.
The big problem with Shape Escape is its difficulty. Things will be going great for you for a couple of levels, then bam! Out of nowhere comes a stage that appears nigh on impossible, for a whole host of reasons. I would frequently be spawn killed, my tiny orb landing on a spike before I even had time to move my finger. Other times, certain jumps seemed undoable, no matter when I tapped the screen.
What’s worse, these difficult levels would usually appear randomly after a string of much of easier ones, making it feel harder than it actually is. Shape Escape has an awful difficulty curve – if it even has one at all.
Graphics & Sound
Graphically, the game is just… fine. It won’t win any awards, but it won’t hurt your eyes either. The UI is very clean, something not uncommon of puzzle games, which need to promote simplicity in all areas. The layout of each level is clear and easy to make out, thanks to the contrast of black shapes on a bright, colorful background.
As for the sound… I can only describe it with one word – grating. The repetitive music that plays over every single level is fine for the first few minutes, but every time you die – which will be a lot – the track will restart, meaning you’ll be listening to the same section of it over. And over. And over.
The ‘death’ sound effect is also an annoyance, sounding like a fuzzily recorded retro sound bite playing through a walkie-talkie. It’s not good, and I would often find myself playing with the sound turned off.
Shape Escape had potential. Its concept is relatively unique and visually, it’s quite impressive. But in the end, poor sound design and an abysmal difficulty scale put the final two nails in this puzzlers coffin.
Reviewed on iPhone 6S. Shape Escape on iOS requires iOS 6.0 or later and is available on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.[appbox appstore https://itunes.apple.com/kg/app/shape-escape/id1055823987?mt=8]