Shapes of Gray is an old school retro arcade style challenge game. It is designed for short play sessions. You will play the game, get into it and complete some challenges, and exit the game having been rewarded for your playtime as you gradually improve each time you play. Therefore do not expect longer, more than an hour, sessions to be as rewarding.
Where Trent Steen, the one man rock band of Secret Tunnel Entertainment succeeds the most is in the tight controls. The gameplay mechanics are fantastic. The game is challenging and if you’re not careful you can easily lose your three lives. However, the game never feels as though it is cheating you of those lives. You’ll quickly know the why and the how of how you died and with a little practice come to comfortably beat the levels that you found yourself losing to. You are a little blob and your objective is to destroy the enemies in the tower. Each enemy does different things and most levels have multiple different enemies that you need to clear in order to progress. One of the tricks to eliminate enemies is to use their power against one another, for example if one collides into another they both may be eliminated. This is my favorite aspect of the game because it feels as though you’ve outwitted the clever AI. The game requires a twin stick controller to work most effectively (note: I have not tried playing with anything other than my trusty Xbox One controller) as you use the left stick to move, the right stick to aim and the trigger to use your weapon.
The game features three boss levels – 35, 20 and 1 (you start from the highest level moving down though the game does get harder as normal) – and each acts as a checkpoint. They all feel like traditional end level bosses as each is more uniquely powerful than anything preceding it. Game over status comes after you’ve been hit three times – you have three hearts – or if you run out of time on an individual level. Completing the first 50 levels opens up the rest of the game but that requires a lot of challenge. Admittedly, I left my play session for the time being having beaten the first fifty levels. I look forward to playing more of it in time.
Shapes of Gray is a cool game that deserves greater attention than what it has currently received. It’s better on Steam than it was on he Wii U. I feel that it is more natural as a PC game than on the console. It’s one of those quick play titles that will remain in your memory banks in a similar way to Super Hexagon and others of its ilk. At $7 at full price and $3.49 for the remainder of the Steam sale it is very much worth picking up.