Get into the groove
A great writer once said that perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there's nothing more to take away. It's a principle the developers of Sound Shapes must have had in mind when creating the game, because it impresses from the outset with its streamlined, minimalist approach.
In place of multiple menu screens and options, you get instant action in brilliantly designed worlds (or albums) that feature cute, colourful and beautifully animated visuals by some of the world's most forward-thinking artists – not to mention soundtracks from some of the planet's greatest musicians.
These are no ordinary soundtracks, however: they're bleeping, twinkling, organic creations that you help put together as you play – a unique and ever-evolving collaboration between you and musicians including Beck, deadmau5 and I Am Robot. Musical notes are strewn throughout each stage and the pace and route of your progress will influence the music you make. It's a superb and imaginative way to add depth and complexity to the game, and the result is a lush, compelling and super cool sensory experience that grabs hold of you and won't let go.
The aim of Sound Shapes is deceptively simple: progress through each stage avoiding hazards and collecting stuff. From the very start, however, you'll be aware that there is much, much more to the experience than meets the eye.
Move through the abstract game worlds encountering obstacles of all kinds and glowing musical notes dotted about the scenery. All around you, ambient melodies and rhythms bleep and pulse – and every note you collect will strengthen the song. Keep your little shape safe and collect all the notes and you'll finish the stage amid a gorgeous electronic symphony. Plunge headlong into danger and frazzle to a crisp and you'll have to return to the last checkpoint, losing some of the beats and tones so important to your evolving musical masterpiece.
The cross-platform features of Sound Shapes means you can download it, save it and generally lose yourself in the fun on both your PS Vita and PlayStation 3 systems without any extra outlay – so there's really no excuse not to get creative whether at home or on the move. There's a huge amount of replay value, too – not least because beating the game in its regular guise gives you access to the brilliant Beat School (where you use touchscreen controls in the PS Vita version and the game's audio toolkit to make your own crazy stages and tunes) and Death Mode (where you face a series of tricky, time-sensitive challenges).
Both the extra modes are packed with trophies to earn, and you can share your high scores and best beats with other players via PlayStation Network. Time to make sweet, sweet music!