At some point in your life, you will certainly have played some sort of shape-sorting puzzle. From infant amusements all the way up to Tangrams, geometry-based challenges have a long and illustrious history in wood and plastic.
But this is the digital age, and Shapist brings the genre not just bang up to date, but slightly into the future.Star
It's the presentation that makes it feel dangerously post-modern. There's no tutorial, and very little sound. You're just thrown right into the first of 50 challenges in the form of jumbled, angular shapes floating in the bottomless blackness of space. An austere temple to the iron laws of geometry.
There's no cutting edge technology on display here - just coloured blocks. But it's hard to convey just how aesthetically pleasing the whole package is - it excites the senses like a modern, minimalist interior or a piece of abstract art.
While the bare interface is initially disorientating, the gameplay is so familiar that it takes nothing more than a little experimentation to work it out. You need to slide blocks around one another on a limited field to clear a central space in the middle, which you then touch to advance to the next level.Pentacle
What's really impressive about Shapist is the way is takes this incredibly simple premise and uses the versatility of the digital platform to make an entire game out of it. The initial puzzles are fairly straightforward, but you're soon thrown curveballs like narrow gaps in the play field to deal with.
Then the game starts in with the really weird stuff. Magnets that stick together or repel, limiting the ways in which you can slide your pieces around. Springs that unfold at awkward moments during rearrangement. Pivots that can tilt and rotate rather than just slide around.
It's stunningly creative and often very challenging. While most puzzles can be solved by experimentation eventually, some of the tougher ones can be completed faster and in a more satisfying way with a little planning and forethought.Square
Although developer Qixen-P has gone to great lengths to ensure that Shapist blossoms from its basic roots into something much more rich and varied, it's important to note that this remains a puzzle in the traditional sense. There's no randomness, no clues, no hand-holding at all. Either you solve a level, or you're stuck forever.
That's going to make it divisive. And I have to admit that I find its cold, hard-edged severity a bit difficult to swallow.
But assessed from a distance, it's hard not to be impressed. All the stops have been pulled out to ensure that Shapist is the most innovative, futuristic puzzler on the App Store. It's an admirable achievement, but not one that everyone will be able to appreciate.