Shapez 2 is a unique, quirky puzzle game | Hands-on preview

by on January 25, 2024

There’s definitely someone out there to whom Shapez 2 will massively appeal. It’s a hug graphical step up from the first one; it’s bright, colourful, taxing, and I’m sure there’s a way to play it that makes it oddly soothing. It’s a lovely looking game and while I feel like it may not be entirely for me, per say, it’s incredibly unique and is going to be right up the street of people who love titles like Satisfactory.

I’ve spent the last few hours with the Steam demo, and I’ve come away with severely mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s certainly pretty, and as I said, there’s a definite sense that it’s doing what it does very well. It’s certainly for someone. But I’m still a little confused as to what I’ve been achieving, if anything, for the whole time.

Shapez 2

Because Shapez 2’s demo gives you no real context for what you’re doing. It’s some kind of orbital platform in space, based on the background art, and you’re delivering specific shapes into a vortex. At first all the shapes are just quartered squares or triangles, and you lay conveyor belts from a spawn point to the vortex. But soon you’ll be required to provide different shapes, such as just one quarter of a square, or multiple shapes stacked on one another.

This necessitates building Stackers, Rotators, cutting lasers, and second floor conveyors. You need to have a full grasp on which conveyor is leading where, so you don’t deliver the wrong shapes. There’s no consequence besides you feeling stupid and your goal taking longer, but the reward for completing any task is more tasks, overcoming complexity is rewarded with more complexity. Later there are different coloured shapes, and more intricate devices to cut them and stack them. You’re required early on to cut one of each shape and combine them, which took me longer than I care to admit.

Shapez 2

And I get that this is the intended experience, but I struggled to have any real fun. This is a game designed for people who organise their sock draw by colour, or alphabetise the contents of their fridge. And I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with either of those things, I should add. But if I can leave the house with my laces done up and matching shoes I’m winning, and for me a game like Shapez 2 feels like busy work.

It is very pretty, though, in a weirdly industrial way. And if you can get a specific sequence of conveyors running right and sit back for a few minutes to watch it all flow, there is a strong sense of accomplishment. Until you try to make it more efficient and balls it up. That said, the controls are simple and intuitive, and it couldn’t be easier to place items, remove them, rotate them or alter them if necessary.

Shapez 2

What it needs is some jaunty music playing over the background, or you’ll likely do what I did and play it with a podcast in your ear – which is not always conducive to concentration. It can be hard to fix a cock-up if you go too deep with it. It’s better to experiment with a conveyor that’s going nowhere before you start building for realsies.

If you’re looking for a puzzler with a difference that’ll tax some different mental muscles, it’s worth adding Shapez 2 to your Wishlist – or at least giving the demo a go. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but you’ll know if it’s for you pretty early on. What Shapez 2 does is unique, which can sometimes be a double-edged sword, but it’s also likeable with it, and that goes a long way.