Shapes of Gray review: Simplicity is the key

Shapes of Gray, by Secret Tunnel Entertainment, is an eShop title that is…well, just that: full of various shapes of different hues of gray. The game doesn’t go for flashy effects, but rather, solid gameplay in the hope of capturing the attention of the player. Does Shapes of Gray manage to do this?

The visuals in Shapes of Gray are simple, and they work.
The visuals in Shapes of Gray are simple, and they work.

Visuals – 6.75/10
Firstly, Shapes of Gray is not about elaborate usage of color, obviously – it’s all about simplicity. Simplicity in gameplay. Simplicity in audio. Simplicity in visuals. And you know what? I enjoy the art style in the game.

There is a circle in the middle of the screen, outlined in black, with three hearts at the top right and a timer running along the left side of the screen. All of these are, of course, colored with different shades of gray. Your character, a little diamond-like shape of a particular gray, can be moved around the circular map, avoiding enemy shapes and taking them out with it’s trusty sword.

The game runs rather smoothly, except for a couple specific levels that have a large number of bigger enemies (ones that dart at the player); these few instances, the frame rate dropped dramatically. This caused a rough patch with the actual gameplay, but aside from these few hiccups, Shapes of Gray ran well.

Simple look, simple colors, and simple designs are the theme in Shapes of Gray, and I think it works just fine.

Uh oh...
Uh oh…

Audio – 5/10
There isn’t much in the way of audio in Shapes of Gray. Where this simplicity worked well with the visuals, the audio comes up a little lacking. There aren’t many compositions to help combat aural fatigue, and the audio cues are done well enough – there just aren’t enough of them.

What is there is nicely done, with the audio cues resembling sounds you might find in an old Game Boy title (perhaps The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening?). And the audio does help to give the sword some heft when connecting with enemies. Overall, Shapes of Gray has solid audio; it just doesn’t have enough diversity.

Gameplay – 7.5/10
Again, simplicity is the focus, and this is where Shapes of Gray shines the most. The player must finish 49 levels (because 50 Shapes of Gray is a little too risque), completing the first mode. Each level holds greater challenges, whether it be new and smarter enemies, or simply more enemies. The player navigates their little shape around the circular battlefield, and must slay all enemies with a sword before the timer runs out. The left stick is used to navigate the level, while the right stick is used to aim your protagonist in a specific direction. Pressing the right trigger button causes your character to swing a sword; but you better time it right! There is a little delay on the swing, so be careful not to get too close to an enemy or you might lose a heart rather quickly.

There are checkpoints along the way (not save points, mind you) while making it through to the final boss (Level 1). This adds difficulty to the gameplay, since the player only has three hearts per checkpoint. Once the first mode of play is passed, it opens up another mode for the player to attempt. What I found to be lacking, though, was any type of leaderboards, whether local or online. A game like this would’ve benefited from an online leaderboard to compete against friends, since Shapes of Gray isn’t a game that is to “be completed,” but rather, to be constantly competing in.

The controls are solid, work well enough, and the gameplay is difficult: Shapes of Gray plays nicely.

The gameplay is simple as well, and it can become addicting. If only there were online leaderboards!
The gameplay is simple as well, and it can become addicting. If only there were online leaderboards!

Entertainment Factor – 7.5/10
I had fun with Shapes of Gray. Though online leaderboards would’ve enticed me to play even more, I still found the simplistic gameplay and visuals rather addicting. Though it was a little frustrating playing the same segments of levels repeatedly, I found enjoyment in the limited checkpoints, since they added a nice level of difficulty. Combine that with the timer for each level, and the very limited amount of hearts (life points), and Shapes of Gray becomes a fun little title that can easily become addicting. There is no story here, nor elaborate puzzles, but simple and addictive gameplay.


Shapes of Gray isn’t a large indie title to sink hours of gameplay time into a story or campaign mode; it’s a fun pick-up-and-play title that can become addicting. The lack of online leaderboards is a bit of a let-down, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game. If you’re into games that require simple skill, and can be played in short spurts, then Shapes of Gray is a nice title to grab.

Overall – 6.7/10

Shapes of Gray is available now for $6.99 on the Wii U eShop.

Secret Tunnel Entertainment provided a review copy for Shapes of Gray.


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