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Review: Shapez

Review: Shapez

Which way should I rotate them?!

I’ve been playing Shapez, a factory game where your raw resources are colors and shapes. There are three primary colors (red, green, and blue), and there are four shape-pieces (circle, square, star, and windmill). Colors are always pure, while some of the sources of shapes are a mixture of two or more quarters of different types (but always a four-quarter shape).

You start with minimal tools, and you unlock additional tools as you complete levels. You also get upgraded versions of tools by meeting delivery quotas for different shapes. But the goal of the game is to make shapes, paint them, and deliver them, all with conveyor belts and the machines you have and make.

As the game plays on, you get more ability and faster tools, but the complexity of the shapes grows with that, until a couple are downright puzzles to figure out how to build.

And after level 26, the shapes asked of you are random, requiring you to build an everything machine to build the shape without rebuilding your whole factory every time. While in the early levels you don’t need to do much wiring, building an everything machine requires a lot of wiring (signals and filters and booleans and inspectors to figure out which pieces are needed by the machine to make the layers and shapes).

As far as achievements go, most are simple enough and obtained through normal play. The hardest is likely to speedrun to level 12, which is a whole other (but probably equal) challenge to the everything machine. The everything machine requires a ton of building and wiring and checking and testing. The speedrun puts you back at the start of the game, and you have to figure out how to do things fast. Everything machines are zen gardening, speedrunning is a hotdog-eating contest.


My own modest tips for the everything machine (assuming the reader has looked into the task already):

  1. Four-color painters with four lanes of every possible color feeding it. You can run those lanes from afar, so that the rest of the factory can be closer to the goal.
  2. Trash filters before and after each step so you can clean up when the requested shape changes.
  3. You can find shape resources that contain all four parts. I used two different ones, but the maps vary. Throw them into four-way cutters and you have the raw materials. One full belt output will require 16 lanes of shape pieces (one per quarter makes four per layer, times four layers maximum).
  4. So you need seven colors times four quarters (28) times four layers: 112 color lanes total.

But it’s mostly a lot of wiring and shame that you didn’t build everything perfect the first time, reworking, figuring out you forgot to add that belt, and so on.


As for the speedrun, it’s tough. A lot of the trouble here is realizing you have to unlearn all those nice tools and upgrades you earned in the main game, because you only get some of them back as you progress through the run.

You need to get upgrades fast as you can, but you’re limited on how far you’ll get in the 30 minutes for the gold medal. You have to balance the immediate level goals with the amount of time they’ll take to complete.

My first attempt was just over an hour (so I only got bronze), but it took practice to keep my wits about me in the early game, staring blankly as I couldn’t copy-paste, couldn’t build how I’m used to. It was a fun challenge.

After maybe ten attempts I got down to just over a half hour, and on my final run I was done building with five minutes to spare. Enough, I thought until I realized I’d forgotten to let enough purple circles through for the next belt upgrade (47 short!), so I frantically tried to beg-borrow-steal them to upgrade as time ticked away, but it didn’t matter. I got there in just under 30 minutes.

A lot of runs fall to small things. Forgetting to set up stars at the start, or forgetting to connect a few belts here or there. Getting tangled up in rotations. But with enough practice, your brain figures all that out, you see what you can reuse, and you can become rather speedy.


I’d heard of factory games, but hadn’t really played them before. I played Spacechem years ago, but it’s a bit different from modern factory games and is more puzzle-oriented.

I’ve enjoyed playing. It takes some learning, but the level progression is good at teaching you step-by-step, and outside of the speedrun (and maybe the everything machine) it’s not too hard to get the hang of.

On the whole it took me about 74 hours to finish the game (through level 101) and get all 45 achievements. I enjoyed my time playing, so if you want to try a factory game, give this one a look.


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