Review – Verne: The Shape of Fantasy

There’s no denying that Jules Verne was one of the greatest literary minds of all time. His fascination with science and optimistic outlook on life lead him to write some of the most famous and influential novels ever published. For many, he changed the way we think about the world, simply by celebrating exploration and discovery. His imagination knew no bounds, which is essentially the core theme behind Gametopia’s Verne: The Shape of Fantasy.

 Verne: The Shape of Fantasy Islands

Prepare to enter the mind of the legendary author, Jules Verne.

In Verne: The Shape of Fantasy, we follow the legendary Jules Verne through the world of Hemera, a world built from his own imagination. He voyages along with Captain Nemo aboard the Nautilus, as they evade the “Nation”, a fearsome group of tyrants who are relentless in their search for a legendary Atlantean artifact: the Flame of Hephaestus. The artifact is so powerful it brought about the both the rise and fall of Atlantis, and in the Nation’s hands, it could change the course of history. Will Verne and Nemo be able to find it before their enemy can claim it for their own?

 Verne: The Shape of Fantasy Raven and Nemo

Enjoy the many references to Verne’s most famous works.

The premise for Verne: The Shape of Fantasy is truly intriguing. However, the concept itself is far more interesting than what we actually get in the game. One the biggest issues I had with Verne: The Shape of Fantasy, was its pacing. The story is incredibly slow, with only a few underwhelming “twists” and revelations along the way. The ending was also quite predictable. While I appreciated the real-world history and biographical facts about Verne you can collect, they didn’t really add anything to the story itself. For a concept so intriguing, it’s a shame the overall narrative didn’t feel more dynamic.

The gameplay is where Verne: The Shape of Fantasy really suffers though. From the trailers it seemed like it was going to mainly be a puzzle game, with some time-bending elements to it. However, this isn’t the case. Verne: The Shape of Fantasy is mainly a point-and-click adventure, with some extremely simple puzzles thrown in on occasion. As far as the time-bending elements, this presents itself in the form of the Imag, an ancient Atlantean artifact with the power to re-write past events and alter Verne’s fate.

 Verne: The Shape of Fantasy Imag

So weird. It’s almost like the Imag is short for “imagination”…

Sounds amazing, right? Well, it really only gives you one or two options to choose from when altering the events of the past, which was disappointing. Even worse is that you only ever use the Imag a few times. For such a unique gameplay mechanic, it’s sad it’s so underutilized.

There are also some stealth sections, but these are laughably easy. Metal Gear this is not. That is… until they aren’t. At the very of the game there’s a long stealth section with a ludicrous difficulty spike. Once I figured out the timing, as well as what I needed to do to progress, the game changed up the timing of the guard’s patrols and made it impossible to get by. Thankfully, quitting and restarting my save fixed this issue, but between it already being difficult and then encountering this bug, the whole end of the game was extremely aggravating.


This late-game stealth section is an unexpected nightmare.

Where Verne: The Shape of Fantasy shines, though, is in its art design. It features a beautiful pixel art style, with lots of detail with its environments and character designs. Each area isn’t very large, but there are some truly striking cinematic moments when viewing the strange lands or within the Nautilus. The only thing detracting from the visuals are the numerous grammatical mistakes and typos found within the captions. Luckily, there’s an option to turn these off in the Settings menu, which I recommend if you don’t want to be distracted by them.

The sound design is pretty solid all throughout. Some of the voice acting is hit or miss, but most of it is fairly decent. The music is fair and serviceable, even if the soundtrack isn’t the most memorable. The ambient sounds, on the other hand, are what really sell the immersion. When exploring the islands, you’ll hear rustling leaves of trees, birds, chirps, waves crashing, and small animal scampering through the bushes. While on the Nautilus, you’ll hear steam from the engines, the metallic clangs of pipes, and even whale-like songs from giant sea creatures in the ocean around you. Hearing the sea life made me bummed that I wasn’t able to explore more of the mysteries of the ocean.

Verne: The Shape of Fantasy Leviathan

I really wish we could have seen more of the leviathans.

It pains me to say that I found Verne: The Shape of Fantasy to be a somewhat bland experience. This is especially disheartening because the premise was so creative. To me, it just didn’t live up to its potential. The story was too slow and predictable, and the gameplay was either too easy or too frustrating. To give credit where credit is due, it is a beautiful game, and I enjoyed learning more about Jules Verne, even if it didn’t necessarily add to the story. It’s a short experience, only taking about three to four hours to complete, so if you’re a diehard Jules Verne fan, then it might be worth your time. Just don’t expect Verne: The Shape of Fantasy to be overly imaginative.


Graphics: 8.5

Beautiful pixel art graphics, with lots of detail within its environments. There are some typos and grammatical mistakes in the captions, however.

Gameplay: 6.0

A point-and-click adventure with some simple puzzles. There are also some laughably easy stealth sections, at least up until the very end when it gets an insane difficulty spike. The reality re-writing mechanic is disappointingly underutilized.

Sound: 7.0

The music is decent and serviceable, but the ambient sounds are what sell the environments. Some of the voice acting is hit or miss.

Fun Factor: 5.0

An interesting premise that doesn’t take things quite far enough. It moves very slowly and has a predictable ending. The one unique feature, the IMAG, is severely underused.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Verne: The Shape of Fantasy is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Verne: The Shape of Fantasy was provided by the publisher.