Mr. Shifty – Review
Platform – PC, Nintendo Switch
Developer – Team Shifty
Publisher – tinyBuild Games
MSRP – $14.99
(Editor’s Note: This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with the review copy being provided by the publisher tinyBuild Games.)
Mr. Shifty is a game that follows in the footsteps of Hotline Miami with top down action and quick gameplay. This game revolves around the player using a teleportation power known as “Shift” to defeat multitudes of enemies. Mr. Shifty is fun and addicting with challenging enemies, environmental hazards, and quick respawns. Fun dialogue and clever writing keeps the story light while also not taking itself too seriously. Framerate problems, lack of game modes, and l, unfortunately, tely keeps Mr. Shifty from reaching its full potential.
Mr. Shifty has to break into a heavily secured facility, Olympus Tower, in order to steal the Mega Plutonium. Nyx is your Intel operative that will assign mission objectives and hilarious commentary about everything happening to Mr. Shifty. The Mega Plutonium is guarded by several heavily armed enemies who work for Chairman Stone. Mr. Shifty has clever writing and pokes fun at many action movie tropes. The hero doesn’t need dialogue because of his great supporting cast made of Nyx and Chairman Stone. Nyx and Stone are the true stars of this story, since both characters represent their positions well in a fun and funny matter. Nyx will tell you funny jokes about Mr. Shifty’s current situation, similar to one liners from 80s action movies. Chairman Stone will comment on your inability to stop him and how his henchmen are completely useless. Stone makes a great villain because he will constantly try to avoid the protagonist while taunting him with new henchmen and environmental hazards. He becomes more evil and delirious as Mr. Shifty keeps mowing down his staff. Great writing and lite story plot points keeps the action going while also adding some fun.
Gameplay & Performance
Mr. Shifty has great combat action and enemy variety that is not served well because of framerate drops. Mr. Shifty’s controls are simple to learn but hard to master. This game requires skill and tactful positioning to defeat enemies that can one-shot the player. X is used to punch in a three-hit combo, B is used for your Shift ability, and A is to pick up melee weapons scattered across the game. Mr. Shifty has a white dot in front of him at all times which displays how far he can teleport. Using the white dot is necessary to traverse stage obstacles like laser beams or Shifting behind walls. A maximum of 5 charges are available to use Mr. Shifty’s teleportation, if all 5 charges are used immediately then it will take precious seconds to fill back up again. He has a Slow-Mo meter that fills up when attacking enemies and chaining those attacks together. Once that meter is full, Mr. Shifty can go into slow motion when fatally shot by an enemy and gain infinite Shifts for a small duration of time. He can pick up melee weapons like brooms, metal pipes, coffee mugs, and wooden sticks that offer one hit kills on enemies. Wide melee weapons like the broom or metal pipe can hit multiple enemies in one swing, while the coffee mug and other small items can be thrown for a one shot kill also! All weapons will break after a couple of uses but are essential to completing latter stages. Mr. Shifty can defeat a big group of enemies by using a mix of three hit combos, well placed Shifts, and melee weapons. This gameplay loop is fast and highly satisfying as the game relies on player skill and quick reflexes.
Enemy variety is introduced at a solid pace with each level you beat. Enemy guns have a red laser sight that shows the trajectory of their bullets. Blue henchmen are equipped with a single pistol each and will fire two shots. Purple henchmen are equipped with shotguns that spray a cone of bullets between each shot. Yellow henchmen have assault riffles with three shot bursts. Pink henchmen are brutes and attack at melee range with a one punch kill. Enemies will come after the player if they are alerted by sound or sight. They can also see through glass walls or windows and will attack the player. Henchmen will try to explore the area and enter rooms in search of the player if they hear combat. Mr. Shifty can create opportunities to flank enemies by Shifting behind walls and funneling them into a doorway. Chairman Stone has an entire army of henchmen at his disposal, some with cool abilities of their own. Enemies become clever and are numerous in latter levels of the game, requiring quick thinking and everything at your disposal. Henchmen can kill in one shot but the fast respawn allows the player to try again immediately. There are also environmental puzzles and other obstacles that require a bit of ingenuity to get through. There are hallways filled with laser beams that seem impossible to cross even with teleportation. This requires the player to look for other alternative routes or solve the problem with well placed teleports.
Mr. Shifty’s combat is great with the right amount of challenge, but there are glaring issues that need to be addressed. As you pass Stage 10 and more enemies types or hazards get introduced, the game’s framerate starts to slow down significantly. Its problematic enough to ruin the experience and get frustrated over cheap deaths caused by the slow down. These framerate drops seem to happen because of several actions being performed off screen like explosions or enemies. Mr. Shifty doesn’t look like a graphically intensive game and this kind of problem really hurts the enjoyment of the latter half. The JoyCons’ HD Rumble became highly distracting in this game; requiring to turn off the feature. Once you beat the game, 18 Stages in total, there is no time attack mode, no survival mode, no other modes other than stage selection and new game. I clocked in around 3 hours to beat the game, making this a short game with no other replayability. Asking for $14.99 for a game that can be beaten this quickly is a bit steep without knowing if it will get future content support.
Art & Sound
The artwork and style of this game is awesome and really fits the aesthetic. Mr. Shifty looks like a cool super hero who borrows Nightcrawler’s powers and color scheme. The game is beautifully with lots of attention to enemy color variety, cool designs, and the backgrounds. Character models are cell shaded and the levels are varied enough that the layout doesn’t get tiresome. The lower levels have this neat metallic and futuristic look to them while the higher levels are lush with rugs, artwork, and fine wood. Almost anything that can hurt you is colored red like explosive barrels and proximity mines. This helps avoid them when action on the screen get chaotic. Weapons that can be used and picked up have a white outline in order to stand out from the background. Mr. Shifty’s teleport has a beautiful animation and works quickly. This game has a unique look that is not comparable to Hotline Miami; which has a pixelated art design. Mr. Shifty’s background music is stellar and matches the action-packed gameplay. Elevators have calm “waiting” music that is funny considering the carnage and mayhem of the game. Destructible items sound great and enemy attacks are distinct. Many sounds like punching, shotguns, and explosions have the right amount of urgency and weight. Mr. Shifty is a beautiful looking game with great color variations and art style. I would love to see other character designs for future releases and new environments.
Mr. Shifty is a fun game but technical flaws really stand out and can ruin the experience. The first half of the game was smooth, quick, and action packed. The combat is great because of your skill and challenging enemy variety. Mr. Shifty’s art design and music blends well with the gameplay. This is an extremely short game that can be beaten in one solid play-through with no additional game modes. Framerate drops can lead to cheap deaths and HD Rumble on The Nintendo Switch can be distracting. Mr. Shifty’s gameplay is the star of the game which is supported by clever writing and level designs.