Developer Team Shifty has teamed up with publisher tinyBuildGAMES to bring us a new action title called Mr. Shifty
. The titular hero is a mysterious figure in a baseball cap and trench coat whose one ability is that he can teleport short distances. It doesn't seem like a very impressive talent for a hero, but it makes Shifty a very dangerous man indeed.
As the game begins, you're sent to infiltrate a building reputed to be "impenetrable," a virtual fortress crawling with toughs just waiting to put the beat down on anyone dumb enough to try to get in. They're guarding a piece of mega plutonium that their boss plans to weaponize, and this would be a disaster, so it's up to you, aka Mr. Shifty, to steal the mega plutonium and take down the man who owns it.
The game's graphics are very much like a comic book, especially during cut scenes, but the vibe is maintained during normal gameplay, as well, which features a top-down view as you bash your way through each floor of the building. With no weapon of his own (except perhaps the guiding voice of his partner Nyx), Mr. Shifty breaks everything in his path and picks up sticks, statue pieces, and whatever else comes to hand as his weapons. This game is all about melee combat, and putting the hurt on your foes with just your fists and whatever you scrounge up is immensely satisfying somehow. Comic fans will enjoy the occasional nod to heroes such as Aquaman and Captain America when they find effective tridents and shields along the way.
The developers have done a great job of making the game easy to pick up and play. The controls are very simple and you receive tidbits on how to play as you begin. The first area isn't a tutorial per se, but it works as one as you learn to take enemies out by hitting them with doors, as you become familiar with shifting through walls, lasers, furniture — whatever stands in your way. The teleport mechanic is the core of gameplay, and it's both wonderfully flexible and beautifully easy. You can flash through a wall then wait for your enemy to follow you only to flash out again and kill him from behind. You can teleport through a network of lasers then set them moving to turn the guards behind you into mincemeat. Besides being so easy to pick up, it's also remarkably fun.
Takin' out the bad guys
It isn't just the gameplay that's simple, everything about Mr. Shifty
is simple. You won't find any power-ups or bonuses. You're one guy with one life, and when you get hit, you die. It's almost precisely that simple. The only layer on top of that design is slo-mo. As you progress, the slo-mo bar fills. Once full, slo-mo will trigger as soon as a bullet heads your direction, putting you automatically into slow motion, giving you more control of your surroundings. While it's a nice concept, this approach can be frustrating. Slow motion would be much more helpful if it could be triggered by the player when needed rather than activating automatically. It also doesn't really last long enough to be much help, which makes it more of a letdown than anything else.
While the simplicity is one of the joys of the game, it can also be a hindrance at times because with no level-ups or extras, you can easily find yourself being killed again and again by the same enemies. Shotgunners in particular can be very difficult because they can blast you through a wall. Dying isn't really an issue by itself since you re-spawn in the same room in which you died, but with two achievements tied to never dying, that's a problem.
Another thing that bears mentioning is the price. The main game can be finished in about five hours. Considering how much fun the game is, this won't be an issue for many, but for the more economically-minded, waiting for a sale might be in order.
Many of the game's achievements will be picked up naturally along the way, such as killing a certain number of enemies, punching a thousand times, finishing acts. I even picked up the speedrun achievement just finishing the game normally. Others can be had with just a little planning, such as knocking someone out a window or impaling five guys with the same trident. The one achievement that will rely on skill (and perhaps some luck) is the one that requires the game be finished with no deaths whatsoever. Since it only takes one hit to finish the character, this one will require some excellent skills.
is a comic book-style adventure that uses the simple mechanic of teleporting in short bursts to great effect. Fast-paced and fun, the game is amazingly easy to pick up and play but will require a lot of skill to complete. The game's core simplicity is its greatest strength but can also be a hindrance at times given the few number of ways to advance through the game. The one layer to the simple design, slo-mo, which should aid in those truly dangerous moments, doesn't work well enough to be much help. All in all, however, Mr. Shifty
is a real blast to play, and anyone who enjoys arcade action should consider giving it a try.
- Easy to play
- Teleport mechanic is very flexible
- Humorous dialogue
- Slo-mo is a letdown
- Some frustrating level design
The reviewer spent almost 6 hours shifting through walls and killing bad guys, completing the game once and earning 11 of the game's 14 achievements. A copy of the game was provided by the ID@Xbox program for the purpose of this review.