Title: Mr. Shifty
Version Tested: PC
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems
Developer: Team Shifty
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Official Site: Mr. Shifty
Release Date: 2017
Where To Buy: Steam, Xbox Live Marketplace, PSN Store, Local Retailer
I have never played Hotline Miami, nor do I generally tend to enjoy games that feature trial and error methods of learning or frequently dying. Mr. Shifty is the rare exception to this rule and it’s as a result of a combination of addictive gameplay and masterfully fluid level design.
Mr. Shifty doesn’t start with a boring tutorial level, though there are quick prompts and instructions, it just throws you right into it. Teleporting is simple to get used to once you realize that the direction Shifty will teleport is represented by a white dot and that he is limited to five teleports in a row, which regenerate pretty quickly. While the white dot is very helpful, it is considerable easy to lose track of in the heat of battle and resulted in multiple deaths due to a lack of knowing which direction I was facing, not entirely a huge issue.
The objective is as simple as teleport through walls and open spaces to punch goons, and don’t die doing so. Enemies in the game vary from the simple pistol wielders to stick wielding ninjas to big blokes with rocket launches. But each is just as dangerous as the last since every one of them was a one hit kill. Their ability to always know where you are was frustrating at first, but after a while, I began to enjoy the mechanic.It was easy to lure the guards into a room and take them out all at once or have them take each other out, even though it ramped as more enemies were added.
By halfway through the game, the additional enemies that would fill the rooms would result in some considerably chaotic scenes, but completing the levels like that certainly felt cathartic. Each new enemies introduction was also done rather well, facing off against them individually until they were added to the fray of goons, giving time plenty of time to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
But how exactly does Mr. Shifty combat all these heavily guarded goons aside from teleporting? The answer is that every weapon he wields is either melee or thrown, no guns. At first I questioned the choice to not allow Mr. Shifty to pick up the weapons that were dropped by the goons, but in the end, the brawler nature of the thief felt far more satisfying, and fit his character. Instead, the weapons that were available outside of his fits were fun as hell to use. Skewing multiple people on a trident, knocking guys out with vases and my personal favorite sticking a mine to a poor sap and hoping to catch others in the radius are just a few examples of the weapons available in each level.
While it did take multiple times to master every level, they were all designed rather brilliantly, with each area feeling like it was meticulously designed a specific way on purpose, all revolving around the combat. Whether the level revolved around killing all the guards, avoiding traps or just outrunning explosions, there seemed to be a purpose to each room added, each barrel placed and the specific amount of enemies (and types) located in the area.
To accompany the perfect level designs, Mr. Shifty’s music was just the right style for the silent badass thief, really adding to the game’s ambiance.The fast beats per minute of the soundtrack sync up with Shifty’s teleporting and guard beating awesomely. But then again I’ve always been a fan of fast BPM genres like techno. The sound cues tied to each enemy is a vital aspect to mastering the game and timing as well, as it’s important to know when to shift when you hear a rockerter about to fire or a mine about to detonate.
Though the story may be simple, infiltrate the evil corporation and stop the bad, it has plenty of funny dialogue and surprising twists. What I thought to be a simple 5 hr game eventually turned out to be a perfectly sized 9 hr playthrough.
Despite many deaths and some confusing obstacles, I rarely ever felt frustrated, just happy to have another chance to do something really cool in the game. Even though the final mission did take me well over an hour and felt like it was almost impossible to beat.
While I know they aren’t necessarily the same thing, Mr. Shifty has prompted me to download Hotline Miami to give it a go. Even if you’ve never played Hotline Miami or any games like it, I’d highly recommend Mr. Shifty for it’s fast paced action and fantastic game design.
- Gameplay: Addicting, fluid, and fun regardless of dying a lot
- Graphics: Simple yet contained an enjoyable mix of color, with an interesting top-down perspective
- Sound: Great for aesthetic but also vital to the gameplay in regards to sound effect cues
- Presentation: A simple game on the surface that when added up equals a brilliantly complex piece of game design that is still fun to play
- Brilliant Level and Game Design
- Vital sound cues
- Satisfying action and gameplay
- Reticle takes getting used to