Mr. Shifty is a top-down brawler from Team Shifty, a new development studio out of Brisbane, Australia. As Mr. Shifty, you are able to shift/teleport your way through walls and bullets, taking down your enemies at lightning speed while trying to break into the world’s most secure facility. There are 18 levels to shift your way across, all with varying difficulty. New enemies help keep the gameplay fresh and exciting, but the replayability of the title is lacking a bit.
So, you’re a teleporting thief who has embarked on his biggest heist yet. What could possibly go wrong? Well, if you are Mr. Shifty, the answer to that is everything.
Platforms: PC (Version Played), Nintendo Switch
Developer: Team Shifty
Genre: Overhead Tele-Puncher
Release Date: April 13, 2017
When the gameplay clicks, and you are weaving your way through walls and enemies, it’s almost as if you are playing inside a comic book in full motion. The art design gives the action a comic-book vibe with its bright colors, and the fluid motion helps players feel like a superhero, zigzagging your way through walls and around enemies.
Ultimately, Mr. Shifty’s top-down perspective and level design will draw comparison to the much-loved Hotline Miami. It’s a fair comparison, but Mr. Shifty takes what we learned in Hotline Miami, polishes up the style, and goes for a simpler, more streamlined setting. While not as difficult as Hotline, Mr. Shifty does present a modest challenge that will see most players digging in deep to perfect their skills from level to level. The level design is pretty dull in regards to the rest of the game, unfortunately, and gets a bit repetitive towards the later levels.
Mr. Shifty plays better for me with a controller as opposed to the keyboard on the PC, which is how I play most top-down games these days. The control scheme works well with the fluidity of movement offered in the game, and the tight controls are one of the shining aspects of Mr. Shifty. You are limited to the amount of times you can shift in succession, which is indicated on the bottom of the screen by blue bars that automatically refill after a few seconds of not shifting. This makes it so you cannot keep shifting forever through a level, forcing you to be a little more conservative when encountering large groups of enemies and more strategic in how you approach certain rooms.
Your main source of damage output comes from your fists, so you have to get up close and personal to every enemy. There are items scattered in each level that you can pick up and use as weapons. The majority are meant for melee attacks but they can also be used as single-use thrown weapon. While most enemies use guns, Mr. Shifty only relies on brute force.
While the game was a fun experience, I would have liked more replayability. Once you complete a level, all you see is your time of completion. I feel the game would have benefited a lot more and gotten players to come back to each level if they implemented a ranking system on level completion. The only thing to do after you beat the game is to go back and beat the game faster, which doesn’t feel very satisfying.
Also, on top of the limited replayability, I found myself running into a litany of insane framerate drops. After some digging, I found out this effected a lot of others as well. It seems that every time I would have the game open for more than a half hour, my frames would suddenly drop to half of what I was getting to begin with, and I would have to restart the game. This is totally unacceptable for a game of this caliber to have, but the good thing is the developers have communicated that they are working on a patch to address the bug.
Overall, Mr. Shifty is a decent brawler with great art and sound direction marred only by some small level design flaws and bugs, and a lack of replayability. If Team Shifty were to clean up the bugs and add in some downloadable content that expands on level design and adds in some new elements, I think I would get more enjoyment out of the game.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Mr. Shifty was provided by TinyBuild for the purposes of this review.