Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Review No. 145 Mr Shifty - PC (12+)

Strong Points:
Great art style
Tongue-in-cheek humour without resorting to vulgarity
Teleport (Shifting) technique
One hit deaths add suspense...
Can pull off great moves
A large array of items at your disposal
Shift Meter adds risk and reward
A short, easily digestible game...
Satisfying combat

Weak Points:
...But can also lead to frustration
A few oddly placed checkpoints
Removing the ability to teleport to make the game artificially harder
...Which still suffers pacing problems
A tower block doesn't make for the most interesting environments

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: April 13th, 2017

Can configure in game

Mr Shifty is a top-down beat-em-up, in a similar vein to Hotline Miami. And by that, I mean, it's hard and it's crazy. Enemies fill the screen, projectiles appear from everywhere and the one-hit deaths sometimes cause more frustration than they're worth. However, when this game works, it's really quite fun.

The main USP of Mr Shifty is the appropriately named Shift mechanic. Basically teleportation, you can press the RMB (or whatever you have configured) to zip around the room, through or around walls and enemies and dodge projectiles. As long as you have some Shift Meter the enemies are at your mercy. There's even a nice risk and reward system whereby if you use all your Shift Meter then it takes a while to recharge leaving you exposed.

If you have a nice risk and reward system already in place, then why tamper with it? Or even worse, remove it completely? But that's exactly what Mr Shifty does, when, about halfway through the game, your powers are blocked by machines. You suddenly become the hunted and have to take each level slowly, hurting the pace of the game. While it's nice to slow down once in a while, it doesn't particularly make sense when the game is all about fast-paced action/

Combat in this game is kinetic, fluid and any other adjective you'd like to use to describe great punching and throwing. Moves connect to enemies and you feel every hit as enemies and projectiles alike are thrown across the room. One of my favourite hobbies in the game is sending enemies careening through the glass surrounding some of the floors - it's just instant feedback that you're doing well. It's a shame then, that some areas later in the game slow down the flow by making themselves difficult to destroy while you are also preoccupied with whatever else is in the room. Guerrilla tactics suddenly don't work as well, and it becomes slightly less in the moment and slightly more tedious.

The enemies are nothing special but have enough variety to keep things interesting. Ranging from rifleman to teleporting ninjas and everything in between, the different enemies means you will constantly be changing your fighting style and target, as leaving some types of enemies unchecked for long will spell your doom. I'd recommend becoming acquainted with the various weapons in the game as these can drastically turn a battle in your favour, as long as you hit the correct people.

The story of Mr Shifty is basically a collection of tropes which are then yelled at you. Silent protagonist? Check. All powerful radio woman? Check. Boss of an evil corporation threatening to blow everything up with a nuclear bomb and who also happens to be extremely strong? Double check. Personally, I liked that the game didn't take itself too seriously and instead just had fun with the storyline and how many puns they could come up with. We don't need morality questions in every game I guess.

Finally, a quick mention of the art style and general visual flair. A cross between cel-shaded and neon, Mr Shifty's graphics are pleasing to look at and the environments are detailed enough to keep some of the repetitiveness of the missions out. By constricting to just a tower block they did limit the variety of design available to the levels but by the time you've shifted around, defeating enemies and throwing projectiles, you tend not to care too much about it being another office room.

Conclusion: overall, I enjoyed my time with Mr Shifty. For nearly every time you slam the keyboard down in frustration after dying to the last enemy in a 4-wave room, there's another moment which makes you feel amazing - timing the Shift just right, using Zeus's Lightning Bolt to send an enemy careening over the edge etc. If more of the game was like the latter, we'd have a real winner on our hands.

Rating: 78%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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