Mr. Shifty: Who needs doors?

  The elevator music quietly plays in the background as I prepare myself mentally for what is behind those mechanical doors once they open. ...

 The elevator music quietly plays in the background as I prepare myself mentally for what is behind those mechanical doors once they open. I wipe the sweat of my brow and adjust the grip on my controller and count down. Three…..Two….One… Go! , I press the button to move onto the floor and run in. Immediately 3 lasers are pointing at me and without hesitation I push the shift button two times quickly lining up behind one of the shooters down the corridor. A quick one-two punch and I set  my sights on his friends across the hall who are still locked in on me. Poof ..Poof… with a cloud of dark smoke I get near them and take them out in similar fashion. They never saw it coming. A door to the next room awaits, but who needs doors? I teleport through a wall and see a lot more mean looking characters at the ready to take me on. I quickly shift towards another position as the first shot is fired then another and another. I have one more before I need to recharge I quickly cross behind a wall and recharge ready to counter the attack. as I jump back into the fray I miss my timing and appear right into a salvo shot in my direction. Time slows to a crawl, lucky me slow-mo was fully charged and activated so I get a chance to redeem this mistake. I punch the button and try to shift away only to run into a rocket launcher.. Going to have to remember that guy.  The game resets instantly and I am ready for another run.
1h:06m:32s and 74 deaths later I make it through the level and step inside the next elevator and get ready to take on the next area.

What is it?

This is Mr.Shifty the new game published by TinyBuild and is the first title coming from Team Shift, a new indie games company based in Brisbane, Australia comprised of ex-Halfbrick developers. The game is presented as a  top down action game in style similar to games such as Miami Hotline. If you remember the nightcrawler scene of X-men 2 ,the game feel like a pumped up version of that moment. Just as in that movie you can teleport about two feet in front of you , through walls, bullets and people. Together with your fists and any melee weapons you can find along the way you are a force to be reckoned with. Speedy decisions are critical as one hit will take you out. It makes for a thrilling action game that will take lighting quick reflexes, brainpower, and a little luck to beat. 

It is you, me and this wall.

As Mr. Shifty you are on a heist to steal mega plutonium from the evil chairman stone and foil his evil villainy across the globe. Mr. shifty does not waste too much time with pleasantries, you start right off with the heist, guided on headset (presented by ons screen speech bubbles) by your guide Nyx , who will give you instructions throughout the game even though she is not always on point with her intel.  You can teleport (shift), attack, pickup objects and kick in doors. You will not use any guns but can use melee weapons you find along the way that have limited usage before they break. Your shifts are limited to five in rapid succession, each time you shift they recharge but if you run out of all five then it takes longer and you will be very vulnerable. It is an easy thing to  have happen to you  when things get really chaotic around you and you are not yet familiar with the terrain.
Be quick and decisive.

With the basic controls quickly explained the handholding pretty much stops there. All you have to know from this point is learned by discovery and trying new things if you are stuck. 
I do not want to do too much into what is possible as it too much fun to find out for yourself and not be spoiled by me. But let’s say that it is imperative to remember that you can use many things in the environment against your enemies to reach your goal.

Each level takes a different approach to navigate and clear If you die the area resets and you can try again within a blink of an eye and try another approach. This sounds easier said then done because you still need to execute properly once you made your decision. You will die a lot and therefore the instant restarts  a godsend. The way you approach your attack can change how things unfold compared to the last try because the enemy attack patterns change depending on factors such as who you take out first, did they hear or see you etc. Hiding usually is pretty futile as you are snuffed out pretty quickly so you will often be on the move while managing available shifts, enemies present and objective. Most of the time you will be required to complete clear an area from all it’s enemies and there are not enough blinks in a day to get past them at once, lucky for you it is possible to put them also in harms way by using the environment and other enemies gunshots to take them out. There is so much satisfaction in tricking two shotgunners in shooting each other in an overzealous attempt to take you down.
With a varied range of enemies combined with the layout and gadgets in the levels there is plenty of variation to go around as you make your way through the game. Just as I would feel like I had seen this before some new enemy would show or some new twist would be added, challenging me to change my approach. Let me take this opportunity to mention that I HATE lasers!! 
I really do hate lasers!..really really do!

Even though the game starts by telling you that the use of a controller is recommended I found that sometimes it would not feel precise enough to take on the bigger challenges properly. Setting up exact teleportations in between flame-throwers or navigating laser would often lead to an unwanted death due to lack of precision.I did notice that if you tap the d-pad instead of using the analog stick,  you can straighten or line up your cursor much easier which greatly helped when I was lining up some attacks. The challenges ramp up at a fairly fast pace and  eventually they can feel almost unfair, but with the use of new tactics and some persistence you can often make it through. What was frustrating for personally was that in the last few stages with multiple waves  of enemies there was a lack of save points made it that more frustration when having to start over again and again and worse when I had to stop for the night forcing me to start all the way over the next day. 
Here Slo-mo saved the day!

I also had  some issues with the  slow-mo ability. Since you have no control over this power it just activates as soon as a bullet is about to hit you,slowing time and over-saturating the entire scene. Now it is nice to be given a chance to stay alive, but I had regularly that it would throw my timing off  and cause me to die anyway in the heat of the moment. Still, in all fairness it also saved my hide more than once.

The game loads with a no frills easy to understand menu, There are no true cutscenes in the game as the story unfolds itself via communications bubbles on screen. Especially the banter from your arch nemesis that shows up as you keep moving forward is quite hilarious and almost made me wish it had some voice acting.So instead I did the voices as I read the text out loud.
The graphics are crips and clean and even though often simple representations in the game world they offer a lot of variation. As I mentioned before, the environment can be used in solving the area’s and as a result a lot of items are breakable making it fun to teleport into them or punch them to make them shatter, sometimes revealing usable items. The sound design is clear and focused helping to indicate what is going, weapons sound great, and small little additions such as screams when someone falls out of a window are a great addition. in the level and the soundtrack  of pumping retro-futuristic synth rock mashups sets the tone for the game.In between levels you get to chill out to some elevator muzak. Overall a simple presentation that is effective enough to get you started with the game. The game is not highly demanding, so if you get the steam version most modern laptops and pc’s should be able to play this without issue ( check the system requirements to be sure). I even tried to play it on steam link over wireless and it worked very well even with the needed twitch gameplay towards the later levels.
Take this door, I don't need it.
Parent recommendation

Mr. Shifty is rated Teen for Violence. But unlike “Miami Hotline” for instance the is no blood or gore. Concerning the use of bad language I saw the word A**hole used a few times in the beginning and your nemesis often calls foe his henchmen to kill you. However there is no trend of edgy cussing to be found in the game. The storyline does not take itself too serious and Team Shift uses some standard tropes in the game but they execute them with a smile seemingly fully aware that they are. Even though there is no multiplayer, the game is also great to just watch  being played by another and you can help by shouting out what to look out for or share tactics. You can also complete by taking turns replaying levels and see who can finish it quicker and /or with less deaths. 

Guns Yes, Blood No.
Overall Recommendation
Mr. Shifty brings a unique take on the genre and the addition of the teleportation powers brings a new dynamic to the top down shoot’m up gameplay. Hand to hand against an army of goons armed to the teeth? I like those odds! 
Even with a barebones presentation Mr. Shifty gets the job done and brings what is most important addictive gameplay. At time of writing I am still clearing the final level and am about 8 hours in. Due to way each level is presented in completion time and deaths and the many ways each area can be cleared , there is high replay value with the game, though I hope for future dlc to add more levels of even let us design our own. 

Game Information:
Title: Mr.Shifty
Developer: Team Shifty
Publisher: Tiny Build
Release date:April 13th, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Steam.
Version reviewed: Steam.


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