Our Mr. Shifty Review

Like Hotline Miami + Nightcrawler from X-Men

Fast paced action puncher Mr. Shifty is due out later today (April 13th) from developer Team Shifty and published by TinyBuild games. You take on the persona of Mr. Shifty, an on the nose named thief that can teleport. This ability makes things like doors, walls, and windows a non-issue. Mr. Shifty can shift through them and capture his score. And this is our Mr. Shifty review.

Mr. Shifty’s handlers have sent him on a mission against Mr… well. His name doesn’t matter. Apparently, he is a generic corporate asshole criminal and needs to be relieved of plutonium. In comes our master thief to save the day.

In addition to shifting through objects Mr. Shifty likes to punch things. He lunges while punching and this move can cover some serious ground. He can also pick up weapons laying around and attack with them or throw them. My favorites were the golden trident and proximity mines. Tridents fly on a straight path and can skewer multiple enemies along the way while proximity mines are activated when you pick them and detonate on a timer. This leaves you enough leeway to run a small distance with them, toss’em, and take out packs of bad guys. While Mr. Shifty may be quick, he isn’t durable. One hit is all it takes to kill him. While it may be fun to get in a fist fight, it doesn’t take much for Mr. Shifty to be unable to walk away from one.

Where Mr. Shifty really succeeds is in the puzzle elements of the game. Not everything is about pure action, though you can punch your way out of most situations. You may find it’s easier to break into a room and trick enemies into getting themselves cut down with spinning lasers that were meant to take out Shifty. Teleporting between walls and kicking doors down to take out multiple enemies. Not everything has to be as straightforward as it seems. If the odds looked stacked against you, chances are there is something in the environment you can use to your advantage.

mr shiftyOne of the early traps you’ll encounter removes Mr. Shifty’s ability to shift. This makes for boring stages. The typical goal in these rooms is to disable power sources that run the suppressor machines. However, eliminating Mr. Shifty’s namesake move makes for meh gameplay.

Mr. Shifty has a great art style with a throwback color pallet that reminds me a lot of 70’s and 80’s comic books. The style also lends itself to look nice on a handheld display. I played Mr. Shifty on the Switch version and when it was docked and on a PC monitor the characters looked too jagged. In hand held mode the graphics looked tighter and crisp. I did notice slight frame rate issues when Mr. Shifty would teleport from time to time and there was a lot of explosions on the screen.

mr. shifty reviewMr. Shifty encourages you to replay a stage to run it faster and finish it with fewer deaths with the ultimate goal being a perfect 0.  Mr. Shifty will be released on both Steam and the Nintendo Switch with the later of the two being the better platform. With stages set to last between 5 to 20 minutes this style of gameplay lends itself to pick up and go mobile play. Mr. Shifty also isn’t the type of game that you would necessarily want to sit down and play for extended periods of time. While there is a sense of satisfaction in figuring out a particularly difficult room most encounters tend to become repetitive and boring long before you complete the game. Sometimes the biggest challenge is committing the time to complete the stage.

Editor’s Note: Our review of Mr. Shifty was done on the Nintendo Switch with a retail code provided by tinyBuild’s PR firm.

  • Great concept
  • Wonderful style
  • Solid mechanics
  • Bit of a one trick pony
Written by
RPG fan extraordinaire, electronic or pen and paper, columnist at GameSpace.com and MMORPG.com.

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