Warping into a room filled with gun toting henchmen, smashing them and warping back out of the fray is frenetic, challenging and addictive fun. Mr. Shifty is a top-down, twitch action game in a similar vein to the popular Hotline Miami series. Akin to the aforementioned Hotline Miami. Mr. Shifty provides non-stop, linear action, as the player navigates each room within a level with rapid succession. Clearing each room presents a substantial challenge, as the player is killed with a single blow from enemy projectiles or melee contact. Surviving each encounter requires swift reflexes and decisive strategy implementation on the fly.
Shifty’s gameplay revolves around the use of teleportation mechanics, which result in a satisfying, ethereal disbursement of smoke (think Nightcrawler), as the player disappears and reemerges in a short distance to where the cursor is on the screen. Utilizing a gamepad allowed for precise and seamless control over Shifty, as I dispatched enemy threats handily and evaded enemy attacks with split second reactions. Melding warp mechanics and predominantly unarmed combat, results in a synergistic dance between defensive and offensive maneuvering. Gameplay is layered by an interesting soundtrack which serves as a catalyst for the intensity of each encounter. While the soundtrack is solid, there wasn’t enough variety as I progressed throughout each encounter.
As the player progresses through the level, the challenges become increasingly difficult as cover becomes more sporadic and enemies more lethal. Fortunately, there are a fair amount of projectile weapons which can be picked up and thrown at the enemy; in example, a trident which linearly pierces through enemies and eventually impales them on the nearest flat surface (it’s glorious)! Baiting the enemy into environmental traps can be dangerous but efficient, if pulled off correctly. The environment itself is interesting at first, but tends to become more redundant as elements are recycled and rearranged in later levels. Enemy design is clever, as each NPC sports unique colors based on their weapon, to help the player quickly identify what kind of threat they’re dealing with.
Graphically, the game has a colorful pulp/classic pop comic book art style, which really adds an appealing, vibrant flare to the action. Less aesthetically pleasing however, are the generic color coded doors which serve as transitions between rooms. In the final version, I would like to see a bit more variety in that regard.
Mr. Shifty appears to be a well polished addition to the run-and-gun genre. While the beta version kept me playing from start to finish, I would like to see more variation in terms of combat mechanics, enemy design and sound.
Developer: Team Shifty
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems