Playing Mr. Shifty will make you feel like a badass quite simply. The eponymous hero of the game doesn’t utter a single line of dialogue as he breaks skulls, takes names and artfully teleports his way through never-ending danger, (inside the most lethal skyscraper ever constructed). Sounds fun, right? Read on.
Across 18 short stages Mr. Shifty confronts increasingly tougher odds: shotgun-wielding guards, exploding tunnels, brutes, lasers, accountants, (we see what you did there TinyBuild) and an evil CEO that just doesn’t know when to quit. Basically, Mr. Shifty doesn’t take itself too seriously, it knows what it is, it knows what it wants to do, and that’s why it succeeds so thoroughly.
The game is so over the top you can’t help but feel a rush of adrenaline as you play it. For Nintendo Switch players, each strike is further emphasised by the built-in HD Rumble feature; punches feel like they connect with the jaws you’re hitting. Not an essential addition by any means, but it adds to the enjoyment and reinforces the point that Mr Shifty is a one-man army. When he gets into the flow of things, that is.
Make no mistake, Shifty isn’t immortal. The depth of the gameplay comes in the rhythmic flow of combat. As the player it’s your job to judge when to shift, and how much to shift. Shift at the wrong time and you’re dead. Shift too much and leave yourself out in the open? It’s a shotgun in the gut for you. There are no second lives here, you will die over and over again. Most importantly though, you’ll want to try again.
Once you begin to master the timing of the shift, you’ll need to smack down your enemies in the precious few seconds you get. In the later levels of the game especially, the fast-paced gameplay goes something like this: shift, punch, punch, shift, shift, collect weapon, broom over the head, shift through a wall, recharge your ‘shifty meter’. To add to this, when you take out enough goons in a row, Mr. Shifty auto-engages his ‘shifty slo-mo’. This serves as the only lifeline the game will give you, allowing you to get caught in a spray of bullets and still come out alive.
While this non-stop action is going on, Mr. Shifty’s excellent soundtrack pulses on in the background, adding to the sense of rhythm and badassery. It repeats over the course of the game, so you can expect to have the songs firmly in your head after your first few play sessions. You can check out the video below for a taster of what’s on offer in the audio department.
The top-down visuals are simple, yet stylish in Mr. Shifty. Crucially, they allow you to see your enemies coming in from all angles as you form your plan of attack, and get ready to dance with your fists. Looking across the levels, by adjusting the movable camera, can be the key to survival as you weigh up which direction to shift through the skyscraper’s many rooms and halls. Often, this means you can outflank goons and eliminate them without retaliation.