Disclaimer right off the top. I was unable to finish the game. On what I assume is the final level I encountered a game breaking bug, wherein the game would freeze then the game would crash. I replayed the level titled “The End” to the same exact part of the level three times before calling it quits and getting ready to write this review.
Mr. Shifty feels like a distant cousin to Hotline Miami. They have a similar play style, and a familiar top down view, but a few levels in you can feel the stark differences pile up. In Hotline Miami you could play as a berserker, ripping and tearing through most that stand before you, as most enemies drop from a single crushing blow. Mr. Shifty, on the other hand uses cunning and the super power of teleportation. You can zip from room to room, in between most walls, terrorizing the guards, hitting and running, and praying the AI Gods won’t allow an enemy to be in mid gunfire or punch animation on arrival. Mr. Miami and Mr. Shifty both die in one hit from any enemy, but the opposition faced by Mr Shifty is made of sturdier stock, able to take two, three, or even four punches before dropping. Mr. Shifty also has an aversion to firearms, and only uses melee weapons for a short time before they decay. The focus is much more on Hit-and-Run tactics and duping the AI into killing itself. Early on this is quite fun, but around three hours in I started to feel like the levels became less about what tactics I should use to clear the room, and more about what tactics I would use to exploit the AI to kill itself. I haven’t spoken with the developers, so I am unsure if this was the intention, but it seemed so. I gradually started to enjoy the game less and less as I played due to this. The skills I developed in the first few hours went by the wayside to tricking the rocket launcher guy or combat shotgun lady to gun everyone else down. I also felt that with a joystick some of the rooms with laser puzzles were tiring to get through due to the imprecise movement during teleportation. It was a pain, but eventually doable.
The Story was very barebones, but enjoyable, with the titular Mr. Shifty sent from what seems to be a para-governmental group to steal SUPER HYPER PLUTONIUMS or something. There are several twists, and turns, but the core gameplay is what will keep you involved, not the story. The art was comicbook / cartoony and very vivid, and nice to look at, but there wasn’t a ton of varying environments. Offices, warehouses, top secret jails / labs all looked kinda samey. You’ll see the same statues of greek gods, and the same soda machines in all these environments, which is great, considering they offer the best weapons in the game.
Overall Mr. Shifty was a fun game, but by that (what I assume) was the final level I couldn’t complete, I was pretty drained. It went from playing the game, to gaming the system. I will go back to this game once I see the next update, but I won’t say this will be on my replay list for years to come. Hopefully in the future we will be able to meet Mrs. Shifty, for a little co-op romp, but overall I don’t see much of a desire to go back and get better times, or less deaths per stage.
6 out of 10
Footage from the gameplay leading to this review can be seen on our teams Twitch page: