Mr. Shifty is the perfect example of a game that doesn’t take its self too seriously. Combining a top-down brawler style similar to that of Hotline Miami with teleportation, it creates an experience that’s not only addictive by nature but also incredibly fun.
The game’s protagonist is Mr. Shifty – a thief who’s goal is to steal a compound known as mega plutonium from an evil genius hell-bent on destabilizing governments and causing general global mischief. The first levels of the game ease you in quite nicely.
At first, the teleportation ability seems like more of a gift than a necessity. Shifty’s basic enemies are no match for a thief who can punch through walls and for a fairly substantial period of time the game makes you feel unstoppable. As the game progresses, however, so too does the difficulty and after a few levels, teleportation is definitely key to success.
Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, the most basic punching bags come in the form of pistol operating agents who offer about as much resistance as a carrier bag. The next level up comes in the form of a brute-type NPC, these guys can take more damage and, if they catch you at close range can be fatal. For the most part though Shifty can dispatch a good ten or twelve of these guys without really breaking a sweat.
The most basic punching bags come in the form of pistol operating agents who offer about as much resistance as a carrier bag
The game excels in its later levels where a range of enemies attempt to take on our protagonist. Machine gunners, missile experts, flamethrower soldiers, and ninjas all take up arms in an attempt to silence Mr. Shifty. This variety of class and move set is enough to keep you on your toes at all times and as the game progressed I noticed myself developing certain tactics to clear out a room.
Quite possibly the most dangerous resistance the game has to offer, however, are accountants. Dressed in red, not only do they look sharp but they shoot sharp too. An accountants lock-on is far quicker than other NPC’s and if you’re not careful they’ll dispatch you in a cool and calculated manner.
An accountants lock-on is far quicker than other NPC’s and if you’re not careful they’ll dispatch you in a cool and calculated manner
It’s apparent throughout Mr. Shifty that developer’s Team Shifty have worked incredibly hard ensuring that the game finds the right balance between difficulty and the overpowered nature of its protagonist. Having spent the best part of seven hours teleporting around the game’s various levels, the game constantly pushes you to develop and hone your skills. Various mechanics also help to keep the game interesting.
Generators provide power to anti-teleportation fields which limit Shifty’s movements. In these areas it’s key to strategically set out each kill, Shifty’s life works similarly to that of Hotline Miami and other brawlers, taking one hit, regardless of the enemy will be fatal. The game incorporates various hazards besides enemy NPC’s – deadly lasers, explosive barrels and trip mines must all be navigated in order to survive.
Mr. Shifty’s collision engine is one of its finest features. Doors, crates, office equipment and hard drugs can all be destroyed throughout the game’s various levels to give Shifty the upper hand. Doors can be used to kick at enemies, taking them out of play whilst other items can be broken leaving valuable weapons to fight off the incoming waves of gunmen.
The art-style presented throughout Mr. Shifty is polished and cartoon like in style. Throughout my time with Mr. Shifty I did experience a few framerate issues especially in later levels where not only were there a mass of incoming enemies but also explosions and collisions all taking place on screen at once. Although this was at no point game breaking, it did occasionally leave me dying due to a laggy bullet or teleportation here and there which in later levels was certainly frustrating.
Doors, crates, office equipment and hard drugs can all be destroyed throughout the game’s various levels to give Shifty the upper hand
That being said upon death, your respawn time is incredibly quick. One press of a button and you can start the current area again. The lack of loading times is certainly essential to gameplay. There will be times where you die a lot throughout Mr. Shifty and if there was a wait time between these points then I could see players not giving this title the time of day.
It’s also great to see Team Shifty going the extra mile here as well. Not only is the respawn time a fantastic feature but its cleverly manufactured in a way that avoids cutscenes. If you die after a cutscene and the respawn location is set before that cutscene then the game acknowledges this as such and skips the cutscene in future attempts. Whilst this isn’t essential, it certainly encouraged me to keep playing and beat the complete each level going through.
From start to finish I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mr. Shifty, its comedic writing, music, and well thought out mechanics have made for an experience driven by chaos and destruction. At times it grants you the power to feel unstoppable, and that’s awesome!
This copy of Mr. Shifty was sent as a PC review copy upon request by Team Shifty’s PR Team. Our Editor In Chief Jared Moore spent about 7 hours punching his way through various levels, oh except for the one with the trident in, there was less punching in that one, did we mention there’s a trident?