Secret agent? Thief? Scoundrel, maybe? Whatever you are, you get to wear a neat trench coat and a somewhat incongruous ball cap.
Oh yeah, you can also shift; and, no, I’m talking about driving a car.
Mr. Shifty is a survival maze runner with the ever popular theme of, “Take the dangerous toy away from the bad guy while trying very hard to not get killed.” In the game you get some help from Nyx; she has details about the building you’re in and provides you with some guidance.
You would think a super secret agent entrusted with saving the world would get some nifty weapons and armor, but you would be wrong. So very wrong. Your primary weapon is your fist, and you use it to very good effect. Your trench coat is your only armor, so no real help there. The game does drop items every now and then which you can pick up and use as weapons (an oar, a pop can, a piece of a statue, etc), but they pale to the very nifty special skill you have: the ability to shift. That is, to teleport about six feet in any direction.
In this regard you are a bit like Nightcrawler, but without the brimstone.
As you search the building for the Mega Plutonium, you will encounter numerous bad guys, many of them with guns, some with just really big muscles. Your ability to shift means you can pop behind an enemy and give him a good whacking before getting shot.
The game won’t make things too easy for you. First, there are lots of bad guys with lots of guns with many, many bullets in them. Keep an eye on the five blocks at the bottom of the screen—that’s your Shift charge indicator, and it regenerates at a steady pace so use them wisely. At certain points in the game there are shields the bad guys use to keep you from teleporting, so you’ll need to keep your wits about you.
You get to explore the building one floor at a time; maybe not every square foot of it, but at least what you need to see or navigate (or punch out). As you clear a level/floor, you make your way to the elevator to get to the next floor. I must admit, the elevator music is a nice touch.
Mr. Shifty was written for—and suggests you use—a game controller. I tried one and it worked fine, but I actually liked the feel of keyboard and mouse a little better. That may just be what I’m used to, but I could control the character movement a little better with the WASD + mouse combo.
Now that we have mentioned the mouse, and you know you don’t get a gun, you may be asking “what is the mouse for, anyway?” Good question. For Mr. shifty, the left button is attack (punch ‘em reeeeeealy hard) and the right button is the teleport. With either the game controller or the mouse, keep in mind where the little reticle is on the screen, as it serves two purposes:
- it’s where your attack will go (punch or weapon), and
- it’s the point to which you will teleport if you right click.
This can have terminally bad consequences if you are dodging lasers and zig when you should zag.
Speaking of lasers, there are plenty of sharks in this game and not a single laser on the head of any of them. As my good buddy might say, throw me a bone here, people.
As you run around (and you do pretty much run all the time) there is enough dodging, shifting, punching, tridenting (you’ll get there soon enough), and figuring-out-how-not-to-die (again) to keep a gamer’s fingers busy for hours. The graphics are fairly simple, and all you get is a 2D environment (no jumping or stairs or whatnot), but the look is clean. The soundtrack is good and the elevator music is nowhere nearly as annoying as Muzak. You’ll have to figure out the action patterns, and when it comes to mêlée, the larger brawls can get a bit hairy since everyone is basically out to kill only you.
Mr. Shifty does come with a few oddities in the code—like when you take out one of the goons and he starts twitching on the floor, or the shadow of an object you can see through a “solid” wall—but none of them hinder the game play.
So Here It Is
Mr. Shifty’s balance of running around, strategizing, and fighting provides a good pace of play. The story is enough to engage the player’s sense of “mission,” while all the dying spurs the “I can beat this thing” motivator. I’m not quite through everything yet, but the game is very engaging and just frenetic enough to keep a player coming back; I’ve had no problem going at it for an hour at a time. Also, even after an hour of play unplugged, the game only drained about 25% to 30% of the battery on my Macbook. As a package, Mr. Shifty is a fun game and worth checking out.
Genre: Arcade action
Developer: Team Shifty
Minimum Requirements: OS X v10.7, 2 GHz Dual Core processor, 2 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 650 GTX or AMD Radeon 7850 HD series graphics card, 2 GB available disk space
Availability: Now on Steam