Mr. Shifty is the type of game that feels like something out of a comic book. The titular character has a trick up his sleeves that will be a nuisance for his enemies. Mr. Shifty can, as his name suggests, shift.
The top-down camera in the game feels like Hotline Miami. Unlike that bloodbath, Mr. Shifty is a burglar with a conscience. Mr. Shifty will not kill his enemies. Instead, they all appear to be stunned after each confrontation. In fact, while there are in the game, all of them are melee based. The hero will mainly rely on his shifting ability and punches to dispose of the evil Mr. Stone’s gang.
Regarding narrative, Mr. Shifty is unfortunately forgettable. The basic premise is that you’ve entered a high rise building and must steal Mega Plutonium. Standing in your way is a cruel CEO that will stop at nothing to kill you. The problem with the narrative is that not much goes on. The characters are bland, the villain isn’t intimidating and the motivation to enter the building is uninspired. Like old action films, Mr. Shifty is all style and no substance.
There are exciting set-pieces throughout the eighteen level story mode. One particular instance sees Mr. Shifty chased by a wall of lasers trying to disintegrate the hero. Scattered throughout the hallway are barrels of explosives. Without a second to spare, one false move results in death. I died during this section multiple times but found myself sweating from the stress of the situation.
While Mr. Shifty isn’t necessarily difficult, there are plenty of overwhelming set-pieces that will test your reflexes. Without spoilers, there is a scene where different obstacles and enemies are starting to appear around you. What’s worse is that lasers are moving around the room in both vertical and horizontal directions. Despite being one of the harder portions of the game, I never found it to be impossible.
There are a wide variety of enemies that are easy to kill on their own. Mix these enemy types, and each battle becomes chaotic. It also doesn’t help that Mr. Shifty dies after one hit. Although you often feel overpowered, that doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Fortunately, after inflicting enough damage, Mr. Shifty can become faster than time itself. After filling up a meter at the bottom of the screen, our hero can dodge the next bullet that should hit him and slow down time to a standstill. Moments like this are the perfect time to strike and kill even the most difficult foes.
From a visual standpoint, Mr. Shifty is very unappealing. The cel-shaded graphics don’t look particularly great and appear dated. The audio aspects were solid, with an 80’s action film soundtrack which immersed me into each conflict Mr. Shifty found himself in.
Unfortunately, what hinders Mr. Shifty the most is the frame-rate. In the early levels, the game flows very well, but the last act tells an entirely different story. Due to a late game event, a large group of enemies will appear in almost every single room. When these instances suddenly occur, the game moves in single digits. The problem became so severe that I would often die because of these slowdowns. If it weren’t for this issue, Mr. Shifty would be a fantastic game to play. Sadly, I found he framerate to be too cumbersome.
Mr. Shifty is an interesting game with a unique premise. As an X-Men fan, Team Shifty’s game felt like the Nightcrawler title I’ve always wanted. Unfortunately, after finishing the 18 level campaign, I felt underwhelmed due to a strong opening resulting in a final act that felt unplayable at times. At the surface, Mr. Shifty appears to be a fantastic experience, but dull characters, a forgettable story and a myriad of problems prevent the game from reaching the greatness it deserves.