If you are a fan of the brutally tough Hotline Miami, then this indie title is definitely for you. Team Shifty has taken inspiration from the 2012 hit and was inspired to add their own spin on it by mixing in the use of teleportation like Nightcrawler from the X-Men series. Mr. Shifty is out now on the Steam Store and Nintendo Switch.
There isn’t much to the story besides this, and it’s fairly basic: You are a thief with teleporting abilities making your way through a high security tower called Olympus Tower, owned by Chairman Stone, to steal a plutonium core being held there. Like in many games, the player has someone to help guide you. You are given various instructions from Agent Nyx as Mr. Shifty progresses up the tower, clearing out the henchmen and thugs on each floor.
The gameplay for Mr. Shifty is simple. Whilst the game recommends that you use a gamepad or a controller, it’s actually not necessary. The player controls Mr. Shifty who has a combination of only three abilities to plow through the enemies in each stage: teleport a short distance to get the jump on enemies, a hard punch attack, and the ability to pick up melee weapons to attack armed goons. You have to keep an eye out on the blue energy meter since it depletes a certain amount after each use of the teleportation ability (it usually takes about five uses of the ability to completely drain the meter). The good news is that it does recharge by itself over time. Basically, you have to find your way through the tower, and thinking ten steps ahead is the key to getting through the game in one piece. In the end, it’s all about finding the best strategy to make your way through the tower.
We are reviewing the Steam version of this indie title, and whilst we did not use a gamepad, we still experienced no problems using the basic default settings of the controls. They were always responsive, which was useful while taking out a huge number of opponents.
The music surely does fit the aesthetic and it sounds great for this indie gem. It’s on point and never sounds out of place. Most of the time it’s in a loop and could possibly get tiring, but the game itself isn’t so long that it should be a big problem.
One turn off for Mr. Shifty is that it is repetitive, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it’s also explosive and fast-paced. For most of the game, the player takes out henchmen by punching and shifting, and that makes up mostly half, if not all, of the gameplay. You can get creative with your tactics by popping into a room and leaving a grenade to easily clear out the enemies within, or you could even get thugs to take each other out by tricking them into shooting each other. There are a lot of rooms within the tower that have puzzle-like qualities to them, where quick thinking is required to not suffer an insta-death. As you make your way through the stages and the tower, it gets harder and harder.
One feature that could have been implemented was the option to have Mr. Shifty handle all weapons instead of just using melee ones, like using a mop to wipe up them goons. There are times where henchmen are armed with flamethrowers and rocket launchers, so it would have been nice if the player had the capability to pick up these weapons from defeated enemies and use them. This feature would have definitely made things a bit more fun, and it would have added another welcome layer of complexity to this game. However, if one does think about what Team Shifty was trying to do by making the Mr. Shifty character a melee-only fighter, it makes some sense.
In conclusion, Mr. Shifty is a neat brawler that adds in a warping ability to let you get the jump on thugs, and the 18 stages consisting of 140 levels in this fast-paced game can be finished in about five hours. Mr. Shifty could have easily been a good sequel to Hotline Miami, instead it’s more like a spiritual successor with teleportation powers and without the ability to use guns. Looking forward to seeing what Team Shifty does next.
Developer: Team Shifty
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 13th April 2017