Wow, the Indie scene has been killing it on the Nintendo Switch ever since the week it launched. It seems like every seven days there’s a brand new awesome game to experience, and here we are again with a really enjoyable digital download. Mr. Shifty represents the best of what the Nintendo Switch can accomplish in handheld mode: fast, accessible, easy to learn mechanics that can be played for a few minutes or appreciated for hours on end. It’s an expertly polished experience and yet another game that deserves a place on your Switch’s Home Screen.
Mr. Shifty is a very straightforward game that takes almost no time to understand and enjoy. You play as, you guessed it, Mr. Shifty himself, who no doubt earns the moniker from his ability to shift through walls and objects. That’s right, he can teleport short distances and warp around the environment at Flash-like speed. This is accomplished by the game’s amazing gameplay mechanics and innovative bird’s eye view of the action. The entire game is shown off from above, looking down into various rooms and hallways and in many ways reminds me of looking down at a board game like Clue. At all times you see your character and floating a few feet away is a single white dot. That dot marks where you will warp to when you press the button. Turn your character in any direction and that dot moves along with you, giving you the precision needed to make accurate shifts. You have a bar at the bottom of the screen that shows how many times you can warp in a row. As you use them, they will regenerate over a few seconds, but you usually have at least five when fully charged. That means you can really zap around the environment at will, and man does it feel good!
You see, you’re job is to infiltrate the world’s most secure building to retrieve a special weapon. Layered throughout the skyscraper are hordes of enemies and other traps. Since you can see into the rooms from above, you have access to where the enemies are placed. Some will just be standing still with guns ready, their laser targets waiting for you to come bursting through the door. Of course, with your powers, you don’t need to use the door, any wall will do! It’s so satisfying to shift through the wall and come up behind the enemies and take them out with a swift punch. You have other options at your disposal as well. You learn early on that you can actually kick a door so hard it flies off its hinges and will demolish any nearby enemies. Throwing them out of a window to their death is also great fun. The game encourages you to take out a multitude of enemies in quick succession, which will fill up a bar, allowing you to enter a slowed down bullet time mode to avoid enemy attacks.
What the game does so well is that it throws hordes of enemies at you at all times. There’s always a patrol or an army of goons just waiting for you to enter their crosshairs to take you down. Since you die with a single shot, the stakes are quite high for you to perfect your shifting abilities. Let’s just say it’s a good thing you have unlimited lives and you can continue right back where you were instantly if you do die. There’s not an annoying loading screen or anything else, you just start again and try to do better until eventually you succeed. These instant do-overs helped keep me engaged in the game instead of giving up on tougher objectives.
The game’s graphics, at first glance, may look rather simplistic. Once you begin playing you’ll begin to notice that they’re actually quite detailed, with realistic shadows on all of the objects and characters. The animation is fantastic and the amount of destructible items littered throughout the game is staggering. The enemies will hear sounds, so if you accidentally (or purposely) knock over a bookshelf or break a potted plant, they’ll often come running to see what’s causing all the ruckus. You can use this to your advantage to warp behind them and take them out all stealth-like, which is oh so satisfying. You can also pick up various items from the environment and use them as weapons, like a coffee cup, or a trident (because, hey, who doesn’t have a trident just laying around the office?).
It’s not just enemies you have to worry about during your quest though; there are plenty of other obstacles just waiting to slow you down. This facility seems to love using laser beams to prevent entry or escape. Luckily you can shift through them with ease, but several rooms will have many of them moving in different directions at the same time, which can become rather tricky to time each teleportation just right. Thankfully you can also use lasers to your advantage. In one room there’s a pillar that emits deadly beams of light when you press a button. However there are glass barriers blocking the lasers. If you go in and break the glass first and then activate the weapon, the death rays can stretch out and vaporize your enemies for you, which I must admit is an exhilarating massacre to behold.
As I mentioned, the visuals work well here, both on the TV and on the Switch’s portable screen. The music is especially awesome, with a pumping, energetic soundtrack that really gets you in the mood to slaughter some bad guys. Seriously, this music deserves to be heard, so if you are on the go make sure to throw some headphones on so you get the full badass experience. As good as the audio visual presentation is, the writing is what really propels the game forward and it’s edgy, funny, and informative all at the same time. It’s often short and to the point, but it gives the game a sense of style that works with everything else to make it a memorable journey. On top of that, you can feel every single warp and punch via the HD Rumble. If you’re breaking objects on the right hand side of the screen you’ll feel the jolts in the right Joy-Con and vice versa. It adds yet another level of immersion and gels perfectly with the action taking place on-screen.
Out of all of the Indie games shown during the Nindies Showcase in February, Mr. Shifty was one of the games I least expected to enjoy. After playing hours and hours, I’ve come away impressed with just how much fun this game actually is. Its perfect combination of stealth, brutal takedowns, frenetic action, strategy, and entertaining writing make this one of the best games available for the Nintendo Switch. I gasped more than once at the sheer absurdity of the over-the-top mayhem thrown at me, and then just smiled as I pummeled my way through what seemed like impossible odds. Mr. Shifty is one of those rare games that makes you feel powerful with every takedown, and begs you to play just a few minutes more until you realize a few hours have passed. If you like your games filled with nonstop action that require lightning reflexes, this one’s for you.
Mr. Shifty Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 9.5/109.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8.5/108.5/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
If you enjoy non-stop action games with just a hint of strategy and stealth, then Mr. Shifty is simply a must-own. The pumping soundtrack, awesome takedowns, and spot-on gameplay make it one of the best games currently available for the Nintendo Switch.