Mr. Shifty isn’t the most glamorous name for a video game, it’s basic, but straight to the point and lets you know what you are in for. The beat ‘em up action game could also be described as a Nightcrawler simulator (the blue mutant who can teleport in the X-Men franchise). You are playing with a top-down perspective as the protagonist who is aptly named…you guessed it, Mr. Shifty.
Essentially the character is a thief with the goal of hijacking a plutonium core which resides in a high rise building full to the brim with security. The antagonist is Mr. Stone who owns the business that owns the secure building and basically the plutonium core is his, he doesn’t want to part with it just yet, so he orders his men to stop you by any means necessary. The only other named character is your trusty figurative eyes and ears Nyx, who helps direct you through the building, notifying you of any dangers. Everyone else is an unnamed NPC, which is great because you don’t exactly want to be going around killing Phil, Sally or Keith, without names there’s no remorse.
Gameplay is red hot on the addictiveness scale, like all great beat ‘em up’s, what I believe is most important is for the gameplay to be fun and it sure is. Shifting from spot to spot throwing lefts and rights to knock some haters out is satisfying to execute. I would often come back to the game after only putting it down half hour before hand because I was hooked on its gameplay.
But don’t let the simplicity fool you, it can be difficult to master as you will be thrown curveball after curveball whether it be the different types of enemies and their fighting styles or environmental changes. You have to keep your wits about you or suffer defeat after painful defeat, and trust me I know this all too well.
Three buttons and two sticks is all you need, with the right stick only to take a little look ahead of where you can see in order to prepare yourself. That leaves the left stick for movement and then the Y, B and A buttons for melee attack, shift and interact respectively. Alternatively, you can use the L and R buttons for melee and shift if you prefer. Either way the controls are dead easy to use and get used to.
The visuals lack fine detail, show some jagged lines and edges in places but combating those shortcomings the art style still provides a slick and clean look. More importantly the style fits the gameplay and story, it isn’t too serious and boasts a wide colour palette that’s been put to good use. From the darkened corridors of the underground stages to the bright lighting highlighting doorways or just as decorative pieces.
Hotline Miami springs to mind when listening to the soundtrack, Mr. Shifty doesn’t quite match that level of awesomeness, sure it instils a sense of retro nostalgia and fits with the spy, thief, heist theme, but it’s just not on the same level.
There are 18 level’s in total that take place in different sections/floors of the high rise building. Each level is then split into numerous areas/rooms which work as checkpoints. The fact that each room is a checkpoint is a great relief considering the amount of deaths you can rack up just in one room on the later levels, dependent on skill level I guess, but for me, I amassed my fair share. The one issue with the checkpoint system is that if the game closes for whatever reason, on purpose or an error, you will have to restart that level from the beginning, just something to be aware of as the error happened to me.
The difficulty increases with each level and even each room, with different enemies being introduced almost level by level and some room by room, then you would to huge rooms filled with a variety of the enemies in larger quantities, this caused two things. Number one, a lot of trial and error, reading the room and trying different approaches each time because one hit on you spells the end. Number two, framerate issues, the more action going on caused a stutter on screen, specifically in the latter part of the experience where masses of enemies was the M.O. of the game.
Story – 5/10
Visuals – 7/10
Sound – 6.5/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Game Design & Innovation – 7/10
Your skill level dictates how long the game takes to complete, that and your level of patience. Mr. Shifty is solid at its core with compelling gameplay and clean visuals, it lacks in story depth and on delivering memorable characters or a soundtrack, that isn’t to say I disliked my experience, in fact the opposite happened. I do have to be objective however and deliver a score I feel is fitting, taking into account each area not just the one’s I enjoyed.
OVERALL – 6.7/10 – AVERAGE
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin (Jester).
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Mr. Shifty on Nintendo Switch however this does not in anyway affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)