Published on April 17th, 2017 | by Kyle V. Hiller0
Mr Shifty is a 2D beat em up that follows a teleportation-fueled heist to break into the world’s most secure facility. The tower features individual levels with objectives that typically include clearing all the enemies or retrieving items. Mr. Shifty can teleport through walls, past his enemies, pick up weapons, and ultimately fight their way in style. The game is indeed reminiscent of Hotline Miami, but it takes the idea and builds on it, bringing a sensationally tense experience.
Mr Shifty challenges the player in its scenarios as each stage swells with more enemies. Often, you’ll find yourself caught up brawling with various types of bad guys: some have super strength, shotguns or machine guns. Mr. Shifty’s teleportation is limited to thin walls, presenting other tests for the player to overcome. Levels can get claustrophobic as it grows taut and enemies flood into the rooms. Rooms more open with walls close in as environments are destroyed, becoming a wide open mess with nowhere to hide. Weapons you pick up along the way break, and Mr. Shifty dies in one hit. All this keeps Mr Shifty from being merely a button masher. It’s a beat-em-up that uses tact in rapid, high-pressured brawls. It’s unrelenting but doesn’t overwhelm and it feels rewarding at every stage clear.
Progressing through the 18 levels in your search to steal plutonium, Mr Shifty introduces new mechanics and techniques to keep the gameplay engaging. Some levels bring up nostalgia for the original Metal Gear on NES with its emphasis on stealth or getting around enemies. Other levels will test your patience or bring in enemies or machines that fight back in unique ways. But at the heart, the game is about shifting. While it doesn’t wear entirely thin, Mr Shifty is not as complex as other beat-em-ups might be. It’s emphasis on shifting is carefully calculated as your greatest tool, and executing it is more than satisfying. Having any other tools would clutter Mr Shifty’s manifesto and would leave more to be desired.
Mr Shifty isn’t the most groundbreaking game visually, but what it does do best is create a cel-shaded style that’s simple and doesn’t distract the player. It’s glossy finish amongst relatively sparse details lend themselves more to the combat, which is the most important part of the game.
The game also lacks any compelling storyline, much like a classic arcade beat-em-up. Shifty is on a mission to steal plutonium, and that’s all we need to know. Even Shifty doesn’t bother trying to contribute to the story, remaining comically silent throughout the game. He’s been hired to do a job and he gets the job done.
Mr Shifty excels as a beat-em-up, shining through a combat system that’s tense, compelling and frenetic. It doesn’t get in the way of itself with a complex roster of moves or weapons or narrative. Mr Shifty knows what it wants to be, making it a game that’s easy to jump into and embrace.
3 stars out of 5.