Developer: Team Shifty
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Release Date: Mid-April 2017
If there was one game we played at PAX East that makes you feel like a badass, it would have to be Mr. Shifty. This fast-paced, top-down shooter/brawler stars the expert master of infiltration, Mr. Shifty himself. What makes this expert burglar so allusive? Well, as his name might allude, his ability to teleport himself. Players will punch, pound, and plow their way through various heists, brawls, and rescue missions. This game is just as much about avoidance as it is fighting though: it only takes one hit and you are wasted.
Mr. Shifty is extremely easy to pickup and understand. It is essentially a two-button game: attack and teleport. The controls felt natural and intuitive, and the game quickly threw you into the fast-paced brutal action. It’s hard to not draw parallels to the Hotline Miami series, and the two share a number of similarities. But Mr. Shifty is inherently much easier to control, and has a very visceral feel to it.
You start off unarmed, with only your fists of glory and your shifting teleport ability to aid you. It’s hard to not feel like an action movie star as you shift through walls, taking down unsuspecting guards. What I found the most enjoyable is that there is no single right way to complete a level. It’s all about finding your own solution, using your surroundings to set traps and find weapons.
I found myself going out of the way to destroy nearby furniture in search of new hidden weapons. My favorite were these large statues holding tridents, which, when punched, allow you to equip them. Throwing these pierces all enemies its path, which worked well against some of the heavily armored guards. As Mr. Shifty progresses they introduce new enemy types. I was told by the tinyBuild staff on hand that the guards wielding flame-throwers later in the game are quite difficult to deal with.
There is just something about kicking down a door and sending a guard flying out a glass window that makes it hard to put down the controller. Mr. Shifty gets progressively more difficult and chaotic as the game progresses too, forcing you to use your teleport ability wisely. It’s ultimately a game of timing and movement, requiring players to execute well-timed attacks and teleports to avoid getting shot. For fans of high-octane, chaotic brawling, Mr. Shifty looks like it checks all the right boxes.