With a plethora of AAA titles being thrown around at E3, some of the best games can get drowned in all of the madness. Indie titles have proven in years past to sometimes make the best games and the same is true this year at E3. Mr. Shifty is a new title from SpeedRunners publisher tinyBuild, and proves that sometimes the best games are not the ones plastered up on the walls.
Mr. Shifty is a top-down action game, with a focus on speed and precision. The core mechanic of the game is the ability to teleport (of shift) across the map. This includes jumping through walls, speeding past enemies, or going right behind for a sneak attack. Think Hotline Miami, except you’re Nightcrawler from X-Men. While Mr. Shifty certainly resembles the brutal Hotline Miami, it sets itself apart just enough to not be a copy.
The teleportation mechanic completely changes on the game plays out. Instead of focusing on weapons, and planned methodical assaults, Mr. Shifty pushes to be more improvised, putting you into a level and trying to push speed instead of brutality. This focus changes how you feel while playing. Instead of feeling belittled while playing through, like in Hotline(which isn’t a bad thing), you feel like a badass, and that confidence pushes the combat forward. Every moment felt fluid and not forced, and at no point did I ever feel like I was lost. I jumped in the shoes of Mr. Shifty and I knew how to take charge of his abilities immediately.
While the combat does get away from the methodical approach of Hotline, it doesn’t necessarily mean the game isn’t hard. Enemies are much more dense, and their AI is much more intelligent. The most subtle move alerts enemies near you, with them generally responding in a dynamic way. This furthermore pushes the split second reaction that Mr. Shifty seems to be going for, and hits this point perfectly.
The difficulty doesn’t stop there either. Every enemy I encountered had a weapon, and one shot of that weapon would take you down. Furthermore, the weapons weren’t available to pick up, meaning you had to keep really personal with your foes in order to take them down. The focus on melee combat, combined with teleportation, creates a lot of tension in the map, the same palm-sweating feeling when walking into Hotline. Still though, I always felt capable of taking down my enemies, knowing that my teleportation gave me the upper hand.
Mr. Shifty seems like another game to be swept up with the other Indie titles at E3 upon first glance, but it would be a shame to pass up this title. I even went as far to send the other editors of Enthusiast Gaming to go and demo the title. It was just that good. Brett Medlock (Enthusiast Gaming Editor) went as far as to say that Mr. Shifty was his favorite game from the show.
The gameplay, fluidity, and execution of new mechanics combine to make Mr. Shifty an absolutely amazing game. My hat is off to Team Shifty (this is their debut title, by the way) and tinyBuild for putting such a fun and ruthless game together. If you haven’t yet, check out the Mr. Shifty announcement trailer below. The game launches in 2017.