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Mr. Shifty Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While it's easy to compare this to Hotline Miami, Mr. Shifty manages to set itself apart by focusing on the beat-em-up mechanics and fun superhero abilities. I do wish there was a little more to the moves and less repetition to the level designs, but neither of those issues will keep players from having a great time jumping through walls and beating up bad guys. Although far from perfect, Mr. Shifty is a good start to what could become a great franchise. Rating: 71%
Mr. Shifty
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Ever since Devolver Digital unleashed Hotline Miami in 2012, we've seen countless developers attempt to mimic the success with mixed results. While most are fun, few change the formula enough to truly stand out. But not Mr. Shifty, a game that uses the ultra-violent shoot-em-up as a blueprint and adds a heavy dose of superhero action to concoct an original beat-em-up that manages to feel simultaneously familiar and fresh. It's a tricky balance, but somehow the appropriately named Team Shifty has managed to pull off the impossible.

Instead of using masks and guns, the titular hero is able to teleport around the screen and smack enemies before they have time to react. Think of Mr. Shifty as a poorly dressed Nightcrawler clone, the kind of guy who can jump through walls and zip around the room avoiding bullets. Instead of using guns to take out his foes, he'll use his special abilities to gain the upper hand and smack the enemies about. And if that doesn't work, he'll grab weapons like a broom, sword or even a keyboard to get the job done. Just not a gun, because that would make his job too easy.


Mr. Shifty's task is to slowly climb a massive skyscraper in hopes of stealing a valuable item from the evil Chairman Stone. He's aided by a voice in his ear, but it largely comes down to clearing out room after room until he finds an elevator to the next stage. Although the locations change over the course of the 18 stages, it mostly involves our hero beating up scores of enemies until a door opens. He'll run into a few complications along the way, but the central goal remains the same throughout.

While the formula may not be especially original, the way you go about fighting the Chairman's goons certainly is. Mr. Shifty can teleport up to five times in a row before he'll need to recharge his ability. Although limited, this is more than enough juice to get him in, cause a lot of damage and then warp to safety. He'll also be able to build up a special meter that will effectively stop time and shift the momentum back in his favor. All this is a lot of fun, and the game makes good use of his ability throughout the lengthy adventure.

At first it seems like Mr. Shifty is going to rely heavily on stealth, since a lot of the action revolves around jumping through walls to avoid enemies. But that is largely thrown out the window in the second half, where it becomes more about fighting waves of enemies in wide-open rooms. This is where the game started to lose me. While I certainly had fun brawling my way through the bad guys, the action became a bit repetitive towards the end.

A lot of the reason for this is because Mr. Shifty doesn't gain any new abilities in those 18 stages. Instead of learning a new skill, the game opts for throwing new types of enemies at you. We go from fighting large muscle men to guys with flame throwers and rocket launchers. This ratchets up the difficulty in a big way, but it felt like it was missing something without the ability to learn new moves over the course of the game. The fun of the game comes in the first half, when you're still experimenting with the teleportation and not bogged down by wave after wave of the same enemies.

Mr. Shifty (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Minor complaints about the repetition aside, I ended up having a lot of fun shifting through the levels and toying with the enemies. It's incredibly satisfying when you can zip around the screen confusing the bad guys, or even use their attacks against them. This is a quick game where the action is always snappy, and even if you get shot, it won't take more than a couple seconds to restart the room and try it all over again. Mr. Shifty is a tough game that expects you to die trying dozens of times, and even when I died 130 times in a single stage, I never got frustrated to the point of wanting to quit.

Visually, the game looks good and runs smoothly. The overhead graphics are fairly simple, but I never had a problem keeping track of what was going on in the chaos. My only real gripe about the presentation is that the high rise you're fighting through isn't as diverse as I would have liked. You'll end up seeing a lot of the same graphics and colors recycled from floor to floor, which can sometimes feel a bit limiting. It would have been nice to see Mr. Shifty do his thing in radically different environments, and perhaps that's something they'll consider if they ever decide to make a sequel.

While it's easy to compare this to Hotline Miami, Mr. Shifty manages to set itself apart by focusing on the beat-em-up mechanics and fun superhero abilities. I do wish there was a little more to the moves and less repetition to the level designs, but neither of those issues will keep players from having a great time jumping through walls and beating up bad guys. Although far from perfect, Mr. Shifty is a good start to what could become a great franchise.
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