PAX South 2017: Warping Walls and Cracking Skulls With Mr. Shifty [Preview]
Planning a heist on a building full of armed goons isn’t easy, especially when your thief prefers the solid contact of hand-to-hand melee combat. Armed security might seem daunting to say the least. However, Mr. Shifty has more than one trick up his sleeve. With the power to jump space in an instant, you’ll be brutalizing the suits that stand in your way in short order. We met with tinyBuild at PAX South to learn more and experience the fast-paced action of the upcoming Mr. Shifty from Team Shifty and we came away with an adrenaline rush like few others on the floor.
Mr. Shifty is a top-down third-person action game where you’re guiding the titular Mr. Shifty floor to floor to get at whatever mysterious valuables lay at the top. Mr. Shifty is a man of few words and to that end, the game got right into the thick of it with little hesitation. Outside a brief tutorial and occasional radio communication from an outside partner letting us know what was going on, a big chunk of our demo revolved around clearing each floor of varying enemies, navigating rooms and obstacles and escaping to the nearest working staircase or elevator. The story is there, but Mr. Shifty knows what it does best and the emphasis is on the action.
So what puts the “shift” in Mr. Shifty? The answer is a versatile teleportation mechanic. With the click of a button, Mr. Shifty can teleport short distances in an instant. This includes moving past walls, moving between gaps in the building structure and more as you navigate the grounds. In our time with the demo, it made for harrowing escapes when the bad guys were storming a room to be able to just instantly jump one room over. It also allows multitude of options when planning a great sneak attacks on unsuspecting saps on the other side of an obstacle.
Your main method of attack is a simple punch, though few games have ever made it feel more satisfying. Hit an enemy and they’ll go flying backwards, usually through whatever obstacle happens to be in the way. Hit them through a table and it’ll shatter into debris. Hit them through a glass window and they’ll have time to pick the pieces out on the long fall down. Punch a door? It’ll go flying off the hinges at any unfortunate suit standing on the other side. Between the teleportation and impactful martial arts, Mr. Shifty is like if Nightcrawler from the X-Men ate some Popeye-grade spinach and went on a rampage.
Of course, just because Mr. Shifty seems to have a thing against firearms doesn’t mean his firsts are his only means of expressing himself. Various impromptu melee weapons can also be used to bludgeon the bejeezus out of enemies for a short time. Janitor brooms are the first we came across, but breaking tables with people also yielded the table’s legs for use. We also saw metal pipes and what appeared to be a throwable trident up for grabs if you can get your hands on them. Each weapon we used could be used up close or thrown for a quick distance attack. Our favorite move was to chuck a broom at a thug, teleport in to catch said broom and finish the stunned suit off with a face-breaking strike.
Despite the fact that you are indeed a powerhouse of agility and strength, you’re not invincible in Mr. Shifty. Recall that enemies are mostly armed with guns. Those aren’t just for show. Get caught out in the open and Mr. Shifty can be shot down in a heartbeat. Add to this a gauge that handles Mr. Shifty’s teleportation. There are five segments. Using a teleport uses a segment while killing an enemy refills a segment. Take a bullet and all segments clear as you enter a slow-motion bullet time, allowing a short opportunity to escape or make a kill as you wait for the gauge to refill. This made certain segments packed full of enemies much more strategic and difficult as we determined the best way to dispatch foes in a frenetic pace.
Our time with Mr. Shifty was chaotic and pulse-pounding to say the least. Dispatching offices full of armed thugs with our bare hands was immensely gratifying. A big part of that simply came from the impact Mr. Shifty applies in its combat visuals. We can think of few games where a simple punch felt so good. The teleportation mechanic also makes for versatile hit-and-run opportunities. At times, Mr. Shifty feels overpowered, but the game keeps you in check by supplying a large number and variety of goons that will be happy to put you in your place. Our demo went from easy to difficult quickly, but the results were sickeningly sweet. Mr. Shifty looks like it’s going to be a heist to remember.
Mr. Shifty is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac in Spring 2017.