With the unknowable, immense danger of Mega Plutonium in the hands of evil asshole Chairman Stone, it’s up to the titular Mr. Shifty to defenestrate a tower full of goons using his signature brand of time-and-space-bending karate. It’s exactly as chaotic and awesome as it sounds, is my point.
Clearly inspired by the no-holds-barred visceral violence of Hotline Miami, Mr. Shifty looks to mix things up through the implementation of ridiculously satisfying superpowers. Mr. Shifty is the world’s #1 heist-man for a reason: he can shift clean through space in an instant. The player can use this to quickly teleport a set distance time and time again, to whizz between bullets, zig through walls, and zag your fist into the back of a motherfucker’s skull.
As you punch more and more, a little glowy fills until you attain BULLET TIME. It basically gives you an extra life; as a shot comes at you, time crawls to a halt giving you a glorious second chance, and enabling some furious v You can pick up mops, boards, staves, swords, lightning (???) and more to either pummel or skewer the opposition with, though guns are off the table.
Using your mobility to your advantage, you become the bullet, flying at opponents before kicking them through a wall. The weapons aren’t mean to define your approach of a stage, but instead be tools at your disposal and mold with the environment. They break within moments of obtaining, and are effectively powerups to transform your approach to the stage. Oftentimes you’ll chart a course and zip from weapon to weapon, cleaning house and taking names to make your life a little easier.
The story is campy and silly, with the script effectively being a long string of one-liners, but this sense of nonchalant fun dunks you straight into the tone of the game rather than softly seeping in. Mr. Shifty is all about honing your reflexes to achieve that inner zen. When you go “Neo Mode” and clean every clock in a room without so much as a scratch. In truth, you really can’t even afford a scratch, as our hero will die from anything. One bullet, one bomb, one strike, or one punch.
Making the most of your glass cannon capabilities is where the challenge manifests, as rooms full of shotguns and assault rifles necessitate utilizing every tool at your disposal to safely make it to the next elevator. The game does not offer you any upgrades or new skills as time goes on, instead it is your own experience and intimate knowledge with the game’s physics and onslaught of formidable enemies which permit you to successfully complete the world’s greatest heist.
Mr. Shifty is a game about power in a world where fragility reigns supreme. As you progress, enemies with more varied weaponry come at you in greater numbers. The threats opposing you persistently escalate, with new mechanics being introduced and then tossed the wayside constantly. This sense of forward momentum prevents any one feature from becoming trite or boring, keeping your interest and drive to ascend Stone’s Tower at nonstop adrenaline-rush pace, and truly drives its central gameplay concept as far as it can possibly go.
Mr. Shifty wisely chooses not to overstay it’s welcome, clocking in at around 4 hours of frenetic and entertaining gameplay. While this is most assuredly short for the asking price, especially when there’s currently no bonus stages or, really ANYTHING to spend some extra time with other than going for high scores, Mr. Shifty is still an ever-so enjoyable thrill-ride nonetheless. For twin-stick beat-em-up fans, this is a must-play; though not necessarily a priority.