Initially available on browsers and later ported to iOS devices, Shift is a 2D Flash puzzle game created by Anthony Lavelle and published by Armor Games. The object is to guide a character to the exit door of each stage by way of rotating and flipping the world and the protagonist.
Shifting World brings Shift's gameplay to the Nintendo 3DS courtesy of developer Fishing Cactus and publisher Aksys Games. Instead of the generic ‘man’ featured in the Flash games, Shifting World puts you in the role of a fedora wearing everyman who is invited by the Duke of Shadows to an old house. As ignoring the summons would make for a short game, our hero goes inside to find a parallel dimension filled with sixty rooms that can be .
SHIFT IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Unique Aesthetic - Everything in Shifting World is black and white. The game as a whole possesses a comic book feel to it, from the menus to the still panels that tell the game’s story. The protagonist, sharply dressed in his coat, tie and fedora, could have been plucked from a classic film. All this combine with the light jazz soundtrack to give the game a certain vibe to it. It's like a black and white comic book come to life in the 1950s.
Unique Gameplay - Shifting World’s main gameplay mechanic is the ability to flip the room over and shift the protagonist through the floor so that he’s still standing, which allows the player to reach previously unreachable areas. The colors also invert so that you can tell which way you were originally situated. The levels gradually ramp up in difficulty and new mechanics such as keys and blocks that disappear and reappear when triggered are introduced as you progress through the game’s 60 levels.
The Good Kind of Hard - While the goal of Shifting World is simple, actually making it to the exit is anything but. I found Shifting World enjoyable to play in short spurts, initially playing a few levels during each session and eventually just doing them one at a time because of the difficulty. While there were some frustrating moments, they weren’t enough to make me stop playing…at least not for long, anyway.
JUST PLAIN SHIFTY
Input Lag - I found myself dying on occasion because the game did not register a press of the jump button in time. While there is some margin of error, there were a few spots where I died more often than I should have because of this, which only served to make the game harder than it already is.
Nearly Useless Map - The touch screen displays a map that displays the current level layout as well as the location of the protagonist, the exit and keys. While that sounds useful, it is zoomed out to the point that it does not help very much. I very occasionally consulted it whenever I got disoriented but for the most part it went unused.
Shifting World is a breath of fresh air for players that want to challenge their gray matter without having to play yet another drop-the-pieces or match-3 puzzle game. It features easy to learn yet tricky to master gameplay presented with a unique aesthetic that suits its unique gameplay well. While the input lag can be aggravating at times and the mini-map isn’t as useful as it could be, there is enough here to keep players scratching their heads for about 8-10 hours, depending on how many of those they spend beating their heads against a wall in frustration before going back for more.
*This review was based on the 3DS version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*