Shift to the world (Shifting World review)


In 2008, a fresh and different flash game relating online to the puzzle/platform genre of gaming, this game was simply called ‘Shift’. The simplistic look to the level design really brought things back to the easy on the eye, black and white concept of level creation as levels were easily created from black and white blocks. Now what made this game stand out from other similar titles in the genre was the ability to reverse the levels (white blocks would turn black and visa versa) with a simple press of the shift key, hence its revealing title. This premise was clear from when the player first get told to press shift to the inevitable end of the game and because of this clarity multiple sequels and port had been created after. Shifting World is the series’ début from ‘Rising Star Games’ onto the Nintendo 3DS; it adds new elements of gameplay to bring it forward from the former titles, sadly the execution of some of these new elements doesn’t work as well as (hopefully) Rising Star had intended.

The game’s plot and story feels deliberately passive as, often or not, it has very little development. This is good as it lets the game’s puzzles and gameplay to speak for themselves, however, this would make sense if the puzzle elements were better than they are. Some gameplay elements, I feel, shouldn’t have changed from Shirt; for example: in Shift you could see the whole level in front of you so you could tell where you were heading and where you’d need to go, but in Shifting World the camera is mainly focused on the character with the employment of a “mini-map” on the 3DS’ lower screen – this map is incredibly and badly set out and sometimes has made it more confusing to work out where I need to go and is obscured because of the size of the exit and keys. The smaller levels in the original games made the game much more sense as it was designed to test the players reflex with completing quick challenges.

Dying in the game is very easy, which is understandable as if you land in a pit of spikes, you’re very unlikely to survive…unless you’ve got ‘another guy’. This easy of death was fine in the simpler single screen levels on the PC, but in the 3DS version this becomes frustrating as you die and go back to the start of the level (which is the usual) because of spikes you can’t see on the map due to the vagueness of where you actually are in relation to the map. The few things that the game does right are the capability of using either trigger on the 3DS to ‘shift’ in the game, the soundtrack has kept itself nice and easy paced through the games and the art style is still easy on the eye and simple to look at. Although the tendency for the input to lag is often off putting for playing it long durations. (Which for some people, like me, playing for shorts amount of time can make the game less irritating).

There are parts of the gameplay that somehow cloud over the actual enjoyment of solving puzzles, such as the random moments where absent character pop into screen to say small lines of dialogue, this pauses the game while you frantically tap the skip button so you can continue to solve the puzzle you had just started/were in the middle of before they interrupted. The game claims to have three gameplay modes, but that’s pretty misleading. The main mode is the string of 60 levels that make up the game, and Adventure mode just allows you to replay levels you’ve beaten. Time Attack mode also allows you to replay levels you’ve beaten, but with a timer. So really this game feels like a one shot deal. 

Despite all of this, the reason I bought it and still have it and sometimes still play it, (no I haven’t finished it but I still make attempts), is because, honestly, I really enjoy the concept and is genuinely great and inspiring idea. Expanding upon the gameplay of the Shift series by introducing new objects, larger levels and the ability to shift in three-dimensional space as well as two were all great ideas. Unfortunately, I personally feel like the game is unfinished. I’d be happier if the retail release was an online only beta test version that you could find on Steam Greenlight. This game has so much potential to be better than what it is, but if you play it let me know by messaging me or commenting on this, however, if you pass on it…it’s okay, you’re not missing much.

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