SHIFT Extended Review

By Nelson on February 1, 2011

Shift is an interesting puzzle/platformer flash game, which was originally developed by Armor Games. It was then adapted to the iPhone in 2009 by Fishing Cactus, and now Zallag has re-published the game as 'Shift Extended', a PlayStation Mini title, with the assistance of Fishing Cactus. The game sports a lot more content than its original counterpart and has some innovative functionality that certainly makes it unique from other puzzle games. But does its transition to PlayStation make it more tempting?

The game gets straight to the point, there is little to no story, but it's not really all that necessary anyway and in some ways it's good that players can begin the game straight away. The concept is simple, the player is a test subject and has been tasked with navigating their way through a series of puzzles which are based around a unique physic known as inversion. If they manage to get to the door at the end, they complete a level. However, if they don't, they will die like so many other test subjects before them.

Players will find that the controls are fairly simple. Pressing the X button allows you to jump, with the d-pad used for traditional movement. The triggers, however, are what get assigned to performing an inversion. The test subject is a white or black humanoid figure, depending on which way they are inverted. When they are white, they may move inside the black areas on screen and vice versa. However, they can only invert into an area below the one they are standing on, so some thought needs to be used in order to progress through a stage.

To make thing a little bit more tricky, there are 3 different collectables which are added to the mix as the game progresses. The first allows gates to move position, allowing you to access restricted space. The second removes impenetrable areas where the player cannot invert or pass through, areas which appear in-game as having a chequered tonality. The third causes certain spots on the level to invert from white to black and vice versa. The game also adds pitfalls in the forms of spikes and the ability to be crushed by areas of the stage which are moving - it's really quite mean if you think about it.

The idea and concept is great and its compelling to play through each stage. This is mainly because as they game progresses, it still feels unique despite there being over a 100 stages to play through. There is however one downside, and that is simply the game just doesn't feel challenging enough. The majority of the puzzles, if not all, can be solved in a single glance; it's often feels like navigating a maze with very obvious dead ends. Each level is also very one-dimensional, as at the start, generally only one item can be reached. Then by collecting that item, another becomes available and there is only one way each level can be completed. The puzzle aspect becomes somewhat constrained by its linearity in solutions.

In many ways, the only challenging aspect becomes with the platforming side. As timing jumps correctly can sometimes be quite fun in comparison. Unfortunately, there are only a few stages where this actually occurs.

That aside, the gameplay is addictive enough to warrant playing through all the stages. The level design, while basic, is charming, although the music will become stale after a while - it's only a single track which gets played throughout all of the different stages. There is a high score system, and level scoring is based on the time to complete each stage, so it might be worth going back if you have a hankering for some high-score setting.

Final Thoughts

As far as PlayStation Mini titles go the game is quirky and innovative. It's fun to play, but it's just a shame there isn't more challenge to the game itself. Perhaps if there were some kind of time constraint put in place when playing through levels, it would have made things a bit better. Even without, the game can be finished in less than 2 hours.

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