Hotline Miami successor?

    The first thing that crossed my mind through the first few levels of Mr. Shifty is how familiar the combat feels to the hit game, Hotline Miami.  Hotline Miami was an instant hit when it released back in 2012, redefining overhead shooters/brawlers.

    Hotline Miami, released in 2012.

    While Hotline Miami 2 wasn’t as much as success as the original, not many other developers have tried to recreate that same magical gameplay that was found in the series.  This is where Team Shifty shifted onto the scene, looking to capture that gameplay and trying to improve upon it.

    If you enjoyed the Hotline Miami series then Team Shifty has a real treat for fans or newcomers alike.

    You’re a thief, no other explanation.

    Mr. Shifty’s story is a simple one: You’re a thief with teleportation abilities that was hired to break into a secured tower to steal a plutonium core.  That’s about all you are given, no reason why or what for.  The story does develop a little more, introducing the boss who owns the tower and you’re ongoing conflict against him throughout the game.

    As far as dialogue between the characters in this game, it’s simplistic at most and doesn’t really enhance the story.  The game does drag on for longer than it should, with an important event in the middle that would have been perfect to tie up the game.  Mr. Shifty isn’t necessarily a game about it’s story though because let’s be honest, Mr. Shifty has really great gameplay.

    Gameplay is key, to games like this.

    Gameplay is where Mr. Shifty really shines, it takes the formula that I loved from Hotline Miami and really improved upon it as well as refined it.  The formula at it’s core, is still the same formula from Hotline Miami.  You enter into a room filled with enemies, meanwhile figuring out how to kill them while avoiding instant death (one shot = death).  Your methods of destruction are punching, picking up weapons from the environment or even using your enemies to eliminate other enemies.  The choice on how you would like to approach the situation is completely up to you, and trust me I kept retrying stages to try different methods to improve upon my time.

    Mr. Shifty does switch up the Hotline Miami formula by introducing a teleportation feature into the movement of the game.  You essentially get five “shifts” that allow you to jump through walls, enemies, or environmental pieces.  These shifts will recharge, but don’t get yourself stuck in the middle of a bunch of guards on your last shift or you will most likely end up dead.  Along with the teleportation feature, a slow-down meter is also introduced.  To fill your slow-down meter, you must defeat enemies in a rapid fashion or it will deplete itself.  Once the meter is full, and you accidentally get too close to a bullet, time will stop to allow you to move from the bullet as well as cause some extra damage to enemies if you would like.

    Those features that set Mr. Shifty apart, allows the player to be a bit more reckless compared to the Hotline Miami series when tackling situations.

    Complaints are few and far to be seen.

    The only minor concern that I had with Mr. Shifty with my time with the game, is that it did drag on just a few stages too many.  As the player approached the end, it stopped trying to invent new ways for the player to tackle enemies and just focused on bombarding the player with enemies to defeat which in the long run became a chore because of the amount of enemies thrown at the player at a single time.

    If we are comparing this game to Hotline Miami, the soundtrack isn’t too great compared to it.  Mr. Shifty has the same song throughout the entire game, the ENTIRE game.  Meanwhile, Hotline Miami had tracks throughout the whole game that often kept me coming back just to listen.

    Once you beat Mr. Shifty, the only reason to go back and play a stage is to improve upon your time.  There are no collectables to try and unlock while improving your score like Hotline Miami did, so the replay value is somewhat lower when comparing it to Hotline Miami.

    Overall, Mr. Shifty Has Became A Favorite Of Mine

    Mr. Shifty took the gameplay formula of Hotline Miami and improved upon it in many ways, that kept me wanting to replay levels to improve my time.  The story is nothing that really added to the game when it comes to the game as well as the soundtrack, but it didn’t affect the amount of fun I had with this game.  Team Shifty has a hit on their hands, and I look forward to seeing what comes next in the Mr. Shifty series.

    Mr. Shifty (PC, Mac, Switch [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)
    Developer: Team Shifty
    Publisher: tinyBuild Games
    Released: April 13, 2017 (PC, Switch), TBA (Mac, PS4, Xbox One)
    MSRP: $14.99

    Review by: Spencer “StormZtrooper” Breland