Feb 8, 2011
[Update 2/25: Handmark has since updated Shift to include a better control scheme. I've also been told app-to-SD support is coming. Thanks Handmark!]
Shift is a unique puzzle platformer originally developed for the desktop and now available on Android courtesy of mobile media company Handmark. In this minimalistic game-noir you find yourself being greeted as Subject 12378 (although the market game description and original use Subject 32763). You’ve found yourself the subject of a twisted experiment and are trying to find your way out. Using the games on-screen controls you must try to run, jump and “shift” your way towards the door while avoiding spiked death traps.
There are over 40 unique levels featuring various platforms, keys, death spikes, escape routes and killer 50′s spy music. Unlike normal puzzle platformers, Shift literally incorporates a perspective shift. To reach certain areas and exits you will need to master the art of “Shifting” which involves shifting your virtual world upside down via the on-screen “Shift” buttons. Transfer between the black and white areas of the game while shifting your subjects color along with gravity and perspective. The shift concept adds an intriguing and unique twist to an otherwise basic puzzle platformer.
While the game was interesting and fun, the controls were just plain interesting (and not in a good way). I found the game controls quite frustrating which is perplexing considering their simplicity. There is an arrow to move right, an arrow to move left, and then above each arrow there are diagonal facing arrows for jumping. Sounds simple enough, right? Well – half the time you will find yourself failing to jump, not jumping fully, hitting the wrong arrow or simply no action at all. Thankfully you have unlimited lives to practice with until you get the hang of the controls.
Gameplay was fun and challenging but I have a difficult time deciding how to rate it. On one hand, I couldn’t put Shift down and played it until I reached the end. On the other hand, I finished the entire game in 35 minutes. Sort of a “wham, bam, thank you mam” game that left me feeling semi-fulfilled. Once finished, the only reason to pick Shift up again is in an attempt to beat your previous finish time. Plus, after you get the hang of the controls and gameplay, getting through levels becomes quite easy. Shift needs to add more levels with a higher degree of complexity to keep players, err, playing.
Shift really resembles a one night stand: Intriguing, mysterious, fast, exciting, and over before you know it. Shift is available in the Android Market in both a “Paid” and “Lite” version. The “Lite” version is free, ad-supported and features only 15 levels but is a great way to check the game out. I also scrounged around and found the original desktop web version for anyone interested in playing it on their computer (much better controls).
Shift is worth a look and I’m glad I tried it out (even if it was short lived).
Play desktop version: Shift on the web