Shiftlings (XBox One)

April 3, 2015 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

If you’ve ever wanted to solve puzzles with bodily functions, Shiftlings is now here to heed that call. The game follows two space janitors, tethered by an air hose that keeps them like peas in a pod. While the two can get some minor distance between them, the tether proves to be a burden that limits mobility at all times. The hose also functions as a bridge between the air systems of the space suits. Thanks to some space cola, there is some gas in the suits and when passed from one suit to the other, that gas inflates one suit and deflates the other. This proves to be the main mechanic in Shiftlings, as you coordinate the passing of gas to navigate all kinds of puzzles. This sounds simple, but the game quickly introduces a wide scope of obstacles that will test both your brain and reflexes. And keep in mind, as you try to conquer these puzzles and platforming challenges, that tether is always there to slow you down and make traversal just a little tougher. Shiftlings might have a easy to pick up mechanic, but you will need to master it and then some if you want to defeat all the levels here. You can play through the game by yourself, controlling both janitors yourself and that experience is decent. Once the game starts to crank up the difficulty though, it can become a frustrating challenge at times to manage both partners.

That leads up to the coop experience, which is where Shiftlings really shines. As you’d expect, each player controls one janitor and that makes the entire game so much more fun. But make sure your relationship with your coop partner is strong, because this game will put it to the test. Shiftlings can be a stern challenge at times and you’ll need to communicate and craft strategies, especially to perfect the levels. This is why local coop seems like a better option, as online coop can lead to people you don’t know or don’t make use of mics. But Shiftlings is a fair taskmaster and features generous checkpoints, so even if you’re flying blind you won’t often feel overly frustrated. If you have the option of coop, that is definitely the optimal way to experience Shiftlings, if only for the trash talk when your partner goofs up. Shiftlings is a rock solid puzzle platformer, though it loses some luster if you have to play on your own. But even so, it offers a lot of fun and challenge, warts and all. So if you’re a fan of puzzle platformers or wild coop games, make sure to give Shiftlings a look.

Video: How’s it look?

The game features a bright, colorful and cartoon inspired visual design. The levels are jam packed with activity, which gives you a lot to take in, but does come off as overly busy at times. Even so, I love how active the levels feel and the attention to detail is quite impressive. The graphics might have a cartoon look, but the visuals are refined and quite creative. You might not always be able to check out all the little touches, but Shiftlings is a great looking game.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The sound design is in the same vein as the other elements, cartoon inspired and brisk. The music is light and the sound effects have the kind of zany punch you’d expect. This kind of blunt sound design might not seem inspired, but the audio is quite creative at times. So it might not have the depth of some other games’ soundtracks, but Shiftlings sounds very good and that’s enough in this case.

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