Things seem a little shifty.
Shiftlings is the latest title from Activision’s resurgence of publisher Sierra. Starting out as a mobile game, developer RockPocket Games has now delivered this buddy co-op puzzle title to consoles and PC. Deriving from a mobile premise is not always a death sentence for console/PC games, but it does bring skepticism with it. Shiftlings has a unique idea that sadly overstays its welcome, and grows far too tedious long before the final mission is complete.
The idea behind Shiftlings is what stands out. This is a puzzle-platform game where two characters are charged with getting through a level using the mechanics involved. Those include both characters being tethered to each other with a hose, and being able to inflate/deflate each other at the touch of a button. Of course the bigger of the two cannot jump as high, but has more weight to them.
Platforms: PC, PS4, XB1
Price I’d Pay: $4.99
At first this combination has some novelty to it. Discovering which character to use to get to the end of the level is clever. The problem lies in the fact that it never really changes up enough to keep it interesting. With 50 levels it becomes tedious. Collection aspects are included, but again feel very generic. The one trick this pony relies on wears out its welcome quickly.
Playing co-op helps, in fact playing co-op keeps things from becoming convoluted early on. The control scheme is weird when playing solo, and it took over an hour to click with me. Tapping a button to switch characters, and also a button to switch inflation got confusing. Combine that with the fact that holding down the left bumper to move both characters at the same time just becomes overwhelming. Thankfully none of the puzzles are time-restricted, but it is still frustrating to miss a jump or move the wrong character forcing a complete refresh on solving the puzzle.
Playing with a friend is much better, if not hectic. That is part of the fun though. Coordinating moves much like Chariot, to solve the puzzles is the way this game is meant to be played.
Humor is also on the menu for Shiftlings. The cut scenes in the game remind me of the same style used by Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank series, without the sharp wit. They do a decent job of progressing the puzzles, but the jokes wear out fast. I did like their style though, and I certainly never felt the need to skip past them.
Shiftlings is a decent puzzler that relies too heavily on having a second player, and not getting tired of the simple mechanic. If the price was a bit lower it would be easier to recommend, but at $14.99 it doesn’t really strike me as a must have with all the great content already overflowing these services. Those looking for a solid co-op puzzle game might check it out if they already siphoned everything out of Chariot, but solo players need not even apply.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.