You are nameless. You are black or white. You are playing a port of a port. Those statements are all accurate if you check out Shift Extended, a Mini available now on the PlayStation Network. This little bundle of familiarity started its life as a flash game, and was later released on smartphones with some extra content. Its extended release on the PSN is a clever black and white puzzler, which boasts a catchy jazz soundtrack and a mind bending concept.
Shift Extended is all about the puzzles. You can blow through the entire game in about an hour, but it’s an enjoyable hour, and worth a second play. Players take on the role of a test subject tasked with ploughing through various levels, with the key feature being the ability to switch instantaneously between black and white. When you make this transition between the two colors, the entire screen flips. Shifting to black allows you to move on the black surfaces, while hopping over to white allows you to move on white surfaces. It’s an incredibly simple concept that offers a fresh take on the platformer/puzzler genre.
Still, as straight-forward as the concept is, there are a few tricks dotted around to keep the game fresh throughout the whopping 120 stages on offer. Control, meanwhile, is a piece of cake. You move your character around with the directional pad, jump with X, and shift with L1 or R1. As the puzzles become more complex, you’ll have to pay attention to your character’s position on the screen. If, for instance, you end up on the very bottom of the screen, you won’t be able to shift to the opposite color. You’ll find keys to unlock sections of the level, and collectibles to reveal blocked areas. The whole shift in perspective can get nauseating, in a brain-turning good way (if there’s such a thing). It’s pretty entertaining and since the game is so short, it never becomes stale.
We can’t emphasize enough that this is a bare bones experience. But, in its simplicity we find enjoyment. The game starts in true puzzle form, but gradually draws in more platforming-based elements with elevators and spikes. The visuals are simplistic, but clean and sharp all the same. Meanwhile, the game’s music score offers some toe-tapping pleasures, though never really evolves much beyond a couple of tunes. As such, we found ourselves wanting a little more diversity in this department.
Sadly the game comes in at $3.99 USD. We could see paying half that, but there isn’t enough content here to warrant the asking price. No, it’s not a lot of money, but we feel it’s a tad overpriced nonetheless. Frustratingly, there also isn’t a clear way to discern how the game judges the matter of high scores. We can only imagine that the goal is to get through each level as fast as you can, but a meter or something would have helped a lot. Considering Shift started as a free flash game, the idea of an extended version on the PSN makes a lot of sense, but we would have liked a bit more bang for our buck.
-The Final Word-
Shift Extended is a quirky and addictive platform-puzzler, though sadly doesn't provide much more than an hour's worth of entertainment
|Platforms reviewed : PSN|