While Shift Happens can be played single player, it is meant to be played multiplayer. It is most comparable to Ibb and Obb and Co-op Portal 2. But please don’t take the mention of Portal 2 as some kind of endorsement – Shift Happens does not compare to the enjoyment delivered by Portal 2. I played it co-op with a friend. I think I appreciated it slightly more than my friend. One comparison my friend made was that the challenge levels were similar to Splosion Man at times. I know nothing about Splosion Man, but it seems to be an apt comparison based on some videos I’ve seen.
The gameplay is best described as a platformer, but it does have puzzle elements. You and your friend go around collecting coins while solving ‘puzzles’. The puzzles you solve usually consist of finding a way to get to a button or lever that enables you to move onto the next part of the level. One important part of the gameplay is that you can toggle which character is in large mode and which is in small mode. We dubbed small mode ‘Pepito’ and large mode ‘Papa’. The voices we created for them provided the humor we needed to get through the game.
My friend was telling me it felt like we were still in tutorial mode - when we were halfway through the game! And thats the problem. Most of the puzzles are simplistic and quite repetitive. There were 2-3 puzzles that actually felt somewhat challenging, but that is simply not enough. Anyone with any level of experience playing puzzle games is going to be a bit dissapointed by the lack of difficulty in the puzzles.
Outside of the normal levels there are challenge levels. These are the most difficult and therefore the most fun. They also happen to be the best looking levels in the game. The challenge is that these levels are time limited and therefore you have penalties for mistakes.
I also have one minor issue with one tiny element of the game: the purple hearts. You accrue these hearts with the coins that you pick up along the way. The game never mentions what they are for. It turns out you only need the purple hearts when both you and your buddy die at the same time and no one is left to revive you. When such a case occurs, a purple heart is consumed and you can continue playing. If you run out, you must restart the level. On my playthrough, we only ran out of purple hearts once, but it just felt out of place and bolted on. Just let us continue where we are. The existance of these hearts and the restart-if-you-both-die mechanic means that you begin to synchronize every jump with your friend so that you are not at risk of losing these silly hearts - just in case you might need them someday.
The art is charming, “cute” to a degree. In a few places its a little difficult to determine exactly what parts are in the foreground and interactable. It starts off a bit flavorless and lackluster, but eventually you get to nice environments which are prettier to look at.
After a few levels, the game eventually begins showing the faceting rendering style where you can plainly see every polygon used to construct each object. This seems to be becoming a modern aesthetic in many indie games, first popularized by The Witness. Perhaps Klonk is even paying homage to The Witness here.
No real story. That’s fine.
Overall Score: 64/100
I had fun occasionally. Certainly play other games like Portal 2 and Ibb and Obb if you havn’t played those first. Maybe Splosion Man as well. If you like those, you might like Shift Happens.
Note: I made it through this entire review without adding any shifty puns.