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Shift 2


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Upside your head

Product: Shift 2 | Developer: Fishing Cactus | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | File size: 7MB | Version: Europe
 
Shift 2 iPhone, thumbnail 1
Have puzzle games become more imaginative in the past few years, or am I just imagining it?

Back in the '90s, pretty much every puzzler involved matching up falling blocks, matching up non-falling blocks, or moving blocks so that blocks don’t block your block.

Now it seems a breakaway group of ambitious puzzlers have decided to take up night courses in physics at the local university. The 21st century puzzler has a first class degree in controlling time and space, and likes to turn worlds upside down in its spare time for a laugh.

Which brings us neatly to this year’s graduate, Shift 2, younger brother of Flash mega-hit Shift, and certifiably insane addition to the neo-puzzle genre.

Turning heads

You play an experimental test subject who must escape a series of tricky monochrome screens filled with obstacles, including everyone’s favourite - spiky pits of death.

The controls consist of just two arrows and an ominous ‘shift’ button, with jumping handled by holding down both arrow keys at once.

Shifting is essentially the act of flipping the vertical plane and the colour scheme of the world around, completely altering the layout of the level in the process.

For instance, an impassable tall white structure, once shifted, becomes a deep black pit that you can jump over.

Combine this with the entrance of arrows that, when touched, flip the world by only 90 degrees at a time (rather than 180 plus colour) and you have one heck of a tricky little game.

Jump up to get down

The level design takes full advantage of these weapons of mass confusion, throwing up tricky combinations that, while never impossible, will have you looking before you leap.

The presentation is stark and cold, but oddly attractive - its simplicity and smooth animations elevated by the presence of a sardonic GLADOS-esque narrator that mocks, cajoles, insults, and lies to you the whole way through the game.

The sound, too, is excellent, consisting of an electronica soundtrack that fizzles and pops, suiting the emotionally-detached atmosphere to a tee.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the player’s state of mind during play, which will vary between feeling smug at solving a puzzle to furious at the awkward jumping controls that never entirely feel natural (and are often downright destructive).

Despite this hiccup, Shift 2’s original and puzzling take is one students of contemporary puzzlers will be keen to probe.
 
Shift 2
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 9 February 2011
Shift 2 is an unusual and unique platform-puzzler packed with clever levels that will turn your mind upside-down
 
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