Rising Star Games has been bringing niche games across to Europe for many years now, helping introduce European gamers to concepts that possibly would not have been released via other traditional sources. Following the amazing visual novel, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, Cubed3 now takes a look at Shifting World, an intriguing puzzle platform title that started off as a Flash-based project more than four years ago.
It all begins one day when a strange letter turns up from someone calling themselves 'Duke of Shadows' inviting the lead of Shifting World to a seemingly abandoned house that opens up to a parallel dimension. An odd premise, but one that gets straight to the point and places the focus mainly on the intriguing gameplay where the floor could be the roof or vice versa, and the aim is to shift the world from black to white and back again at the correct moment in order to escape.
Shifting World is one of those platform games with a twist, rather like Chronos Twins DX or the recently released Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, and a major one that teases the brain considerably throughout. Come across a black structure that cannot be jumped over? Try switching the world around and suddenly it inverts and becomes a white canyon to leap down into. Although progression is relatively smooth most of the time, there are a few obstacles faced to make matters more interesting, such as special blocks preventing access to the end of level door that require keys to remove them or switches to make blocks appear/disappear as required. The game then starts to take on a Rooms: The Main Building vibe, having to hunt down items as well as figuring out how to reach the goal in each level. This is where the map on the lower screen comes in extremely handy, showing a zoomed-out viewpoint of the entire current location.
Based on Antony Lavelle's creation, published originally by Armor Games as a web Flash-based web game in 2008, the name Shift actually comes from how pressing 'shift' on a regular PC keyboard would flip the world upside down and the white half would turn black. It was a simple concept but one that worked wonderfully well and was been met with so much critical acclaim that iOS and PlayStation Network ports subsequently arrived. A Belgian team, Fishing Cactus, teamed up with Lavelle to bring out the PSN edition and also worked on this new 3DS edition. Rather than simply put a compilation of older games onto the 3DS, thankfully more thought has been placed into this product, with this being the first to take advantage of 3D properly, being able to switch from the 2D and 3D realm with ease in order to unlock even more routes through levels. Additionally, on top of the 60 levels spread across Adventure, Bonus, and Time Attack modes, there is a level editor and level generator that creates levels based on photos of DataMatrix barcodes taken with the external 3DS cameras, and the art style has been given the once over to make it more visually appealing than before.
This is no mere throwaway either, since the aforementioned modes are based around seven locations, broken down into smaller stages, and the difficulty level quickly rises, introducing new facets, all of which are boasted about by the increasingly obnoxious Duke who cannot help but throw in comments on a regular basis. After finishing a stage in Adventure, taking as much time as desired, Time Attack stages open where players must race to the finish line. These can be particularly frustrating, unfortunately, due to the tiny lag in the jump command, meaning more often than not running and jumping results in simply charging off a ledge, normally onto something like spikes that means a stage must be started from scratch. When going through at a leisurely pace there is no problem, but when rushing it really stands out as a major bugbear. Thankfully the main part of the game is not hampered by the jumping issue and, thus, prevents it from dragging down what is otherwise a fantastic experience.
The manner in which the puzzles are laid out is extremely inventive and takes the whole world switching gameplay idea to a new level.
There is only so much that can be done with basic black and white visuals, but the level structure is clear and the 3D depth is definitely put to fantastic use throughout.
Rather simplistic, and yet quite apt in terms of the rudimentary nature of the presentation values overall, but stylish nonetheless.
Shifting World is packed full of content, offering not only a wide range of cleverly designed stages, but throwing plenty of difficulty at the player very early on, finally topping things off with extra modes.
Shifting World takes the whole world switching mechanic and breathes fresh air into it, presenting players with some amazing brain-teasing stages. Smart level design, a stylish art style, and plenty of different modes to work through make this puzzle platform title one of the best 'under the radar' Nintendo 3DS games of 2012.
I got this super cheap at MCM Expo last year, only to hear that it wasn't that great (I thought the demo was neat though..)
But, C3's review has convinced me to give it another chance Now if only I had more free time-
This one is definitely on my radar, and I'll be sure to pick it up over the summer. Too many games to play right now!
This one also sounds pretty intriguing! Will check it out on my eShop list.