Having just finished my review of Mr. Shifty for the Switch several days ago, it felt important to take a swing at the PC version, especially given the number of negative reviews for the console port that have come up since launch. It’s the craziest situation: I enjoyed playing the Switch version, immensely so, and didn’t think there was a single problem with it. But now that I’ve read the reviews and played the PC version, I’m struck with Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, and the shortcomings are strangely apparent in comparison.
At the core, Mr. Shifty looks and feels like the exact same game across the two platforms, which is certainly a good thing. My PC isn’t spectacular, and, for a well-optimized indie game, there shouldn’t need to be any kind of bizarre separation between the two environments. I will say that the button layout felt more natural and responsive with the Switch’s mapping vs the default that an XBox 360 controller will give you. Even though, technically, there shouldn’t be a single difference, there was still a feeling with the controller, initially, of “something is off.” This faded as I got into the game, and I realized that the human mind will create an expectation of feedback based on previous experience. That is, my brain told me it felt wrong literally because it was a different controller with the same game. Not really a problem, but something that you might keep in mind if you’re a double dipper and keep bouncing between game platforms.
Everything that I didn’t care for in the Switch version – the inconsistent level difficulty, the campy dialogue, the forgettable soundtrack – certainly held true on the Steam release. But the smoothness of the combat was suddenly lit up with stark clarity when I toggled between the two games. It’s true: a massive number of enemies on screen starts to lag things out, and creates a break in the flow of the combat and survival. Even in the first chapter, when you have to stay alive while Nyx hacks the elevator, I suddenly noticed that I was much more apt to trigger the “slow down” mechanic because I actually could move and connect with enough combatants to fill up my gauge. On the Switch, I didn’t even realize it was possible to do that until Nyx explains it somewhere around Stage 3.
But what you gain in performance for the PC version you certainly lose some particular novelty and helpful items that come with playing on the Switch. For one, exiting and pausing the game is certainly much easier on the Switch that on the common computer. Saying I wish to exit on the PC version just kicked me back to the beginning of the stage, and then I would have to go back several more times before I could finally quit without needing to throw on the kill switch manually. With the Switch, homing out of the software is seriously the push of a button. In the same vein, it’s a lot easier to put down Mr. Shifty on the Switch and walk away when you’re especially frustrated at a single level. With the PC, due to the configuration of auto-save, you have to grin and bear it at the risk of losing multiple levels. Of course, if you quit out of the game on the Switch, it’s not that forgiving: you’ll also be starting at the beginning of the stage. And a dedicated PC enthusiast probably has a separate computer for gaming, so the solution is the same. However, for a more casual player, it’s important to note this distinction.
I’m not going to trash and backpedal on my review of the Switch version, because I enjoyed the hell out of it and still do. Also, Tinybuild’s CEO has personally said he will be overseeing the patching of Mr. Shifty on the console after Team Shifty had a rather embarrassing public decree of “just buy it on Steam.” However, their words do ring true for people looking for the most optimum gaming situation now: if you don’t have a Switch, this won’t make you want to get one.
If you have both, I would really lean towards the Steam version, especially with the achievements and trading cards. If you’re a patient and dedicated Nintendo fan, you will probably get it on the Switch anyways, so this review won’t sway you. But, if you’re looking for the best Shift, your money should end up on the PC.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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