Playing a portable mind-warping puzzle platformer is a great way to pass the time. Shift DX is bursting with loads of satisfying puzzles but are you a worthy test subject? Get ready to turn your world upside-down and find out.
Shift DX puts you in the unwilling shoes of a female test subject who must pass seemingly countless stages in the hopes of reclaiming her freedom. The gameplay is similar to a basic 2D platformer where you run and jump but things get tricky when you incorporate the puzzle mechanics. For starters, you can flip the stage upside-down and change your polarity in the process. When you're white, you can freely walk through black backgrounds and vice versa. Shifting polarity like this basically flips you with the floor at your feet acting as the mirror. In other words, if you want to enter the area underneath you then you can do so by shifting. Getting a knack for how to navigate through stages effectively is a rewarding journey. When you factor in hazardous spikes, symbols that rotate gravity in any of four directions, keys and their respective locks, and removable blockades; things get very tricky but it all results in a reality-bending yet ultimately satisfying challenge.
By looking at the screenshots, you can tell that Shift DX is one clean-looking game. Although this doesn't make for the most impressive graphics, their unambiguous nature makes gameplay feel intuitive and easy to follow. When it comes to audio, the jazzy piano riffs and trippy beats provide a sense of levity to the dire situation that our heroine has been placed in. The tunes will also make you tap your toe as you work your way through stage after stage. It's great to see an indie portable puzzler have such a cool soundtrack.
Along with a campaign that seems to go on forever, there's also a level editor. It's extremely easy to use and even making a complicated stage doesn't take much effort. Of course, you have to make sure that players can beat it and that's actually the toughest part. When you're done with your creation, you can generate a QR code that you can use to share your stage. This is neat but it would have been much better to be able to upload and download stages in-game. Speaking of online features, it's disappointing that there are no leaderboards as that functionality would have added tons of replay value for competitive puzzle solvers.
Besides the lengthy campaign of stages and level editor, Shift DX doesn't have any other modes. You'll unlock different colour schemes as you play through the campaign but that's about it. I would have loved to see the developers play with the imaginative gameplay premise to craft some interesting mini-games or multiplayer modes but none of these features are present. There are also no collectibles which I find to be a big missed opportunity. Having optional hard-to-reach goodies is a perfect fit for the gameplay. You can enter Challenge mode to try and beat the campaign's stages in as few shifts and jumps as possible but without online rankings, this mode feels like a waste of time. All of that being said, there are so many stages to work through that the campaign should be enough to keep any puzzle fanatic busy. In the end, I just wish that there was more variety and different modes to enjoy.
Shift DX is a portable puzzler that fans of the genre shouldn't pass up on. It may be lacking in some aspects yet the addictive reality-altering gameplay will keep you hooked until you complete its massive campaign and the level editor is great for creative types.
- + Mind-bending gameplay mechanics that provide a satisfying challenge
- + Clean unambiguous visuals and great music
- + Editor makes creating stages easy and fun
- - Lack of features such as leaderboards and online level sharing
- - Could use additional modes
- - No collectibles hinders replay value