If you're in the market for a practical puzzler that'll give your brain a workout then here's a game for you. Shift Quantum is the most ambitious title in the Shift series to date so prepare to traverse a complex virtual realm.
I've been a fan of the Shift series for quite some time and even reviewed the highly underrated Shift DX last year as well as created a few QR Code Levels for it. Shift Quantum takes the series to a whole new level with its flashy 3D visuals and swanky new gameplay mechanics. Thankfully, the addictive core gameplay remains intact. For the unfamiliar, you can basically shift by entering the floor that you're standing on which turns the stage upside-down and transforms the solid colour (either black or white) to a traversable one and vice-versa. It's your job to work your way to the exit door so carefully navigating through the stages while figuring out just how to do so is where the challenge comes in. Thankfully, the unambiguous yet appealing graphics and well-implemented audio (with both its immersive music and satisfying effects) make solving puzzles a joy.
Although this all sounds simple, Shift Quantum features plenty of additional gameplay mechanics that make each stage much more challenging. For starters, you perish whenever you touch spikes and some platforms are solid and can't be traversed no matter which colour you're shifted to. The first complexity that you'll come across is movable blocks that can be pushed and pulled. Doing so in order to navigate through otherwise unreachable paths adds a substantial complication to solving puzzles that fans of the genre will appreciate. Besides that, you'll come across wind blocks that blow you away, rotator blocks that turn the stage upside-down without shifting its colour, and digger blocks that can destroy other blocks. There are a few other mechanics that get introduced as you play but these are the most interesting as they'll definitely put your puzzle solving skills to the test.
Shift Quantum features two main modes: a stage-based campaign and community levels. The campaign is huge and features tons of levels; many of which contain a hard-to-reach collectible that offers a surprising amount of replay value. Speaking of replay value, the community levels add a ton. I found the editor to be kind of finicky as it's hard to tell whether certain blocks are white or black so I had to keep testing my levels just to make sure I was doing it right. That being said, it's clear that other gamers have a firm grasp of the level editor because I played every single user-created stage so far (just over a dozen) and some of them are pretty impressive.
Although Shift Quantum is an outstanding practical puzzle game, it does have its downsides. For starters, some of the new mechanics make it possible for you to get stuck. Whenever this happens, you have to pause the game and reset the stage or simply off yourself. It would have been cool if there was a rewind button for whenever you make a silly mistake. My only other complaint is that I wish there was more content besides just the campaign and user-generated levels. It's such a unique and enjoyable gameplay premise so if they altered the core gameplay a bit to make a multiplayer mode or some sort of challenge mode then that would have been awesome. As it is, you get a ton of fantastic puzzles and a whole community-driven aspect which is great but having a few extra modes that played with the established gameplay in unique ways would have made it feel like a far more complete experience.
Shift Quantum is one of the best practical puzzle games that I've ever played. If you're a fan of these kinds of noodle-scratching puzzlers then do yourself a favour and give it a try.
- + Great classic Shift gameplay with a handful of new and enjoyable mechanics
- + Fantastic visuals and spot-on sound
- + Community levels add tons of value
- - New mechanics allow you to get stuck which can be very annoying
- - Could use additional modes