For those of you who checked out our coverage of EGX Rezzed, you may recall how happy I was to have found Shift Quantum. Well now it’s time for the games release and we were lucky enough to get our hands on the full game for the story driven, puzzle experience which will keep your brain working throughout. Shift Quantum was released on PC, PS4, XBox One and Nintendo Switch on the 30th May and we got a chance to check out the Switch version in order to bring you coverage of the game in its final form.
Described as a cyber-noir action-puzzle platformer, Shift Quantum from Red Panda Interactive and Fishing Cactus offers a number of puzzles in which the subject must reach the exit by ‘shifting’ in the environment. This is done by essentially punching through the ground to shift to the other side, flipping the map and inverting the black areas to white (or visa versa) to reach the door. This can be done quickly or as the puzzles get trickier, these can take a couple of goes and a fair amount of switching to work your way through. While this is a puzzle platformer, there is an underlying story which follows you through this journey along what look to be the rooftops and inner workings of a busy metropolis. You are a test subject connected to the Axon Vertigo and completing these 117 levels will possibly lead you to discover happiness. As you travel through these tests, you encounter a young girl who you can’t get to but end up running alongside through the maze as she helps you complete some of the levels as you both find a path that allows you to reach the exit before she seemingly disappears.
When I first played the demo at EGX Rezzed, the game mechanic and art style were the first features to catch my eye. Your test subject is able to jump, push and pull as well as shift however these are your only methods of working through these tests. There will come a time where boxes can be utilised to create holes for you to fall through into another section that was previously unreachable or can be used as a step to help you jump to another section. You can even modify gravity or control wind machines if the test offers you that option but there may be traps to consider such as spikes which will end you pretty quickly should you mis-step. I like the challenge the puzzles present. While on occasion, you will possibly solve one quite quickly, you may find yourself scratching your head over one that look relatively straight forward. The main reason for the puzzles being a challenge is due to the collectibles that are available to you in each level. These are a cluster of shimmering triangles which are positioned in places that you can most certainly reach, it’s just a case of figuring out how to do it and reach the exit. I still have a couple of these clusters to collect just because my brain couldn’t process the puzzle in order for me to successfully obtain them but I will go back and get them.
My only small issue at times was when I made a mistake and there was no way to get back to a position where you could continue with the puzzle without having to reset. This was my only gripe with the game. I don’t mean genuine errors in my gameplay that meant I gave in and reset because I was going around in circles or I got spiked or crushed by a block but moment whereby I had flipped gravity and fallen down however there was no way to fix it. As I say, it’s only a small thing which in the grand scheme of things, it only made me more determined to reset and avoid the same thing happening again.
It’s not just the main campaign on offer, those puzzlers who are clever may also be able to create some brain melting puzzles to share with the community in the Editor. I gave it a go and thought I had made something utterly mind-bending… but then I realised you only had to make three moves and you would reach the exit. While I may not be good at creating levels, you have the opportunity to try out what the community come up with the added bonus that this is cross-platform so if your friends play on a different platform you can still try out their levels. The editor provides you with the tools to put your levels together offering all of the blocks, fans and spikes you need to be cruel or kind depending on what you fancy creating. You can also change the size of the level if you decide you need more or less room and you can undo too in case you decide you aren’t keen on what you’ve made. I think the Editor is a nice addition and offers another level of opportunities to replay. For those who want to get involved in game or level design, it also offers a platform for you to let your creativity run free.
The controls are simple and straight forward so when you get into the rhythm you will find yourself shifting, leaping and flipping gravity with ease while you enjoy the sights and sounds of the game. While the main focus is the puzzle you are in the middle, occasionally it’s worth taking a moment to take in the dystopian city background as you play as it really helps bring the story setting together. The soundtrack is a great accompaniment to the game play as it offers atmospheric, cyberpunk-esque audio which compliments the overall theme and feel. The composers worked in a very interesting way by creating tracks which contrast to the piece produced by the other composer so I would most definitely suggest making sure your volume is up or your headphones are in if you’re on the move. Shift Quantum was a great title to pick up and play for short bursts or for an extended period of time and I also enjoyed showing it off to friends. The Switch did seem to get hot… and I mean really hot while I was playing handheld and it did burn the battery life a little if I played for around an hour. There were no issues in the running of the game but this is something to keep in the back of your mind if you’re out and about for an extended period of time as you might want to have a charging cable handy and take breaks to let the console cool down a little. The game just requires a bit of processing power to for the console to keep up but this shouldn’t impact on your enjoyment.
Having had more time with the game, I can honestly say that I think it’s a great addition to your games library whether it’s on the Switch or another platform. Titles such as this lend themselves to the portable console but also are thoroughly enjoyable at home. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and offers hours of gameplay time as well as having the replay factor, not only with the Editor and Community levels but if you want to grab all of the collectibles or just try and do speed runs of the puzzles, then you can! Shift Quantum was one of the gems of EGX Rezzed and now it has been released, I still feel that this is a fantastic title that you should most certainly consider picking up and at £15.99, it’s a steal.