It wasn’t too long ago that puzzle platformers were in no short supply, and it seemed like the genre was getting a bit stale. Too much of anything is a bad thing, and the genre seemed to disappear into the night. However, Klonk Games takes a shot at the now rarer genre in a quirky and fun title called Shift Happens.
Shift Happens puts you in the goop of two jelly creatures, Bismo and Plom, who because of a freak accident, can shift their sizes and abilities between one another. From the get-go there isn’t much in the way of story or characterization; it’s pretty straight forward really. You control the two differently colored blobs as you try to escape the lab that made them through four different environments: a sterile lab, a thick forest, a barren windy desert and a snow-covered wasteland. Each of these areas are varied and offer their own challenging puzzles.The puzzles in Shift Happens are relatively simple, but solid all the same. They mostly consist of physics puzzles involving moving objects and shifting the sizes of Bismo and Plom. The challenges range from simple things like moving a block to get a lift from it, all the way to throwing one of the blobs and switching masses in mid-air to hit a switch.
The challenge increases at a comfortable pace throughout each of the four areas with no real extreme hike in difficulty to be found. Alongside the puzzles themselves are traps and environmental challenges like wind, water, and ice. These slight-but-noticeable added changes definitely helps the game out and makes each environment feel unique.
There isn’t really a story to tell, and as a result you really don’t care for the two morphing blobs and the consistent dangers you put them in like drowning or being crushed. It’s clearly not the point of this game to understand man’s inhumanity to man or find out if objective reality really exists, but I could go for caring even a little bit about who I’m going to spend my time with.
Speaking of time, Shift Happens isn’t too long of a game and you could probably knock it out in one session if you so choose, especially if you aren’t playing alone. The game supports both local and online co-op which makes Shift Happens both a little more enjoyable and a little bit easier.
The single player aspect to the game is just as good though it does require some more effort on your part. Controls are respectable though they can be a little challenging at first as you have to get used to switching characters and the sensitivity of the button presses. Overall it is a very enjoyable and straight forward gameplay experience. Also, if you are a collector like me, the game does contain collectibles to find in every level which adds a nice bit of depth.
Visually, Shift Happens isn’t too special, but not in a bad way. It’s made in the Unity Engine and has a very cartoonish look as one would expect. It works well and is mostly enjoyable though clouds and the sun do look a little weird, like they were missing a lair of detail or something. The sound design is simple and straight forward. Everything sounds the way it should from the pitter patter of feet to the squishes of the blobs it all works. Music is nothing to write home about but it helps the scenarios and makes the experience just a bit more immersive. Whether it’s in a jungle forest or desert valley the music fits the locales. Overall the whole art side comes together well in Shift Happens, and while it certainly isn’t ground breaking or emotionally resonant it’s enjoyable and works well with the game.
Shift Happens is a fun and well-made ode to a simpler time in gaming where the player’s quickness on a stick was bit more important than their ability to answer moral quandaries. The gameplay is fun, simple and enjoyable with no technical issues to mention, the art side is formfitting and adds more than it takes away, and for $15 dollars you really can’t beat it. So, if you’re on the lookout for a fun puzzle platformer to relieve the stress of the day, consider morphing into Shift Happens along with your favorite gaming chair.