I have played literally hundreds of platformers in my lifetime. Many, many platformers are very similar — because of this, it is rare that a platformer sticks out in my mind as being a game worth playing over and over again. #ShiftHappens by #KlonkGames, however, have brought joy and fun, for me, back into the platformer genre!
Shift Happens is best played with a friend, but can be played alone. I have really enjoyed playing it co-operatively with Lewis, my partner. When I first played this game at an event, Lewis was there to play with me, and we got a kick out of the way you have to play together.
In this game, one of the players must be big and the other must be small. If you want to switch to the bigger bodied character from the smaller character, you switching will also change whichever character the other player is. You will both stay in the same spots you were in prior to the switch, but naturally both of your sizes will change.
This simple mechanic makes for some super funny moments in the game. If your friend is in the middle of something only the larger character can do, it can sometimes be dangerous. If performing an action such as holding a huge block, and your friend then switches themselves into the larger character, the player holding the block will be squished in a satisfying pile of goo.
You can then steal their golden points they have gathered, and they now rely on you to be respawned. There are plenty of hilarious opportunities to squish, drown, electrocute, or throw your friend into oblivion and prevent them from accomplishing whatever they are meant to be doing in the game.
At the end of each level, the points are counted up and the player with the most dances and is declared the better player It is a small animation, but oddly gratifying when you spent the whole game stealing the ones your friend has gathered.
Shift Happens still forces you to work together to solve puzzles in the game. You may need to be thrown or need your friend to pull a lever to help you go farther into the game. Sometimes you even have to stand on the same spots together or push blocks in unison to move on.
Many interesting combinations, and often time sensitive ones that require teamwork, are found in this challenging platformer. Sometimes you will have to rely on your partner's timing or on their knowledge of how to do something to survive. If you partner doesn’t understand what's going on or isn’t the best at timing, even with good intentions, you may end up dead.
Because both of you are needed at the end of the current level to move on to the next, you will have to make peace with each other despite any possible grievances, and work together. Mixing challenging teamwork with the ability to screw over your friends makes for some really great gameplay.
Sometimes you will to squash your friend by mistake, which is simply a time of laughter. Additionally, there are a myriad of mechanics, levels, and bonus stages to unlock and master. Communication is an absolute must and working together has to be done from time to time, regardless of your grudges against each other.
Some of these bonus levels have you working together quickly, against both a clock and impending doom, trying to solve intensely challenging puzzles that rely on both players actually having serious skill (or being quick to learn and take direction). These bonus stages are optional, but can really bring some high tempo, unifying gameplay for you both, before you go back to murdering your friend by your method of choice in the main level.
Shift Happens is easily the most fun I have had in a platformer in a long time, allowing me to both kill and work together with my friend through colorful amorphous blob characters!