Welcome to Klonk Labs, the world’s leading research development center in cloning and mass conservation. Our test subjects, known as the blobs, are put through various environments to test the safety and accessibility of our brand-new holodecks. These beautiful landscapes are as immersive as ever and the next step in a virtual vacation. Beautiful Landscapes, Bizarre Worlds, One Blob, Two Blob, Red Blob, Blue Blob…Oh my god, Dr. Seuss is Back!
Shift Happens is a puzzle platformer that was developed by Klonk Games and published by Deck13 Interactive. It tells the story of two blobs, Plom and Bismo, which are bounded by physics to share masses with each other after an accident occurs. To resolve this issue, they must travel through the laboratories to find a missing part to fix the machine. This adventure spans throughout four different areas with completely different atmospheres. At one moment, you are in a laboratory, trying to dodge laser beams and spark traps, then the next minute you are going through a forest watching out for spike-ridden vines. This title switches up the environments on you through holodecks and it can be seen on the first level of the new stage when the background shifts between the previous level to the new one. This title can be played either in single-player, where you have to switch between Plom and Bismo on the fly to complete the puzzles, or in either local or online co-op. To keep the experience from getting stale, the co-op levels even include aspects that are different to the single-player experience. This idea of separate campaigns was an interesting way for the developers to implement things in the cooperative levels that were just not feasible to do in single player. The puzzles task players with shifting the weight between Plom and Bismo to knock down bridges, use trampolines, and squeeze into small spaces. The only goal of each level is to reach the end and take the elevator to the next stage; however, there are various side objectives to keep the levels interesting and test your patience to achieve a perfect run. Each stage contains seventy-five orbs that are scattered throughout the level and contains a secret area that must be found to collect all the orbs. Collecting all of them will net you with all three ‘stars’ for the level and the more orbs that you have, the more extra lives that are awarded. A fan of time trials? Well, this game has those too! Each level has a time trial that gives you another star on the level. These time trials do not unlock until after completing the level once, so it gives you plenty of time to practice every nook and cranny of the level and hone your inner speed-running skills.
Visually, Shift Happens had an intriguing look that fit well with the atmosphere. The transitions between large and small go so smoothly and look phenomenal the entire time. The puzzles are set-up in such a way that the background matters and you must look for certain clues throughout the scenery to fully explore each level. The soundtrack is no different in its appeal. It provides a light-hearted melody that shines bright even in the most frustrating moments. The joyous tone is a great aesthetic and there is never a dull moment navigating the terrain. The only lacking feature in the way of sound is the noise that makes whenever you change the sizes of the blobs. The sound is a peculiar ‘bloop’ noise that can get quite obnoxious if you are changing back and forth rapidly.
My experience with Shift Happens was an enjoyable one. I played about half of the single player campaign and most of the cooperative campaign on local co-op. The single player was fun at first, but after a while, it just felt like a chore having to switch between both characters time after time just to complete one part of the multi-part puzzle. The puzzles would end up dragging on and I found myself playing less and less of the single player experience. The cooperative mode was a completely different story. Having the second player made the game that much more enjoyable and it felt like second nature. The game went so much smoother and only controlling one blob makes the puzzles easier. Having to work together with someone can be frustrating, but it is so much better than having to control every aspect yourself. So honestly, if you want the true experience of this game, grab a friend and play cooperatively. The single player is viable if that is not possible, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of this game’s potential.
Shift Happens is priced at $15 USD and I feel that is more than reasonable, but if you are going to purchase this game make sure you are able to play it in co-op. Have some friends over, find someone online that also has the game, and maybe even pay someone to play it with you (Uhhh…maybe don’t do that, it might turn out weird). In the end, this is a game that strives upon the cooperation of two individuals and that is where it shines. By yourself, you just aren’t getting the true experience that it has to offer.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7/10
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