Friday, October 4, 2013

The Watchlist: Shiftlings

Title: Shiftlings
Developer: Rock Pocket Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing early 2014
In Shiftlings you wobble your way alone or with a friend through the depths of space while your goal is to get both our alien friends to the end of each level without any casualties. The two alien twins are attached to each other through a cable at all times which enables the two aliens to switch sizes from super puffy to tiny. 

Browsing the various indie sites across the internet, it takes something special for a game to stand out and Shiftlings caught my eye thanks to its vibrant colorful visuals. The game is a physic based puzzle platformer with a focus on local co-operative play. You play as an alien duo linked by an air hose; with a single button, the player is able to transfer the air supply between them and shift their size. This mechanic opens the door for a variety of inventive puzzle and platforming possibilities, from seesaws to weight activated switches and much more.
I was fortunate enough to play an early demo of Shiftlings and test the mechanics myself. While the game can be played with a keyboard, a gamepad is by far the more comfortable way to play. Shiftlings is geared towards co-op, but playing solo with a pad was actually quite natural. The game is still a work in progress, with jumping and physics being tuned and more levels are in development, but even at this early stage, the demo showed great promise. From using your partner as a trampoline to synchronizing your jumps on the seesaw, the platforming and cooperative puzzles were just a lot of fun. The levels weren't all that difficult but elements like gravity beams and hazardous barriers definitely add to the complexity and hint at greater challenges to come.
Shiftlings is set to release in early 2014, on PC, Mac, Linux and possibly to consoles, IOS, and Ouya. You can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

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