Shiftlings

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Shiftlings Game Poster Image
Solid puzzler hampered by sophmoric humor, bad controls.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Completing levels, posting a good score to the leaderboards as positive as it gets. The announcer ridicules the player, and the game goes for cheap laughs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play as aliens trying to fix the galaxy. No particular good or bad characteristics demonstrated; the aliens are just doing their jobs as janitors.

Ease of Play

Keyboard controls unintuitive; use of controllers much more responsive for solving puzzles. Levels get harder as play goes on.

Violence
Sex
Language

Verbal, very tongue-in-cheek humor.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A television commentator drinks alcohol, smokes a cigar in one cut scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shiftlings is a downloadable platform-based puzzle game. The game contains sophomoric humor (farting), and the overall tone is very tongue-in-cheek. There are 50 levels of play that get progressively harder as players advance. Apart from the humor, which could turn off some, there's very little offensive content, save one cut scene where a character drinks and smokes a cigar.

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What's it about?

SHIFTLINGS is a two-dimensional platform puzzler that allows players to control one of two aliens attached by an air hose as they work across 50 levels repairing the galaxy. In the single-player mode, players can jump between the two characters, while multiplayer allows them to choose their favorite. The air hose transfers gas (as in, flatulence) between the two, inflating one suit and deflating the other. The caveat is that the inflated character can't jump very high or squeeze into tight places but can be used as a trampoline for the non-inflated character; the air hose also limits the distance the two can move apart. 

Is it any good?

Shiftlings offers up a different take on the two-dimensional platform-puzzle-game genre. Since the two characters are attached by the air hose, and gas can be transferred back and forth to inflate a suit, teamwork and strategy have a strong role. Fifty levels of gameplay also are a plus, and it doesn't take long to up the ante, so to speak, in terms of difficulty. Visually, it's a pleasing game; the bright graphics and colorful levels are eye-catching, and if the galaxy is so broken that these two aliens need to fix it, at least they're fixing the pretty portions of the universe. The downside, though, is that the keyboard controls are anything but intuitive. At times, it feels like you're doing acrobatics with your fingers to hit the right key combos. When you combine this with the ever-increasing difficulty, you'll beg for a controller to simplify the gameplay. The tongue-in-cheek humor -- especially the fart jokes -- also gets stale after six levels or so. Overall, Shiftlings has a great look and is challenging, but some gaps steer it away from being exceptional. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the humor in the game, which can sometimes be crude. What makes something funny? What is the line between humor and inappropriateness?

  • Talk about the value of teamwork. Why is it important to work together with others as a team? Are there moments when it's better to go alone?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love puzzles

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