Saturday, June 2

Review: Shift Quantum [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One thing is certain, there has been a great diversity of puzzle games that have hit the Switch to this point. We’ve had ones that play better in handheld mode care of the touchscreen, thought-provoking ones, action-oriented ones, and pretty well a little of everything. When you have a pretty wide variety within a single genre on the platform it can be tough to set yourself apart. Shift Quantum, just looking at some screen shots, looks incredibly straightforward and perhaps a bit boring. However, give it some time and it throws in some surprises with a bit of intrigue that works as a basic story of sorts and some very clever puzzle design.

Across the over 100 levels that make up the main campaign you’ll primarily be working to make your way from the entrance of the level to the exit. You’ll learn that you can jump and grab ledges to pull yourself up but not too much more than that physically. What sets the game apart, though, is your ability to shift through the floor and essentially invert the colors of the black and white world. In the negative version of the world everything is inverted and this makes more possibilities for getting around available to you. It’s pretty simple but even only about 10 levels in it begins to show some creativity. Just to entice you to work a little harder many levels additionally have a collectible somewhere. The majority aren’t too difficult to get to but for people like me it does make you work a bit harder to figure out how to get them all.

Where the design really begins to excel is when, of all things, movable boxes are introduced to the mix. Obviously you can use them to make a jump possible or to cover a switch that will allow you to pass but it’s when the colors are inverted that their creative use comes into play. When the box is inverted it essentially creates a neutral block in what would otherwise be an inverted space. You can use this to move through what would otherwise be solid platforms and the planning required as you move along gets to be fun as you plot out your moves to be made in both spaces, with the block movement sometimes feeling very much like a dance as you get to your exit.

While just the core puzzles would be enough the other factors in the game’s favor are the surprising, though simple, “story” that is revealed pretty early on and kept me interested. Though it’s not very much there is more to the game than just the puzzles and both the effort and the execution are an appreciated extra touch of care from the developer. As if that weren’t enough there’s also an included level editor as well as a way for you to share your levels and discover them from others. This additional value add, again, is terrific to see and really helps extend the potential life of the game even further as long as people maintain an interest.

Shift Quantum was a very pleasant surprise of a quality puzzle game, and it delivered quite a bit more than its modest presentation would imply. More than just a collection of pretty rote puzzles, which is something that happens a bit too often in this genre, Shift Quantum has some great ideas and it makes the most of exploring the challenges that can be concocted around them. If you’re a puzzle fan who has been looking for something that veers off the normal path a bit and throws in some intrigue to boot it’s a quality choice.

Score: 8

  • More than 100 core levels that are creative and challenging
  • Not just a detached collection of puzzles, it also delivers a relatively simple story that catches your attention
  • A level editor that includes community support

  • Some may find the presentation a bit too simplistic
  • I suppose it is possible people could eventually find some of the later levels a bit too difficult