Developed By: Isbit Games
Published By: Isbit Games
Release Date: 3.27.2018
Swedish developer Isbit Games’ first foray onto console gaming brings us Warp Shift for the Nintendo Switch. The primarily mobile game developer produced a charming puzzle game with slick visuals and a mostly smooth game experience.
The story for Warp Shift is pretty thin, but it does warrant some mention. It consists entirely of three cinematics; the intro movie, the ending movie for when you’ve finished all the levels, and the perfect ending movie for when you’ve collected all the stars (more on stars later). The opening movie has the main character, an androgynous child (seriously, I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or girl, and the game gives no hints), stumbling across a cavern in the woods. There the kid meets a cute block robot who has the ability to unlock portals on each of the floors of the mysterious obelisk that appears in the cavern. The child and the robot set off on their journey to travel to the top of the obelisk to solve the mystery that awaits them.
Warp Shift’s gameplay can best be described as a two-dimensional Rubik’s Cube. Each level has 4 to 12 rooms, each with one to four entrances. The player can shift the columns and rows in either direction to create a path from the starting point to the gate that leads to the next level. At the beginning, the levels are somewhat straightforward; the gate is unlocked and finding a path is the only real challenge. However, the obelisk has five sections consisting of fifteen levels each, and each new obelisk introduces a new obstacle for the child and the robot to bypass.
For instance, in the first section, the robot automatically flies to the end gate and unlocks it. But as you get to the second section, the robot is no longer automatically in the child’s hands to start the level. So now the player must chart a path to the robot, and then to the gate. Additional sections introduce purple doorways that only open when facing another purple doorway, red doorways that only open when the child flips a switch in a certain room, and warp gates that warp the player from one room to another. As more challenges are introduced, they are combined to create an array of possible solutions; however, to get the perfect ending, you have to find the best one.
Luckily, the game gives you a hint as to how long it thinks it should take you to solve each puzzle. In the upper left hand corner of the game screen, there are three stars and a counter showing how many moves the player has remaining before they lose a star. When you exceed the number of turns for one star, the counter rolls over into the number of turns you have before losing the next, until all the stars have disappeared. At this point, completing the level will net you no stars, but you can move on to the next level. Stars have two uses; you must collect a certain number of stars to unlock each new section, and collecting all the stars will unlock the perfect ending.
Most importantly, solving the puzzles and progressing through the tower is a fun and charming affair. Solving the harder puzzles and hearing the excited beeps of your robot companion as he displays your score after each level is a satisfying experience. The gameplay was simple enough to pick up, and Warp Shift can be played with just the controller but it does integrate some touchscreen capabilities, so you can choose a preferred play style.
Warp Shift features some sharp, colorful graphics. The character models of the child and the robot are clean and bright. The main character is nicely detailed and moves through the levels very fluidly, but despite the sharp graphics I couldn’t tell if they had a mullet or just a ponytail. I mean, it was definitely some party in the back, but it wasn’t really business up front, just some bangs. This has absolutely no effect on the game or my enjoyment of it, I just thought it was worth mentioning. The robot, while being literally just a cube with two square eyes, was full of life and movement and made for a perfect mascot and cheerleader when completing a level.
The levels are crisply designed, but there is little variety to them. The design of the boxes doesn’t change from level to level or section to section; it’s the same metal box every time. The backgrounds change slightly, but as you play you will barely notice the changes. The music largely fades into the background as well, but that’s not a major issue as it allows you to focus entirely on the puzzle. All in all, Warp Shift is a great-looking game, but the monotony of the levels’ visuals can be a bit boring.
Warp Shift can be played either docked or undocked, and the only difference between the two is that players can make use of the touchscreen while playing undocked. While playing on a controller, the rooms are selected and moved using the thumbsticks and buttons, and the controls for this work as well on a TV as they do undocked. The touchscreen controls allow the player to swipe the rows and columns in any direction and double-tapping on a room you have a path to sends the child to that room. The touch controls mostly worked very well, however on occasion they were a little unresponsive. It was more common when I had a screen protector on, but even without a screen protector the game would sometimes not register a touch control properly. It isn’t prohibitively common, but it was just common enough to be annoying. I usually stuck with just playing with the controllers.
TL;DR: Fun and pretty, but a small touchscreen control issue and lack of visual variety.
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