Shiftlings

They like big guffs and they can­not lie

XBox: The Official Magazine - - REVIEWS -

Of the mind­set that fart jokes are more puerile than they are top of the parps? Stop read­ing now. But if you’re more of a play­ground-hu­mour per­sua­sion, this plat­form-puzzler is oc­ca­sion­ally a gas.

Af­ter one of your doo­fus jan­i­tor duo guz­zles a bot­tle of an ex­tremely fizzy drink, he de­vel­ops quite the emis­sions prob­lem and fills up his suit. Which isn’t so great for his grumpy pur­ple pal, given that the pair are teth­ered to­gether by an air hose. It is, how­ever, more use­ful for you – tap­ping Y switches which of the two­some is in­flated to a great girth, and shrinks the other back to nor­mal size.

Lit­tle and large each have their ad­van­tages. The for­mer is nim­ble and sprightly, able to fit into com­pact spa­ces, pull switches and dart about; the lat­ter is slow and un­gainly, but can ac­ti­vate pres­sure pads, serve as a tram­po­line and – most fun of all – drag his com­pan­ion about like an un­will­ing lhasa apso on a leash. Play­ing solo, you switch be­tween them by press­ing B or move them in tan­dem by hold­ing LB; there’s also the op­tion for you and a friend to con­trol one apiece in co-op.

The puzzles take the form of plat­form lev­els, each with an end­point to reach. But some­times, you reach your goal and are then turned around and told to go back. It can feel a bit di­rec­tion­less, which isn’t helped by the fact that some level fur­ni­ture is geared around col­lectible cola bot­tles – and th­ese aren’t al­ways clearly dif­fer­en­ti­ated from your main ob­jec­tives path. It’s nat­u­rally eas­ier in co-op, but still re­quires tight com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Most of the laughs, we found, came in mak­ing friends go all fat when they least ex­pected/wanted it.

The cen­tral me­chanic may lose a lit­tle of its charm over time, and the lurid colours soon grate, but as in any puz­zle game worth its space dust, the best mo­ments come when some­thing new ‘clicks’. When you re­alise how to use the big guy as a coun­ter­weight to pull the littl’un on to a ledge, say, or twig that mov­ing plat­forms make great jump-off points from which to bounce on your out­sized pal’s head. It’s nei­ther as chaotic nor as amus­ing as it wants to be, but th­ese space goons still sweep up some fun. OXM

Pub­lisher Sierra / De­vel­oper Rock Pocket Games / For­mat Xbox One / re­lease date Out now

Those blue beams are grav­ity rays, which sweep you along and can be both a help and a hin­drance.

Get­ting ei­ther of your pair elec­tro­cuted means ul­tra­frus­trat­ing in­sta-death.

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