I’m Olivier Vermeille, Marketing & PR Manager at Zallag (an independent publisher from France) and I’m thrilled to be able to talk directly with the PlayStation Community once again through this blog!
It’s actually a very unique platform/puzzle game where you have the ability to reverse each level to find new ways out. It’s all based around this concept of “shifting” and the black & white art style.
Basically, you’re the subject of an experiment and you have to go through the 120 twisted levels using the only power you have: shifting. It lets you completely change the environment and the very structure of the level by reversing the gravity and the colours: black becomes white, plain becomes void and vice-versa. It’s not the easiest thing putting this concept into words, but you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about once you have a look at the trailer.
This extended version of SHIFT was specifically developed and enhanced for the PlayStation 3 and the PSP. The content from the original version was doubled and there are five new gameplay features added as well (converters, mobile blocks, mobile spikes, elastic blocks and a time attack feature) which you can have a glimpse of in this second video.
I was really curious about the making of such a unique game so I asked the developers, Fishing Cactus, a few questions.
Why is the entire game in black and white? It doesn’t seem very complicated to add a few colors so why didn’t you?
The art style is completely driven by the gameplay mechanic. It’s the idea of completely reversing the space, of being able to play in a level and a second later in its negative form, which dictated this choice. Not to mention that a black and white game is much more pleasant to look at than, let’s say, a red and blue game for example.
On top of that, the levels are not overloaded with information. There’s a reason why the levels are so uncluttered: with that original a mechanic, it’s important for the player to be able to focus on the puzzles and therefore everything must be slick and intuitive. Having too many background elements would cause some confusion to the players.
When you think about it, this particular art style contributes to the success of the game: when you see a screenshot of SHIFT extended you just can’t confuse it with another title, it’s what makes the game so unique!
60 in the original version, 120 for SHIFT extended. How do you manage to keep the player interested after so many levels?
Everything depends on the skill of our Level Designers, doesn’t it? More seriously, we introduced a lot of new mechanics since we have had a lot of creative possibilities. Actually, the biggest issue was to make sure that we were not redundant and that each level had its unique look and sequence, despite the recurrent black and white paradigm.
What’s the most time-consuming: the level design or the technical development?
Actually it’s quite the same for me since it is a 2D game with only one-screen levels. The development of the level is made in same time as the level design. The only restriction we had was to fix a well-adjusted curve of difficulty, and to make sure that the player had fully understood the mechanics we had introduced through the game before bringing new ones bit-by-bit.
What are the levels you are the most proud of?
The 20 last levels are among our favourites. Those are also the hardest of the game, so maybe is it linked. There is one we particularly appreciate. We can’t wait to see how long you will need to get through it.
SHIFT extended was released on January 19th on the European PlayStation Store for €3.99/£3.49. You’ll find it in the minis section (as it’s a minis, when purchased, the game is playable both on your PlayStation 3 and/or on your PSP). Everyone from Zallag and Fishing Cactus hope you’ll have a blast playing it!
Our official website at Zallag.com is also a great way to keep in touch with news, blogs and many ways to contact us.