Code Shifter (XB1) Review

Glitch please!

Have you ever wanted to play a game about squashing bugs in a video game? Well Code Shifter is that game. There have been plenty of titles that break the fourth wall of game design, but Code Shifter adds a comical touch to the idea by actually playing a game to fix a game. This quirky action title dips into a back catalog of characters and references, but ultimately falls short of being as appealing as it hopes to be.

Players take on the role of Stella, a programmer for the Awesome Rainbow Corp. (clever acronym) as she is tasked with eliminating the bugs in a currently in development video game. To do so she has created the Code Shifter. This is a program that allows her to enter the game code and eliminate the bugs via attacks. While on paper that sounds extremely interesting, in practice it becomes a chore.

MSRP: $14.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Switch
Price I’d Pay: $9.99

Code Shifter is your standard side-scrolling action game. Players attack with a bevy of moves along the backdrop of some truly bland levels. Sadly the entire game boils down to some uninspired button mashing. Character movement is stiff, making the combat feel more cumbersome than it should. A lot of times the game will throw situations at the player that it simply wasn’t designed to handle. This becomes evident when more than one enemy is onscreen. It seems to be asking for pinpoint movement and attacks, which the game simply does not accommodate.

The hook feels like the inclusion of characters from other Arc games. These exist in the form of power-ups that can be collected in each level. Some are like assist characters, while others can be used directly. Only a couple at a time can be used and without knowing their strengths until I picked them up, I never knew if it was worth switching until I just did it. It really doesn’t add anything to the core game and feels more like a bullet point on the box.

As far as extras go there is a Smash Bros. type of battle game included that can be played from the outset. This includes four characters from the start, but as I collected them in the main game, they could also be used here. This mode can be played with friends or bots and really didn’t add a whole lot. I played maybe three times before I had seen all I wanted to see. There are also co-op levels that unlock as I progressed, but I found little want to return to these after playing the core game.

Code Shifter is a neat idea that simply does not do itself any favors. The game play is fine, just uninspired. I wish it was more fleshed out with more variety in combat and design. The ideas are there even if the game play falls short. Code Shifter is a game aimed at such a niche audience; I wonder if it will find one at all.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Neat concept
  • Classic characters
  • Monotonous game play
  • Bland levels
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.