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Parallel Shift Review

Official Score

Overall - 60%

60%

Controlling Parallel Shift’s protagonist duo at the same time sounds like an interesting concept, but the execution ends up feeling like an awkward affair. When paired with its bog standard retrowave aesthetics, the end result feels like something players have seen before.

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Dimensional shifts are the name of the game in Parallel Shift, a new platform runner by the team at Insightful Games. Managing two characters simultaneously is a tall order – does this duo manage to work together?

Parallel Shift Review

Rather than there being one protagonist, players will take control of the scientists King and Tess at the same time. In a search to learn more about the universe, their latest experience resulted in an explosion that changed things for the duo. In an effort to survive, these two must work together as they run forward and prevent themselves from being erased.

This simple tale is intentionally cryptic, told through blocks of text between levels. It is most certainly a take-it-or-leave it type of scenario – one can just as easily blow through these segments with a press of the shift key without missing anything of significance. Animated scenes – or even still images – would have added more to the presentation.

Thankfully the game lives and dies by its action. With King rightside up and Tess upside down, these two rush forward at a steady clip. Players can shift their places at the press of the space button, which is absolutely crucial when their color breach shows up. A number of vortex hazards must also be jumped over, and players can rewind time at select moments with the shift button.

There’s not much to the control scheme, which is both a blessing and a curse. There gets to be times in the game where timing is absolutely crucial, and organizing everything is like walking and chewing bubblegum at the same time. It doesn’t always work as it should – there are moments where the timing window seems a little off and others where it feels a little too awkward. However, when players get through each segment (either through muscle memory or rote memorization), it can feel worth it.

Parallel Shift also features a presentation that stresses the retrowave aesthetic. All of the classic hallmarks are proudly on display; you’ve got the thumping synth soundtrack that manages to be upbeat and hypnotic at the same time, you’ve got the low poly geometric shapes in the background, and you’ve got the neon-soaked world these two scientists inhabit. While it’s a solid aesthetic, it’s one fans have seen countless times before. As a result, it doesn’t make a lasting impression.

Players can blast through this title before too long, with select achievements tied to level progression. What you see is what you get, and this is more of a one-and-done title than anything else.

Controlling Parallel Shift’s protagonist duo at the same time sounds like an interesting concept, but the execution ends up feeling like an awkward affair. When paired with its bog standard retrowave aesthetics, the end result feels like something players have seen before.

This review of Parallel Shift was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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