23/01/2018

☆ Review: Shu - "A platformer so good, you’ll be floating on air" ☆ #Gamedev #IndieGame

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Game: Shu

Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Coatsink
Rating: ICE COOL

There have been a lot of video game releases recently for the Switch and I’ve noticed a fair few of these are ports from Steam from several years ago (Crimsonland for £15, anyone?) of varying quality and so coming across a game like Shu which has clearly being loving ported with attention to detail and also at a very impressive price (£7.69 at the time of writing) is a genuine breath of fresh air. 

A platformer that feels familiar but with its own unique twists, Shu is a golden addition to any Switch owner’s collection.



The entire story of Shu is told wordlessly. An introductory sequence shows the titular hero watch in horror as his home town is destroyed by a huge living storm (it’s even got a massive, snapping mouth…creepy!) as he is thrown to the transient safety of a river, where his journey begins. 


The first impression I got of Shu was that it reminded me of the more modern Rayman games (good). Its mood, gameplay, style of narrative and even certain aspects of the music bring to mind the ukulele strums of the former game and it’s no bad thing as it’s all handled so well. 


Graphically the game called to mind Guacamelee and, especially in the first section, Papo & Yo. The game play is in a 2.5D style and so we are treated to richly realised backdrops and vibrant, colourful palettes as we guide Shu through his world. 

Speaking of the game world, Shu is split into five ‘lands’ (each with a bird-themed name) and each of those lands are split into three separate levels. The twist in Shu is that whilst you always have your own character’s ‘power’ (floating in the air, able to ride gusts of wind) other abilities are picked up from characters that you meet along the way and walk hand-in-hand with. 


The first land has you picking up a friend who can smash vertically through blockages and also a character that can open and close flowers to act as platforms. The levels are split into three sections that work out as:


1st – explore and meet the two additional characters that grant you powers

2nd – Using these new abilities, work your way through the level
3rd – RUN AWAY FROM THE MASSIVE STORM!


The chase sequences in Shu I found genuinely exhilarating and tense. There is a definite difficulty spike during some of these requiring absolute precision, but the game’s checkpoint system is very fair. Quite regularly you will pass a structure holding five bells and each one of these bells represents an extra life, when all five bells are used up, the level has to be restarted, although I only died a handful of times because the game has quite a well-designed learning curve (except for the last level which RINSED me a good few times!) so it’s not teeth-grindingly punishing. 


Of note is the fact that there are no enemies (beyond the end of level storm), the challenge of Shu comes from environmental hazards and the player’s skill level, so there’s no-one to blame but yourself if you make a mistake.


There are collectibles on each level that act as guides as well in the form of butterflies which can be picked up and hidden items to allow you to complete 100% of the game, should you wish. 


There are also online scoreboards for speed runs, etc. So although the game is only a few hours long, there is a replayability factor built in for those who want more of a challenge but the breeziness of the game and its length makes it feel fresh and innovative throughout, never outstaying its welcome.



Summary

Shu is a great game that I’m glad I discovered on the Switch, it proves that 2D games still have a wealth of life in them and are still enjoyable and charming when done right. The mood, graphics and music in the game are joyous and evocative, I found myself tapping along with the music and genuinely getting emotionally involved whenever I outran the storm and saw my little friends taken away to safety in a hot air balloon, it was all done in such a heart-warming manner that I couldn’t help but be taken along with it. 

There are some that may find that it’s not enough of a challenge for them and they want something a  bit more full-on but at its price and with it’s tightness of design and high production-values, for me, Shu is the first surprise delight of the year so far for me and I’m more than glad to spread the love.


Right, I’m off to try the final level gauntlet again, into the eye of the storm once more!....Well, into the mouth of the storm, in my case…sadly.

RATING: ICE COOL

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)



















Review By Britt