Review: Shu – A Charming and Delightful Artistic Platformer

Platform titles are ten a penny now-a-days in the gaming community so it does take something special to stand out from the rather crowded genre. The latest developer to show off their platforming skills is Coatsink which brings us Shu. This delightfully artistic 2.5D platformer certainly brings gamers some oomph in the visual front along with some solid platforming fun in toe.

Shu brings something that a few games have tried over the years, where the story is told just through pictures with no dialog in sight. In misplaced hands this can go very wrong but thankfully Coatsink embrace the challenge with no issues at all, in fact it helps bring out the overall charm of Shu. The story while simple is easy to understand. You play Shu whose world is turned upside down via a nasty living breathing storm. He watches this storm take the life of what appears to be his father with the intent to take Shu and the village as its next victims. This results in Shu traversing visually colourful landscapes while rescuing his friends in the process. Can you out run the Storm that threatens the world with destruction?

When it comes to gameplay Shu does not disappoint and brings its own pizazz to the table. Things start off simple with you just controlling Shu where all you need to know is jump and glide. Its starts off at a very calm pace and you quickly see that you can attack levels multiple ways as well as the joy of finding many of the games collectables. Not only that but scattered all through the levels are floating butterflies that glow. There are a lot to be collected with some levels having over 300 or more. The game starts off in a beautiful and colourful village setting and from there you will go on to four other locations offering their own unique challenges. These include locations such as a desert filled village among the canyons to a rainforest with a deadly thunder storm. In the later you need to make it into the balls of light to save from being killed by lightning. Each of the locations take on a life of their own thanks to the hand drawn artwork which is overflowing with charm.

There are friends that Shu will come across in which you save from the relentless chasing storm. You will come across two of these characters at a time throughout the game. They will also bring abilities that you can use while they are with you. The levels are cleverly designed to make use of each of the abilities on offer. One friend will allow you to run on water, while another will allow you to wall jump were there are certain flowers present. Granted this is nothing new but it does make navigating the levels more enjoyable. There are also other collectables to collect in the form of little birds hatching from eggs as well as artefact’s to hunt down.

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When it comes to enemies there are none but thanks to the level design and the theme of the game you don’t miss having foes to dodge. Some levels will let you navigate then at your own pace, where others you don’t have the choice but to run. Most of the levels will have multiple paths through them where one path will lead to collectables and which are easy to get to when not being chased by the storm. However, once it’s time to escape the storm things become much more challenging. In the early part of the game you are introduced to these fast pace sections after you have found the collectables, but later in the game these sections will also have collectables to be found. The question is can you get to them fast enough before the storms catches you.

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The games difficulty is the perfect mix of being not too easy and not too hard. I was surprised at how little cheap deaths are in the game and something the developers should be proud of. The most challenging part of the game is the sections where you try and outrun the storm. Thankfully there are plenty of checkpoints in the game and with each checkpoint it restores your life to five, however run out of lives and you will be starting the level again. The controls are pretty solid as well, I was using an Xbox One controller and didn’t have any issues what so ever. Jumping was very responsive, the only tip I will give is go into the controller settings so you can see what button does what as it isn’t always clear when you are playing the game. The final level as you would imagine puts you through the test where the design is split up to make use of all the friends you have rescued at the same time as the relentless storm chases you. This is the one level I have found the most difficult but not to the level where it is unfair.

What really makes Shu stand out for me is the games artwork and graphics. I cannot complement enough on the visually stunning job the artists in the team have done. The hand drawing graphics and character’s look at home in the games environments. I have to say my favourite location is the final one with the stain glassed platforms that break away and re-join. I also have to give praise in the lush green forest location with a raging thunder storm, it just looks splendid. The sounds track to the game really does suit it and is a joy to listen to.

The Good Things

  • Charming and delightfully artistic platformer.
  • Solid controls.
  • Great level design.

And The Bad

  • The 15 levels fly by.

My Verdict…

    Shu certainly stands out in the crowed thanks to the hand drawn artwork which really does bring this game alive. This is the perfect example that we still need games utilizing this choice of visual style. The game is also a solid 2.5D platforming title with great controls and intuitive level design, and one where coming across cheap deaths is a very rare occurrence. There is also the inclusion of time trials on every level with a worldwide leaderboards to test your running skills. Most levels also have multiple paths which also give a reason to replay levels especially if you like to have a 100% completion rate in your games. The game may be short but Shu has enough oomph and flare for this platformer to be in your gaming collection.

When it comes to gameplay Shu does not disappoint and brings its own pizazz to the table.

About no1phil

PR Manager & Editor for XLC Gaming Network. I have been gaming since the ZX Spectrum days growing up through many generations of consoles. A bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to gaming genres. When I'm not either being shot at, dancing, scoring for the other team or racing I am trying to become a guitar God with Rocksmith 2014.