Shu is a platforming game that distills the genre down to some of its very basics. The titular Shu can run, jump, and glide through levels with the sole intention of moving from point A to B. There are additional friendly characters that introduce some new mechanics in short spurts and each stage has a number of collectibles to find, but Shu still feels focused on presenting a simple and pure kind of platforming game.
The only bits of story in Shu come in the form of an opening and closing cinematic that’s simply there to provide a little context for things. The game doesn’t get too bogged down in creating a narrative and it really doesn’t need to. Instead, we get to join Shu on his brief journey across the land to save his friends and outrun a terrifying storm that’s torn through their village.
Visually, I think Shu looks pretty nice and, while not one specific thing stands out, the game has a handful of neat touches that really go a long way. One example is the way that Shu and his friends will hold hands once they meet up, never once letting go until the stage is over. It’s cute, and also works to demonstrate the level of camaraderie that’s needed to survive any number of deadly obstacles that stand in their way. Shu and his friends work as a team and the way that’s implemented into the game is one of its greatest strengths.
Shu’s adventure will take him through five locations that each contain 2-4 stages, with a total of 15 stages altogether. There are no enemies in the game, aside from the storm that will sometimes introduce ‘chase’ sequences, with the main goal focusing on reaching the end with any collectibles that you might find. Stages are designed in such a way that you could speed through them (each stage has a time trial for that reason), but you’ll want to take things slow and explore a fair amount for the first run. There are Babbies to rescue, butterflies to collect, and mural pieces to find – most of which can be easily passed up if you’re not paying attention.
Each of the five ‘worlds’ in the game also introduces two new friends that’ll join Shu for a few levels. These characters all have their own unique ability that allows for a bit more diversity in level design. Shu’s friends are capable of double-jumping, walking on water, activating various platforms, and slowing down time among other things. The game only ever allows for two other friends to join Shu at a time, which leads to some interesting changes in level design without ever getting too complicated. This works out pretty well, the final stage in particular stands out in the way it incorporates Shu and all of his friends. However, it’d be nice to see the pairings switch up a bit more. I’d like to see what would happen if we could double-jump and charge forward at the same time. What sort of level design would that bring?
I finished Shu in about three hours on my first playthrough. In general, the game is pretty good about introducing new characters/abilities at a steady pace to keep things interesting. That said, the moments where it’s just Shu can get pretty dull once you’ve had new abilities given and taken away in each world. What’s here is enjoyable enough, though, and the collectibles and time trials make for a decent incentive to spend just a bit more time with Shu, even after the credits.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- The hand drawn art looks nice. Overall style reminds me a bit of the recent Rayman 2D games.
- Each friend has one specific ability tied to them. The way they hold hands is endearing.
- Solid level design
What I Dislike:
- The parts with just Shu can be pretty dull.
- Would like to see the pairings that join Shu in a level get mixed up a bit.