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Shu – Review

We don’t get to choose when destiny calls, and oftentimes, it comes when we least expect. Your life is normal, casual, routine when something completely unexpected comes across your path. A career opportunity, a special event, a romantic interest, or a means to help someone in a dire situation.

In these moments, we analyze the pros and cons, the good and the bad, the very consequences that could occur. But, there are the few moments where walking away means certain disaster. It is in these moments that destiny is something you accept and rise up to.

This is the case of charming fast platformer, Shu, from UK-based developer Coatsink. Shu is an experience that throws a momentous task in front of you, and failure to complete that task will result in the destruction of the entire world.

Shu puts players in a wonderfully imagined world, filled with life and abundance. Deep within, an ancient darkness is wreaking havoc, a ravenous storm that has taken the form of a huge monster. This storm consumes everything it touches, and nothing is left standing in its wake. It is a race against time to stop this storm.

Players star as the young and innocence Shu. Over the course of 5 Areas, players will race across the several stages in a desperate effort to outrun the end of the world. Along the way, Shu will encounter stranded villagers that have been lost in the chaos of the impending storm.  Each of these villagers has a special ability to navigate each obstacle in Shu, which ranges from running on water to smashing tough obstacles. Players will also be able to collect small trinkets, such as butterflies and mural slabs.

One of the biggest standouts for Shu, in addition to its charming presentation, is the kinetic energy of its platforming. No matter what console you are playing on, the game is very smooth and polished to allow for a sharp sense of speed, combined with a finely tuned input from players.

From the start, players are introduced to the simple mechanics of Shu, and in the process, become familiar with the quickness of the game. Where most platformers are slower or require precision, Shu combines a flowing speed with responsive controls. As players move across the levels, the stage, the 2.5D stage responsively moves alongside Shu, creating a flowing sensation of speed. It’s an engaging mechanic for players to enjoy, and it will keep them locked into the stages.

As mentioned before, Shu isn’t going through this daring adventure alone. He will have an assortment of friends to help him. Each villager has a very special ability to allow Shu to traverse hazards and dangers. While there aren’t traditional enemies in this game, players will need to avoid obstacles, such as thorn pits and spiked plants.

Using these abilities is simple and easy, as well goes well with the flow of the stage. These abilities create interesting paths and occurrences in the level, and this is most especially true during the climactic segments in several stages involving the dreadful evil storm. The vile storm can occur suddenly and will prompt players to run for their lives. As the stages destabilize around them, players will have to use quick wits and reflexes to outrun the monstrous storm. It is is easier said than done as many surprises will occur during these incredibly intense moments.

When everything comes together, Shu is a wonderous gameplay experience. There is a certain joy but interactivity to the platforming, whether it is using Shu to zip along large gaps or remarking at the colorful visuals that the jungle stage provides, there is a very redeeming and fun charm to the game. Even as the game doesn’t feature a comprehensive story, the simple premise of gathering your friends together to save the land is quite rewarding.

Shu employs a very artistic combination of 2D animated characters with 2.D levels. The illustrations of the character you meet are fun and colorful, giving the game more personality. However, that doesn’t mean Shu is a cakewalk of a game.

Despite its innocent appearance, Shu is no pushover. Some levels are quite tricky and will require repeat playthroughs to fully master. The game holds a firm but fair challenge, which is great for both casual and experienced players.

When the main campaign is concluded, there are plenty of reasons to revisit levels, as discovering its secrets and attaining 100% completion is worth the effort. Players will need repeat gameplay to attain the “no dying” achievement for each stage, as well as gather all the collectibles to attain the gold rank. Additionally, keen-eyed players will have to keep an eye out for mural pieces to unlock the extra Area 6, featuring new stages and challenges for players.

If there’s any drawback to Shu, it would have to be the overall length. The game will take a solid amount of time to experience, and a little further to 100% complete, even with repeat playthrough and the inevitable deaths that will occur in this pursuit. It would be have been neat to see what other ideas could be seen in regards to this fascinating and charming world that Coatsink has created.  However, length aside, the game runs great on all platforms, including the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch.

Shu is a wonderful fantasy adventure, with its charming characters to its engaging platforming. Shu is sure to please and engage experienced players, as well as be a wonderful title for casual players and newcomers to games. While short, the game’s kinetic energy and enthusiasm make the game a worthwhile experience for all to enjoy. Don’t Shu away from this one.

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