Shu PS4 Review
Publisher: Secret Lunch Developer: Coatsink Genre: Platformer Players: 1
Age Rating: 7+ Other console/handheld formats: Vita
Shu is a fast paced platformer that places emphasis on running through a level as fast as you can, with the only obstructions being the many traps found in the environment. That is the gist of this game, but what makes Shu even more of a tense experience is the fact that from level to level, you are given new controls to work with thanks to the titular Shu’s many companions who accompany him on his journey.
Overall Shu is very much a simple game with trial and error based gameplay. You start a level, running as fast as you can and learning the layout as you go, with your ultimate goal being to reach the end. The controls are simple, with each character that you encounter having their own unique set of skills. Shu is able to run fast and can glide through the air, and during a level you will meet up with two of his friends who will then use their own skills to help you through the level, which is based around what skills they’ll be using. You only ever control Shu, with the other characters running alongside him and with their abilities being used at the push of a button as you go. Shu’s friends additional abilities include slowing down time, a quick dash manoeuvre, double jump amongst others. This allows for levels to offer much variation and also puts your reflexes to the test as you run along and use all three characters’ skills at once.
Levels become even more intense with the introduction of the enemy to the game with your only option being to run away like the clappers; the only way to describe this enemy is like a dark gassy cloud with teeth, and towards the end of some levels, you have to use all three of your characters abilities to keep away from it, and the action is intense during these sections. You would think this mechanic would outstay its welcome, and for the most part while it does get your adrenaline pumping as you jump, duck and dive over the may obstacles to avoid it, in some cases it could have been used less to give you more opportunity to explore levels – there are many places that you miss when you are being chased with your freedom being restricted to moving forward as fast as you can only. Yes, the levels have been designed in such a way that they don’t offer much reward should you go off to explore other paths, though it still makes you feel as though you are missing out on something when your only option is to frantically move forward.
All the usual objects that you find in most platformers are here, such as multiple routes, spikes, bottomless pits and chasms, things that want to turn you into a pancake. You’ll also be collecting glowing butterflies – the equivalent to Sonic the Hedgehog’s rings – and dotted about the level are ‘babbies’, small bird hatchlings that you can collect, there being 6 in total per level. Checkpoints are also present and, thankfully, Shu is a very generous game with checkpoints dotted about everywhere with them offering you 5 lives upon contact. So even though the levels are very much about trial and error gameplay, should you fail you won’t be unfairly placed back at a point in which it will take you forever to get back to where you died.
Shu is very much about fun, moving forward as fast as possible and getting through a level as quickly as you can, whilst pulling off some quick manoeuvres using the various skills. Besides the main enemy that chases you, there are no other enemies to be found in the game and this gives you less opportunity to be slowed down. As mentioned there are other environmental obstacles that you face that will bring you to a halt, but the levels have been designed in such a way that you are able to memorise them and come back and then run through them flawlessly – for speedrunners this game will be a dream.
In some ways, however, you could say that Shu is overly generous when it comes to the checkpoints and lives that it hands out. Later levels do up the ante when it comes to the difficulty, but for the most part, some players may find this game rather lax in its challenges, and with there only being 15 levels that can be run through fairly quickly, the game is also a bit on the short side, at least for those who aren’t into speedrunning games. The game very much lacks any incentive for casual players to come back and speed through the levels again, with the babbies being the only collectable in the game, aside from the usual trophies.
The games design is very simple looking with each level being catered to whatever characters skills will be used in that level. Each level has its own distinct look, and even though they are detailed, they aren’t at a level that you will be very impressed; mostly the graphics can be described as ‘nice’, if a bit plain. The levels themselves can feel quite barren as the emphasis is more about running through it as fast as you can rather than exploring every nook and cranny, though one level that stood out for me was one in which you had to stand under a light source in order to avoid being electrocuted by a thunder bolt during a particularly cloudy storm. The character animations are basic and look like old flash animations and each character has their own quirky look though they are rather forgettable.
There is a story that sets up the game, though again, it is forgettable, with the emphasis here being based purely on the gameplay, which Shu does well. There’s something about a monster destroying Shu’s village and him needing to defeat said monster to restore peace and saving the many villagers, the characters that help Shu during his mission.
There’s some personality to be had here though it’s not a game that has much depth and even though Shu plays and controls well, it isn’t a game that will set the gaming world alight. It’s a nice little game and well put together, though is basic and is yet another game that will appeal to those who like speedrunning or just want to play something simple and enjoyable and something that plays much like the platformers of old.