Coatsink and Secret Lunch worked hard together to bring us Shu, an adorable and gorgeous hand drawn 2.5D platformer. Coatsink has always striven to bring us games that push the limit, taking a moment to nod to Esper and Esper 2, and Shu did not disappoint.
As a kid I was inundated with Nintendo and the many Super Mario titles so there is always a special place in my heart for a good platformer. Stylistically Shu is impressive from the start; the world is beautifully crafted and the characters are all uniquely designed. Each world has three courses that you maneuver through and they are all quite lengthy. The levels are partitioned into many segments with the existence of checkpoints that automatically gives you five lives. While this may seem unnecessary or superfluous, the real challenge is that between each checkpoint there is a puzzle to be solved by using any number and combination of the three skills available to you.
The added rotation of party members along with each of their unique skills really added a layer of difficultly and fun for me that was refreshing. Shu himself has a gliding ability that is available to you at all times, but on his adventure he meets other displaced villagers that bestow their own special ability on him – a ground pound, the ability to walk on water, wall-jumping, etc. The controls are tight and there were many times during a run where I would time all of my jumps and skills just right to cleanly and artfully glide between a few checkpoints. This, I feel, is one of its biggest draws and there is a lot of potential for this game to be picked up in the speed-running community. With both the long length and unique structure of the levels, along with the constantly changing pace in between checkpoints I feel that Shu brings a fresh face to platformers.
The tight gameplay and gorgeous hand-drawn graphics are tied together with an endearing tale about Shu and his quest to rescue his friends. There are ten villagers that Shu travels with that have their own unique powers and together they work to overcome the threat by evil to their very existence. With the added challenge of incorporating various combinations of skills and the challenges that lay between each checkpoint, Shu left me feeling incredibly satisfied when I finally succeeded.
Shu is not particularly long in terms of content, but the replayability is high and as there are various types of collectables, time trials, and online leader boards as well as in-game achievements. The game is segmented into five major worlds with three levels each, but as I said earlier each level is actually quite lengthy and the game does have a learning curve so depending on your skill with the platforming genre it can take some time to fully beat the game. Overall, I absolutely loved Shu and am looking forward to collecting all of the sweet babbies!
Shu is available for download on PC, PS4, and will be releasing soon on PS Vita and is priced at £9.49 / $11.99 / €11.99.
Overall, Shu was the freshest feeling platformer I've picked up in quite a while and I'm still going to continue to play through to try and collect all of the collectibles and to complete the time trials. The replayability and the tight and smooth controls are what I enjoy most about the game. I will say that I played for at first with a keyboard and mouse, but am looking forward to playing through with a controller. I've heard that the game plays even smoother. The graphics and the sound track were all spectacular and I'm a huge sucker for them (I loved Child of Light for this reason as well!) and really tie together how great a game Shu really is.