Looking for a game this week was actually quite difficult, particularly since I came to the realization that we’re now experiencing somewhat of a golden age of art design in games. Finding something that is really pleasant to look at was actually quite easy, but those I looked at seemed to be lacking in the more important department: gameplay. Then I stumbled across SHIO. SHIO has an incredible style and gorgeous art to go with it, but also seems to have the gameplay to back it up.
SHIO is being developed by Coconut Island Studio, a company that has mostly made some mobile games, some of which have been very well-received in China. As Chinese developers who have mostly seen success in Asia, SHIO seems to be a step out into the gaming market at large. This is not to say they are out of their depth, but it will be interesting to see what they bring to the table in the new experience where they are making a game together unlike anything else they’ve done in the past.
First I’d like to say that I absolutely cannot stand platformers anymore—their novelty was gone for me before Braid came out. Because of that, I have some hesitation regarding SHIO. The gameplay looks interesting and seems a unique take on the platforming genre in some since, but is it enough? Does it execute it well? Aside from the main, unique mechanic shown in the trailer, what else does it have to offer? With all of that said, the foundation for SHIO seems pretty great.
From the trailer above, a lot of what you see is pretty standard fare. The unique part is the chain jumping, which seems to also have a certain level of finesse required in the momentum of moving around. My big worry is in just how precise that is and how much control the player will have. Platformers both live and die based on the control players can exude over movement, so I hope that mechanic is fine tuned to the point that a player can reasonably use it. However, I of course don’t know without playing the game.
Other than that mechanic, there is not a whole lot to talk about in terms of SHIO‘s gameplay. It doesn’t appear to do anything else other than what you would expect in a platformer, and one would assume with something like Greenlight the developers would want to show off as much cool stuff as they could to get people to vote. Though, the single mechanic about chaining jumps with momentum is more than enough to throw in variety if they take the time to do some great level design.
SHIO‘s trailer does a bit to set up a story to give context as to why this warrior is pushing himself forward. It’s a pretty basic setup that’s not really all that compelling—he seems to be trying to figure out why he is dreaming of a little girl and why she looks familiar to him. Who knows, the story may offer something great as you go through the game, but most people will of course be playing SHIO for the gameplay.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say the art is not what first drew me to the game. As I said previously, I am most definitely not a platformer fan in any since of the definition. However, there are a lot of shots from levels, cutscenes, and more from SHIO that are some of the better pieces I’ve seen in games recently. The quality is most assuredly there, and I truly do hope that it translates into other areas of the game as well.
And while I acknowledge that art style is mostly subjective, SHIO not only appeals to me personally, but the aesthetic all matches wonderfully. It’s not a mishmash of pretty images, but all of it makes sense in the theme the game is set in. So even if this did not appeal to me, I couldn’t deny that it was put together very well. This should come as no surprise either, as the Greenlight page mentions SHIO was created out of an art project by the developer, Yi Shao, who made an early demo first, reaching out to Coconut Island Studio to flesh out the game some more.
So, that’s about all there is to say about SHIO, most of which you’ll get by watching the videos the development team has put together. So check out the Greenlight page for even more information, and give it a thumbs up if you’d be interested in seeing it on Steam!
What do you think of SHIO? Does it do something unique enough in its gameplay to standout?