While puzzle platformers have continued to be churned out by many indie studios, straight-up platformers have mostly been forgotten. Shu takes its inspiration from games like Rayman Legends, seeking to create an action platformer that puts its focus on giving you unique abilities to get through levels. Does it make Shu worth jumping through, or should you just set this game down?
The story of Shu is pretty basic. You play as a bird kid named Shu, who's enjoying a party with the rest of his village. Unfortunately, a massive living storm hits, with the intent of swallowing Shu and the village whole. With everyone scattered, Shu must recollect the villagers and stop the storm. There's not really much else to the story, basically just having Shu run from level to level collecting a few villagers, saving them, and then moving on until the storm is done. In the end, the story amounts to very little, but it's more than enough excuse to get you from level to level.
In Shu, you'll be running through levels, completing various platforming tasks to get to the end. At the start of the game Shu's abilities are limited to simply jumping and gliding. If you glide into an air stream then you can follow it, allowing you to preform more complicated jumps. The platforming is simple enough, and I found it easy enough to figure out how to advance in levels. Shu was responsive, allowing me to build up a quick flow and get into a real rhythm of constantly hitting jumps one after another.
As you barrel through levels you'll find other villagers. Each villager comes with a power that you can use. Yrb lets you double jump, Okoro lets you run across the water, while Joro lets you slam the ground, destroying barriers below you so you can drop down. Every world gives you two different characters to use, though you only get the same characters for every world and you don't get to select after the fact. It's a bit of a shame worlds don't have multiple paths to let you experiment but it's instead designed to make a single refined experience.
This design choice at least helps makes levels exciting. While swiftly running along and chaining together jumps and glides and abilities to make it to the end as fast as possible is always encouraged, you can explore most levels at your own pace. Early sections let you experiment with powers to figure out how to use them with easy challenges you have to try to fail. As you move on in levels you'll get more complicated situations to challenge how good you are at activating and utilizing the powers. Shu features a sort of generous checkpoint system that gives you six lives from each checkpoint to get through a section, only giving you a game over if you fail that section several times. It helps make the toughest sections a little more doable for platforming novices.
You are running from a storm, however, and sometimes it catches up to you. Always introduced with a threatening lightning burst and the words "run" flashing on the screen, warning you that you'll have to move quicker to avoid the wall of death coming for you. These sections are usually the end-world final challenge, putting your platforming to the ultimate test. The storm itself actually feels threatening as well, with many hands reaching out from the clouds for Shu, its creepy face occasionally snapping at you in attempts to swallow you whole.
After you finish the game, which won't take very long as it maybe only took me three hours tops, you can replay levels with a new "Goo Shu" times for you to beat. You can also replay levels to grab all the collectibles, with each level having several hundred butterflies, five babbies, and a mural piece for you to find. How much you want to do this is almost entirely going to depend on how into speedrunning, collectible gathering, and trophy earning you are. It can extend the life of the game for some, but if you're not into those things then Shu won't offer more past its three hours.
Shu is a nice looking game too. It uses a 2.5d style, with characters being hand drawn while the backgrounds are 3D. The game has a good art style, which is really what carries it. Each location is imaginative, offering up new visuals for you to take in. Shu's soundtrack is rather forgettable, and after finishing the game I couldn't remember any of the themes from it.
I went into Shu not knowing too much about it, but this platformer is rather delightful. Filled with fun challenges and interesting segments, Shu can easily be enjoyed both by casual platformer fans and someone looking for their next game to speedrun and exploit. I just wish it was a little longer.
Shu was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PlayStation Vita and PC via Steam.
Shu's platforming is well made and intense, leading to a fun game that speed runners and casual platform fans alike can enjoy. It's just a little on the short side.(Review Policy)
- Well Made Platforming
- Fun Powers
- Intense Storm Segments
- Pretty Graphics
- Extremely Short
- Forgettable Soundtrack
- Followers Locked to Specific Levels