When I first saw Shu i didn’t know what to expect from it. It looked like a unique title, but it had been so overlooked when it launched for the Switch. I was worried that it may have been overlooked for a good reason. After playing through Shu, I can say that Shu is a hidden gem on the Switch. It’s a game, that I think, deserves a little more exposure.
Gliding Through The Air
Shu is a 2.5D platformer, created by Coatsink Software, that sees you playing as a bird-like creature named Shu who is on a mission to rid the world of the evil storm that destroyed his village. The story of the game is pretty light, which makes sense in a platforming game. The world is comprised of 5 different lands, with each land having between 3 and 4 different levels. Shu plays like many other 2D platformers – jumping across platforms, and dodging traps. He also has the ability to glide, which allows his to slow his decent after jumping, or even ride wind-gusts during some platforming segments.
What makes Shu more unique than the average 2D platformer are the characters you recruit along the way. Every level has a few characters who are also seeking refuge from the storm. Once you have found these characters, they give you different abilities that will help you progress through the level’s obstacles. Some of these abilities include walking on water, and the ability to crush breakable obstacles. The different abilities really helped diversify Shu’s gameplay. Without them, Shu would have felt too generic, even if you only get to use each characters abilities for a short amount of time.
A Change of Pace
Sometimes, during a level, the storm will start to chase after you, and the game changes pace. This forces you to speed up your platforming unless you want to be swallowed up by the storms wrath. These segments were entertaining, and got my blood pumping, but they could also be really frustrating as well.
Shu feels like a game more built towards taking your time, especially because the controls can be too floaty at times. Mixing the floaty controls with these fast paced platforming segments makes for some very frustrating platforming parts. It only took a handful of tries to finish most of these parts, but there were a few that I found posed an unfair challenge.
One great thing about Shu is it’s fairly frequent checkpoints. Shu has a well made checkpoint system where, once you reach a checkpoint, it replenishes all 5 of your lives. You might think this makes the game too easy, but I found the game was still quite difficult. Especially in the later levels. The challenge in Shu is good and I was happy it wasn’t too easy, but it can be irritating because of the controls during the faster segments.
Save The Babies
Throughout each of Shu’s levels, there are also collectibles you can acquire along your journey if you want to completely finish a level. Each level has a number of baby birds you can save, and stone tablets to collect. Both can usually be found by doing a quick scan of the area, and taking an alternate path before continuing the main part of the level.
The main collectibles are the glowing butterflies which can be found by the hundreds in every level. You need to collect a certain number of butterflies in every level in order to get a golden butterfly rating at the end. If you make any effort to collect them while you’re going through the levels, you’ll manage to get the golden butterfly rating every time. I usually skipped the extra butterflies I could have gotten since it was easy to get enough without taking some of the alternate paths. The collectibles are a nice addition, but they do feel underwhelming to collect because they do nothing except act as a collectible.
Time Flies, but Can You?
Shu isn’t a very long game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I finished the game in a little over 5 hours and I even missed a couple of the baby birds in some of the levels. You may get a bit more time out of Shu if you’re goal is to collect all of the collectibles, although it doesn’t do a good job at pushing you to do it.
The last thing Shu has to offer are the time trials for each level that open up after you have beaten them. Time trials are great, but Shu’s floaty controls don’t make it easy during it’s fast-paced chase segments, and they make the time trials kind of a hassle as well. The time trials do add some replayability to the levels, but your mileage may vary. All in all, the length of the game was satisfying, and felt pretty reasonable.
A Beautiful Storm
Shu’s visuals are really well-crafted, and are one of the greatest parts of the game. Each of the lands are well designed, and look absolutely stunning. While Shu offers fun gameplay, the world is really what will make you want to take part in it’s adventure. Shu has an alluring world that will captivate you. It’s an art style that I honestly feel I have never seen in any other game. With the gorgeous world also comes amazing technical performance. Throughout Shu, I never had a noticeable frame rate drop, and the resolution stays consistent in both handheld and docked mode.
Overall, Shu is a great little 2D platformer that does a good job at differentiating itself from others in the genre. The graphics are breath taking, and the core gameplay is fun. The floaty controls, irritating fast paced segments, and a lack of inspiration to collect its collectibles holds this game back from being one of the top contenders in the genre. Problems aside, it’s a good game that I think fans of the genre should definitely give a shot.
7/10 Recommended 2D PlatformerA frustrating, and whimsical adventure.
- Fun core gameplay with unique mechanics
- Beautiful graphics, and a breathtaking world
- Good length of gameplay
- Floaty Controls
- Faster platforming segments are frustrating
- Collectibles have no use except collecting them for the sake of completion.
- Intense difficulty spike in the later levels.