Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a review code supplied to me by the game’s developer/publisher . This is reported for transparency with our readers and will not affect my review.
Shu is a beautifully styled side-scrolling platformer that follows the adventure of a small bird creature named Shu. It’s a very simple game, but does that mean that you shouldn’t play this game? Not at all.
The story of Shu is something that isn’t ever told through speech, but one you can still understand nonetheless. The game has a cinematic just before the main menu that tells the story to the player. The cinematic shows an elder sitting on a cliff on the outskirts of a village. He warns Shu of an approaching storm that will bring rain and havoc to their village. Well this storms ears must have been burning because as soon as he is mentioned by the elder, he appears.
This storm is different though. It has a mouth and teeth, and looks genuinely scary. It turns out this storm is also some form of creature. The elder tries to take the storm creature on. He has the villagers flee while he takes the weather beast on and manages to hold off the creature long enough for the villagers to flee, sacrificing himself to do so.
In the cinematic the elder tells Shu of a statue, once that it’s safe to assume will slay said storm beast. The rest of the game sees Shu travelling through the land to reach the aforementioned statue.
Let’s start with the map. The game is split into several areas. The majority of these areas have three levels (except some which have just two) and each come with their own challenges. Each area also has it’s own companions. These companions are Shu’s fellow villagers that fled the storm beast. Each companion gives Shu an extra ability. These include; double jump, dash, the ability to run on water amongst others. At the end of each area these new friends are transported away in a hot air balloon, taking their powers with them.
Then there’s the games checkpoint system. Throughout each level are small statues that activate when you run past them. Shu has five lives in each level, and running through a checkpoint resets your lives back to five. This is especially nice when you are low on lives being chased by storm beast and have just 1 life left. You run past a checkpoint and boom; lives reset. On paper (or screen if you wish to be technical) this sounds a bit hit and miss, but it’s a nice addition to the game when you realise that you will die in Shu; quite often.
The gameplay of the game is extremely simple. As I said before it is a side-scrolling platformer, and it doesn’t really deviate away from this formula. As always with platformer games it’s the obstacles in the world which cause the issues. One companion has the ability to cause flowers to bloom or debloom. It gets tricky when you have to jump from flower to flower, hitting X then O then X and so on. It becomes very easy to mistime a jump, or even forget to hit the O button meaning the flower doesn’t bloom and you will fall to your death. That is just one example of the many things that the game throws your way. However it never gets tedious, it never feels dry. Especially when you add the storm beast into the mix.
That’s right our old friend is still poking around. At certain points in some of the levels the background music will be interrupted with a loud clap of lightning and the word “Run!” appearing on screen. Then the tension begins. The storm beast is hot on your heels and you still have to navigate through the obstacles the game throws at you. You are never certain when it will happen, which adds to the atmosphere of the game. The gameplay never gets tedious and, while nothing particularly new in the world of platform games, is fun to play from start to finish.
Shu does offer some form of replayability. Each level has a number of collectables that you can get and getting all of these, in addition to collecting every butterfly in the level, will award the player a golden award meaning that level has been completed 100%. There are also online leaderboards that show how quickly you completed each level in comparison to other Shu players. Personally I am not one to collect everything in a game, but I can certainly see how this adds replayability to the game for those players who enjoy that.
The graphics of the game are the first thing you notice. The artstyle is very cute and charming, and instantly drew me in. I honestly could not find any faults with the graphics of Shu. The same goes for the audio. Everything sounds exactly as it should. Nothing sounds out of place.
To sum up, I love this game. The artstyle, the gameplay, the tension of being chased by storm beast. Brilliant. I highly recommend Shu to those of you who enjoy platformer games. The game is currently £9.49 on the PlayStation Store. It’s worth it, I promise.