The storm has already taken your village. Will you survive and find a way to stop it from destroying everything? This is the plot of Shu, where you control a character of the same name in his journey to outrun the end of the world. While the game’s art and music are clearly a step in the right direction, the real variable for this platformer is the gameplay.
Shu is a side-scrolling adventure where you start out controlling one character but also meet 10 others along the way. Each of them have their own powers and abilities, and they conveniently join your party just when you need them. Your ultimate goal, as stated earlier is to find sanctuary but also stop the incoming storm. So, you must use everyone’s abilities to traverse each of the 21 levels across six worlds.
First of all, the music and graphics do a great job of creating a compelling atmosphere of both intrigue and survival. There are levels that allow you to explore and enjoy, while others are frantic and you barely have enough time to look at the next thing, let alone the entire world around you. All along, though, the soundtrack and art-style match so well to never distract but always enhance the adventure. In fact, I often felt quite lonely, especially in the levels where I was on my own. The look and feel certainly helped me connect with how Shu probably felt as he ran for his life, unsure of what or who was around the next corner.
The only downside to the graphics I could tell was that sometimes it was not entirely clear where you could or could not jump. Honestly, though, this rarely happened. The times where it became a nuisance, though, was when I found myself in part of a level requiring quick thinking and precision jumping. Many times, it would take me at least two or three tries to know exactly where I could jump to make it through the quickest.
Speaking of those fast-moving levels, they are what threw me off. A good portion of the game, you can explore as slow as you want, moving through each level at your own pace. Then, out of nowhere, something starts heading your way, and you must dash as quick as possible to avoid it. While this is not bad, in and of itself, I felt it messed with the pacing of the game. Maybe it was done to simulate just how it could be if you were actually Shu trying to survive, but I don’t really know. Honestly, if there was a deadly storm coming, my guess is that I would need to be running constantly. Being able to spend a ton of time in one place and then run for my life a second later just didn’t make sense, and I often found myself dying from not being ready for it.
Overall, though, the game was fun and challenging, especially with the balance of using abilities for both platform jumping and solving the puzzle elements. I rarely found myself thinking the game was too simple or challenging, as the developers have found a happy medium that few games see today. All the collectibles and secrets helped give depth and replayability, too, as once I beat a level but didn’t collect everything, I instantly wanted to try it again to find all I had missed.
If you are a fan of platformers, I recommend picking up Shu. It’s certainly not perfect, but the good definitely outweighs the bad. It won’t take you too long to beat, either, which should also give you some great feelings of accomplishment without having to sink in 100 hours of gameplay. However, the collectibles and secrets will also keep you coming back for more well after you have completed the main game.
MSRP: $9.99 US
RATING: E for Everyone
OBTAINED: Code provided by developers/publishers for press purposes
GAMEPLAY VIDEOS FROM FIRST 3 LEVELS: