The Nintendo brand is no stranger to outstanding platform games. The Japanese behemoth practically defined the standards for this type of game and the Switch feels like a natural home to so many great examples of this genre. Now Shu joins this litany of great indie titles in the Nintendo eShop. This is our Shu review for the Nintendo Switch.
Shu is a charming 2.5D platformer, set in a world ravaged by an apocalyptic storm. Developed by Coatsink and Secret Lunch, Shu first made its way to Steam during October 2016. Now, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PS Vita owners can also chase the storm. This charming adventure stands out among its rivals with a hand-drawn aesthetic, full of pastel cells and soft lines. It makes for a refreshing change from the blistering assault of primary colors plastered throughout so many indie titles.
Instead of a falling back on a procedural pattern of pointless platforms, Shu takes a more traditional approach to level design. In among the Warbler Woods and Vulture Cliffs, a carefully crafted amalgamation of ledges, levers, and blind leaps all combine to create an experience that feels decidedly fresh. Several zones, generally consisting of three levels, are available to explore. Each of these presents a unique experience and has more than enough environmental variety to keep players engaged. Watching medieval statues crumble or gorgeous stained glass platforms shatter while Shu and company traverse the obstacles in their way is great fun and imbues each zone with a very particular identity.
Even the mechanical construction of zones, from the twilight of Skylark to the cubist influences in City of Eagles, shows incredible attention to detail. Collectible butterflies decorate each of these maps, enticing players to follow a range of prescribed routes through the world, some of which rely on Shu’s ability to ride jet streams. These air currents usher the protagonist across the map with a sudden boost of speed. Like sending sonic spiraling through green hill zone, this mechanic effectively builds momentum and accompanies a number of other additional abilities. Rescuing refugees from the oncoming storm grants players an interesting range of additional options. As Shu evacuates these villagers, double jumping, walking on water, and wall jumping produce new ways to get to safety that keep the game engaging but are absolutely necessary to avoid the impending storm.
After tearing through Shu’s village, this entity will not abate easily. While players are busy acclimating to new horizons or getting to grips with a movement skill, the storm will reappear. Depicted by a gaping set of teeth, this purple monstrosity practically swallows the screen. It bears down on Shu, blotting out the light and threatening to devour everything in its path. It is a great opponent for this title. Unable to fight this force of nature means players can only run or die. As one o the most original parts of this title, it forces players to master their movement abilities and continues to build on that great feeling of momentum.
Thankfully, Shu is not unreasonably punishing. Checkpoints are plentiful, and making it far enough to trigger a checkpoint totem will reset Shu’s five lives. Even when a game over is achieved, an individual zone might reset, but players otherwise retain their progress. It’s a fantastic way to experience Shu for the first time, but with plenty of time under my belt, I’m starting to crave something more significant than a time challenge.
The end of each level presents players with their time taken, butterflies gathered, and secrets uncovered. The game emphasizes personal challenge as the reason to return to the wild, but I wouldn’t mind a few more game modes. Still, there are actually few things that Shu could improve upon in my opinion. While The Refuge, released on the PS Vita, is not present this does not impact gameplay and the Switch version of this title is far superior to its previous mobile incarnation. The team at Coatsink has optimized this title, making excellent use of the Switch’s power. If you were disappointed by the pace of Sonic Forces and absolutely love games like Rayman Legends, then this game will have you hooked. Shu is out now in the Nintendo eShop.
Final Shu Review Score: 8/10
+ Great graphics
+ incredibly responsive
+ lots of variety
– a bit short
– limited play modes