Shu Review: Run For Your Life
Kalvin Martinez / Oct 28th, 2016 No Comments
It seems like every innovation for the platforming genre has been done, and because of this, it is difficult for new platformers to make an impression on its players. As a result, games in the genre tend to tread on nostalgia or insane difficulty. However, some developers manage to create unique platformers.
Shu feels fresh and breaks new ground in platforming. Thanks to clever gameplay mechanics, varied level design and a stiff challenge, Shu shows there is still some room for innovation in the platforming genre.
Keeping Ahead of Oblivion
It was a normal day in the village, or so everyone thought. Except for your grandfather. He knew what was coming. The end of it all.
When the monstrous storm shoved up, the old man sacrificed himself to buy you and the rest of the villagers time to run. And you have been running ever since.
The running hasn’t been frivolous. No, you must make it to the village end while saving as many villagers as possible along the way. You also have to stay one step ahead of the storm.
The protagonist has a base set of moves that are the backbone of the game. He can run, jump and glide. Gliding allows him to hover gently across the screen and over gaps, but also allows him to ride wind currents to reach new heights. Getting familiar with the basics is important because they’ll help keep you one step ahead of the storm.
Running in Shu has purpose. You’re not simply moving through levels for the sake of it. The game is broken up into five different areas with individual sections to get through. The first part typically involves rescuing lost villagers and using their abilities to help make it through the rest of the area. After a while, you’ll have to outrun the storm, and that’s when things get exciting.
Every area has one or two parts where you literally have to outrun the storm. Levels are peaceful, then suddenly the screen will flash and “RUN” will quickly appear, heralding the storm’s quick and ferocious appearance. Once the storm arrives, you have no time to think. If you fall behind, you and any villagers in your care will die.
Levels become a mad dash when the storm hits, forcing players to utilize base skills and the skills of the villagers to keep as far ahead of the storm as possible. When outrunning the storm, true tests of skill come in the form of gathering collectibles. Can you stay out of the storm’s maw while rescuing chicks and grabbing golden butterflies? You probably won’t be able to the first time. You’ll be too concerned with survival.
The levels in Shu are meant to be finished quickly with an eye toward replaying them. A second or subsequent playthrough can be used to discover missed collectibles and record a faster time. Speedrunning is an important aspect of the game, and improving your time will become a main focus for players. Levels are designed with multiple paths and shortcuts so there are plenty of ways to cut down your time.
Shu’s level design is fantastic. Each different area is unique from one another. There are core challenges central to each one, but every time the setting changes, new twists are introduced.
The forest area is filled with timing challenges, while the ruins switches up the formula by introducing objects that fall from the sky. All of these different challenges keep gameplay varied and interesting.
Every villager in the game has a unique ability that is extremely helpful in the area where they are located. Challenges in levels are designed to take advantage of these abilities.
Early on in the game, the protagonist has to use his abilities in addition to a villager who has the power to make flowers bloom and wither at will. Players must use both abilities in order to move forward. Making things trickier, you may even have to use your base abilities and the abilities of two villagers to move forward.
The most challenging part of Shu is when you need to outrun the storm while keeping in mind the different abilities you must use to overcome challenges. It results in a beautifully chaotic symphony where you have to jump, glide, bloom flowers, walk on water, charge ahead, ground pound and more all while staying ahead of the storm. The novelty of the abilities results in a healthy challenge.
While Shu is difficult at times, it doesn’t revel in punishing players. The point of the challenge is to push players to think smartly about the best way to get through levels and combine different abilities.
Shu is a delightful platformer with great level design and unique platforming mechanics. The art style is beautiful, with a wonderful contrast of 3D backgrounds and minimalistic 2D sprites. Both work together to give the game a great visual pop.
If you give Shu a shot, it may surprise you.
Shu was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code for the game provided by the developer.
tags: Coatsink Games , ps4 , ps4 review , review , Shu