All the way from Sunderland UK, comes Coatsink Software and Secret Lunch, indie studios with a lot of fervor to create and bring an awesome platformer to the indie games scene. Shu was exactly that for those studios and I had the chance to try it out so that I can tell you about it. In a world where Shu is trying to heroically save all of his friends and escape the oncoming darkness, you, the player, is the only thing that can help him accomplish that feat by guiding Shu through a platforming experience. Let’s enter little Shu’s world together and explore a bit deeper though.
What the company tried to achieve with the game is very close to what we see in its final result and that is a very well made platformer game that provides a good challenge for both casual and speedrunning players out there. Throughout the game, we get to travel to five different places, each with its own three unique levels and two characters to unlock. The characters we unlock are pretty much the very essence of the game, since they give us new abilities to use every time one of them join us. Shu only has the ability to jump and glide through the air, but recruiting his friends allows him to do a whole lot more.
As we play the game, it becomes quite apparent that the gameplay focuses mostly on teaching us every new ability we get and then learning to further combine it with everything else we know. This is quite interesting, especially in the last few levels where we get to revisit all of those abilities one by one, forcing us to remember and use everything we learnt in the past on elevating levels of difficult obstacles in our path. This element of the game is enough on its own to make it interesting and different from our standard platformer. When we interviewed Jonathan Wilson of Coatsink, he told us himself that this is one of the things that makes Shu stand out, the fact that you do not possess a “double jump” for example through the entirety of the game. You have to basically adapt to every new situation.
Talking about things other than its gameplay though, is rather easy. The game exhibits a masterfully designed graphic environment that makes it even more interesting overall. You never get tired of looking at the pretty environments and the characters have such a nice flow to them that you never feel as if you are playing a platformer with clunky movement. That weird feeling that you would usually get from standing at the edge of a platform in one of those games, is something that Shu gets past by being so well designed in that aspect.
The music is also quite good. I say just “quite good” because although it is not something extraordinary, it manages to blend in nicely with the rest of the theme that every area has to show us. Even more so, when the big baddy is chasing us, everything just comes together so perfectly that it is hard not to feel just a little bit stressed while running away from him. Both music and sound effects play an important role in mixing everything together in Shu’s case.
The game however has a beginning and an end. You would ask yourself “why is that bad?” but quickly enough, once you are finished with the game you realize that other than the collectibles and the perfect runs that you can perform, there is not much else to it. The developers did say that they intended it to be a game worth speedrunning and it really is that. But other than that, there is no endgame content to keep a player that is not interested in getting top place on a global times leaderboard. Revisiting old stages may just not be ideal for all sorts of players and unfortunately the game is limited if you see it from that point of view.
Price-wise, it can easily be said that the game’s price does match the expectations of a platformer fan. It might not be abundant in content, but what we do get for the price is very well done and also very well worth our time. My favourite thing in the game was probably the nice flow of the characters as well as the unique cartoony theme that it has. There were plenty of awesome cinematics but the kid inside me kept asking for more.
As already mentioned, we had the chance to interview Jonathan Wilson of Coatsink during a livestream on Twitch. You can check out the full interview below.
You can find Shu on Steam for the price of 11,99€.
What Shu does is very much like most other platformers but only better in what it strived to achieve. This comes in the form of gameplay with a good flow and a world full of good music and aesthetic graphics. Be it that you are a speedrunner or just an indie games fan, this game definitely deserves your time for a full playthrough. The lack of even more content is probably the only reason why I rate it a bit lower than I normally would.
+ Graphic and aural awesomeness
+ Perfect flowing characters in-game
+ Interesting and fun platforming challenges
+ Good speedrunning game
– Short in duration, lack of endgame content
Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis