Game Review: Shu (PS4)

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Every once in a while we bear witness to a truly unique gaming experience; sometimes these are big-budget releases that spend decades within development, such as Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian and Shenmue III, and sometimes some just appear out of nowhere and Shu; but is it any good? Well let’s find out!

shu-cover Title: Shu
Publisher: Coatsink
Developer: Coatsink
Platform: PS4
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Audio: English
Subtitles: English
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (2.3GB)

Our View:

Originally developed by Coatsink and released onto the PC and PS4 during October 2016 Shu is a side-scrolling-platformer that tasks players in aiding a feathered bird creature, known as Shu, in helping other characters escape from the clutches of an ever-pursuing storm. It’s a simple-minded, alost child-like, story and yet it manages to grab your attention due to it’s unique artstyle and simplistic gameplay mechanics.

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Shu, as mentioned, is a side-scrolling runner styled platformer and the objective of the game is to simply reach the end; it’s very simple as all players need to do is assist Shu in jumping (or at times gliding) over obstacles in order to reach the end. To make the experience interesting additional characters, those of which Shu has been tasked of escorting out of the village, can be found and once interacted with new abilities can be obtained for brief periods of time.

Each world, of which several exist, features at least one new character and in turn new abilities can be accessed. The earlier levels see players given the ability to ‘pound’ the ground while later worlds will see abilities such as walking on water being available. Although these abilities add some ‘much needed’ technical exercise to the gameplay they are very short lived; as these abilities are only valid for as long as you are with those characters. Once the task of escorting those characters has been completed you will loose access to those abilities and as such the normal gameplay resumes.

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For the most part the gameplay is simple; by controlling Shu all players need to do is time jumps accurately and avoid obstacles in the way. Of course to make the ‘running’ aspect more entertaining several items are scatted across the level and these include butterfly styled yellow icons and hidden collectables in the form of historical items and miniture characters. The butterflies tend to act as a guide on where you need to go next but a small portion of them will be hidden away and – in some instances – lead players to where the hidden collectables can be located.

These collectables give Shu some additional replay value into the game as while the objective is to get to the end (and in turn escape from the storm) the secondary objective is to collect all of the butterflies and hidden items; to which – at the end of each level – a score will be displayed depending on the number obtained. By replaying the level already collected items will be faded out while undiscovered items will remain active; thus making it easy to get the ever-desired completed ratio.

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That’s not all either; as a third objective has also been implemented; as players are also tasked in completing each level in the fastest possible time with times uploaded to an online leaderboard. Understanding the level, as well as discovering secret routes, will aid players in obtaining that much needed top-spot but be warned its a lot difficult than you might imagine.

Shu’s difficulty comes in part from poor tutorial implementation and lengthy checkpoints as although level design is fair a simple and straight forward tutorial which explains the rules and control inputs is relatively non existent. In most cases I found myself having to take a ‘leap of faith’ in to the unknown for the ‘tutorial prompts’ to appear on screen and even then they appear too late for the average player to respond. Ideally a level designed to inform players of all the inputs should have been made; with prompts then appearing as reminders (as they currently do) throughout the game.

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Despite this controlling Shu is pretty straight forward, as it’s simply moving the analog stick to move Shu and the X button to jump however when new characters are obtained multiple buttons have to be pressed (such as down and X for ground pound or circle to make plants bloom). Once again the control inputs aren’t exactly difficult; its just at times – when you are in a bit of a rush – they can feel a bit clumsy or unresponsive; especially during the later stages of the game or when being chased by the storm.

So what about those checkpoints I mentioned earlier? Well each level features numerous checkpoints so if you die you can respawn at that location. Majority of checkpoints are at respectable distance from one-another but occasionally some checkpoints are further apart than you might imagine. The result of this means that difficult segments of the game, such as a combination of various different abilities and jumps, will more than likely replayed. At first it’s not so bad; but after the fourth of fifth attempt you’ll wish that another checkpoint existed just to make that much easier.

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Shu may seem simplistic and child-like but deep-down it will occasionally give you that frustrating experience that you’d rather forget; majority of which comes from the lack of checkpoints during the later stages. Some may say that the difficult aspects lie in the levels which see you avoid the storm and although they do prove a challenge (as it easily catches up with you) I never became frustrated with it – and even then the checkpoints seem fairly spaced apart.

So what drew us to Shu? It’s simplistic gameplay, it’s one-more-go approach to gaming? No; in fact it was actually the visual style of the game. Shu looks like it jumped right out of a Studio Ghibli film, especially the background artwork and character design, and it’s this design that gives Shu a unique identity and a bit of a charm. It may not win any awards with its ‘game-changing-gameplay’ but it has opened up a special place in my heart game; a simplistic game with a slight challenge and superb visual style and it’s well worth a go!

Score: review-stars-3

Shu is now available to download digitally for the PS4 and PC.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

2 Responses to Game Review: Shu (PS4)

  1. Pingback: Shu PS Vita Release Date Announced Alongside FREE DLC | AnimeBlurayUK

  2. Pingback: PS Vita Release of Shu Delayed; New Content Added to PS4 This Week | AnimeBlurayUK

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