Review – Shu

Booting up Shu for the first time was a pleasant experience. I knew very little about it before playing it on the Switch, and I was greeted with a gorgeous introduction showcasing everything I needed to know about the game without a single line of dialogue.

Friendship is magic

Shu is a 2.5D platformer that reminded me a lot of the first Rayman, as well as, weirdly, enough, the Tarzan game for the PS1 and Nintendo 64. Every single background and level asset is polygonal and tridimensional, while all the characters are 2D and hand-drawn. This is exactly where the game shines: Shu is simply beautiful to look at. The animations are crisp, the levels are well-designed (even if not that varied) and every single character is cuter and more adorable than the previous one.

Not only do you control Shu, the main character, but you can also control other characters who keep holding your hand throughout the levels. They act as “power-ups” of sorts; while you can’t properly control them independently, each new character provides you with a new little power like a ground pound, the ability to open and close flower platforms, and so on. Those powers are only useful for a couple of levels, though, as you’ll get a new set of buddies to work with at the beginning of each new chapter.

Shu is so adorable

For the most part, Shu is actually a very calm and relaxing platformer. You barely see enemies onscreen, and the game provides you with tons of checkpoints and means to redo a section in case you fail a jump. The soundtrack also helps add to this calming atmosphere. Things change quickly, however, when you reach the end of the final level for each chapter, as the super calm and laid back Shu instantly becomes a tense and severely challenging chase game, with an evil entity trying to eat you. You’ll die on these sections a lot, not only due to the sudden difficulty spike, but also due to another issue. . .

Shu‘s controls are simple and easy to learn, but they’re also flawed. All you can do is run, jump, glide, and perform some extra special moves, depending on who’s your current buddy. So far, so good. When you’re doing a regular level, there’s little tension and you can do everything with ease. You’re free to look for all the hidden objects in each level, with very few occasions in which quick reflexes are required. When you’re running away from that immense evil spirit, on the other hand, things get a bit more complicated. For some reason, whenever you need to be fast and precise, the controls occasionally don’t work. Just like that. Need to glide through an air stream then quickly open up a flower platform and then perform three fast jumps? You’ll be able to do it, no worries, but only after a few tries due to control nuisances.

If you see this, chances are you’re probably dead

In the end, Shu was a very decent platforming experience. I can’t say that it felt like something new or innovative, nor can I say that I’ll remember it for years to come, but it was a good game with solid graphics, a great art style, and an adorable protagonist, sadly plagued by somewhat unresponsive controls in more tense moments. If you miss playing a game like the classic 2D Rayman titles, then Shu is a good call for you.

Graphics: 8.5

Without a doubt, Shu‘s best aspect. The hand-drawn character models and the polygonal backgrounds are really well-made.

Gameplay: 6.5

Despite the simple control scheme, there are moments in which the buttons simply don’t respond to your commands.

Sound: 7.0

Shu features a nice soundtrack, even though few tracks stood out.

Fun Factor: 7.0

A fun platformer which features some unnecessarily challenging sections due to some control issues. The game is also a tad short.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Reviewed on Switch.
Also available on: PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC
Copy of Shu provided by publisher.