Shu is one of my favourite platform games of recent years.
I've revisited the game a few times since it first released on PS4 back in October 2016, and every time I do, it reaffirms my belief — nay, the cold, hard fact — that Shu is as lovely a 2D platform game as we could ever hope for. Forget your Marios and your Sonics and your Raymen — this little caped bird-looking fellow is where it's at.
This week, developer Coatsink has released Shu on Nintendo Switch — the new home for indies, it would seem. And while the eShop is quickly becoming flooded with endless ports of games we've already played before on PS4, Xbox or PC, Shu is one that definitely deserves revisiting.
While Shu reviewed pretty well when it first released — a respectable Metascore of 77 on PS4 and 85 on PC — it never quite got the fanfare it deserved. Indie games are easily overlooked, especially ones in a genre occupied by so many big franchises. That's always a shame; especially so in this case. Hopefully now it's on Switch, it'll attract some new attention.
Here's what I had to say about the game in my original review:
"Shu is the ultimate benchmark in what an indie game can be. Games made in a small studio with a small budget are often tainted with a stigma of being sub-par just because they weren't made under AAA conditions. Let Shu be an example to contest that. With perfect controls, a unique and totally enthralling gameplay system and a gorgeous visual style absolutely dripping with charm, Shu is undoubtedly the best platform game of recent years – AAA or otherwise."
15 months later, all 100% true.
If you're not familiar with Shu, it's a 2D platform game set in a gorgeous world threatened by a devastating storm. Playing as the titular Shu, it's up to you to outrun the storm, collecting pick-ups and hidden collectables as you go. On your journey, you'll encounter new friends with unique abilities who'll help you reach your goal. Shu can glide over wide gaps, for example, but teaming up with his friends will grant you their abilities, too — whether it be ground-stomping to break through unstable platforms, slowing down time or double-jumping.
As the game progresses, levels get trickier, and reaching the end generally requires the skillful use of each character's special ability. Timing and practice is important, as to cross just one particularly troublesome gap you might need to utilise three or four different skills, all with well-timed button presses.
Even after playing the game three or four times though, the most striking part of Shu for me is its visuals and audio. A gorgeously-animated 2D world is both beautiful and perilous, and it perfectly suits the tone of the game. The audio is perfectly balanced too, with a beat that continuously sets the tone between calmer moments and more fraught sections.
And while playing on a bigger screen makes it easier to appreciate all that visual beauty, something has to be said for the ease of access and portability that the Switch brings to the game. Sure, Shu has been available on PS Vita since last year, but the Switch's bigger screen and wider reach makes it a much better home. Having now played the game on Switch, I'm not sure I'll play it any other way. It's right there every time I need a quick fix; as sharp, beautiful and responsive as it ever has been.
If you're fond of a little bit of side-scrolling platform action and need something new on your Switch, Shu is the perfect companion. For the price of £7.69/$9.99, you really can't get much better.