Monday, June 12, 2017

Review Shu

Rayman Origins was the third ever Vita game I picked up, and I still enjoy a burst of the mad French platformer. Coatsink's Shu feels very much in the same vein, with a strange cast of friends helping you along, and imbuing the titular character with special skills. Shu's job is to defeat some dark lord and find plenty of goodies, as you explore and race through a charming world afflicted by some evil power.

Every level is packed with secrets, tricks and traps that delight or annoy, depending on how well-secreted they, or if a good pixel turns out to be a bad one. That's especially when you are being chased through the level at 60fps by the dark demon that blights the land, or some of the trickier obstacles that create the main part of Shu's challenge.

Otherwise, Shu is a sometimes beautifully placid, sometimes challenging world to explore. Perfecting those new moves, looking for the telltale hint of a secret area, and wondering what happens if you jump off "just there". Levels can track back on each other, take a vertical turn and include multiple little pathways through. At the start, it is easy to misread a rock or branch and screw up, but there are plenty of totems that act as restart points and refill your five lives.

Later levels see most routes break down into a series of fixed steps and actions that you have to master, using the various skills. If your hand-eye coordination isn't that hot, this can become very annoying, and there's rarely a plan B to get around it. Mixing floating through the air, wall jumping, bashing through blocks, dipping into the water or taking a ride on a gondola, there's plenty to experiment with. But, the gaps between fun exploring and mountainous challenge feel rather uneven.

Even so, the bulk of the game is a pitch perfect joy to behold and root around in, with a timed challenge mode to compare your efforts against PSN friends.

The Vita version benefits from a special hub, The Refuge, where you get to meet your comrades in more pleasant circumstances. You can practices moves, and view art and other treasures from the developers over time as more sections open up.

Shu is super-stylish with its hand-drawn folk against eerie, shiny, gorgeous pastel or shadowy backdrops. There's lots of fun, plus a bit of a trophy fest without the grind, all of which makes it another great indie to add to your Vita's roster.

Score: 8/10
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Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Size: 1.8GB
Dev: Coatsink
Progress: Trophy vulture

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