Shu Nintendo Switch review: I’m free as a bird now

Credits: Coatsink Studio
Credits: Coatsink Studio /

Shu is a charming 2.5D platformer where players take on the role of a cute little bid named Shu who just wants to explore the world around them.

Developer: Coatsink Software, Secret Lunch
Publisher: Coatsink Software
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: January 23, 2018

In recent days, it seems that 2D and 2.5D platformers are becoming a big deal once more. The End is NighCupheadHue, and even The Sun and Moon attest to the fact that fans still love this style of game. The best come with their own unique narrative focus and acknowledge that each character isn’t just a face on the screen, but serves as a unique part of the games overarching story. And this is where our newest title from developers Secret Lunch and Coatsink, Shu, comes into play.

For fans of retro platformer titles, Shu will help you remember just why you love them. Just like in traditional platformers, jumping over spikes and barely missing them by a single inch isn’t just fun. It’s exhilarating. But even more exhilarating are the mechanics of using Shu’s friend(s) for their unique abilities as you explore the world Shu lives in.

Credits: Coatsink Studio
Credits: Coatsink Studio /

It’s hard not to compliment the game from the start. Whether it’s the soft dust particles sweeping in the about, the wind currents for Shu to glide upon or the small hidden birds you must collect: Shu is an extremely polished and gorgeous game. Frame rates are smooth, never dropping in one place or another regardless of being in handheld mode or docked. Additionally, the game’s sound is fantastic. Soft, melodic songs are accented quietly by ambient atmospherics and the soft patter of Shu and his friends’ feet as they adventure through every level.

Shu’s abilities are plain and simple: all he can do is simply jump and glide using his wings. His glide is uplifted by the ability to use wind currents that can be spotted through the course of each map, carrying him from one destination to the next. Early on, he’s alone. But within a good 10-15 minutes of gameplay, Shu is joined by a few of his friends, who will hold hands in one of the most charming animations I’ve ever seen as they journey together.

Credits: Coatsink Studio
Credits: Coatsink Studio /

You’ll gain abilities to dash through the air, slow down time, double jump, open and close platforms you can use to proceed through the levels and even bash your way down through pieces of rock and wood blocking your way. Unlike other, similar platformers, your new abilities aren’t displayed by unlocking cosmetic upgrades for your character, but rather by those friends that join your party. But three’s a party, after all, and you’ll have to select which friends you want to take with you through each of the game’s stages.

Players are forced to move constantly and flawlessly as they jump, glide, bounce, and break their way through each of these levels.

Due to this approach, every level felt like a unique experience without any reused or re-imagined ideas from level to level. The game lasts about three hours, but if you were to revisit each level for a full completionist approach, Shu could easily approach the 10-15 hour mark quite easily, and even then, the levels are never dull due to the different party make-ups you can approach them with.

This is because Shu excels at its level design. Whether it’s simply gliding across open areas after bouncing on a cactus or slamming through a few layers of wood only to have to glide slightly over an area so not to fall into a pit of spikes, Shu is just very well-balanced. Notably, there is an absence of enemies or even bosses, but that allows the player to relax and enjoy themselves without stress.

Credits: Coatsink Studio
Credits: Coatsink Studio /

Instead of boss fights, Shu and his friend will encounter a different challenge: the Darkness. These sections are all about testing your skill; they’re all very intense and they are a very well-placed in order to ensure players moments of excitement. Players are forced to move constantly and flawlessly as they jump, glide, bounce, and break their way through each of these levels. These segments provided a stark contrast to how peaceful the rest of the game was. And while much of the rest of the game was laidback and easy, I did have to start over on these levels a few times having not noticed small indications of where I needed to go or how I needed to do so from time to time.

If you’re considering this game for kids, teens or adults, don’t worry; it’s not a hard game. There are frequent checkpoints that fill Shu’s health back to full. But these checkpoints do come with a limited amount of uses. Each one is only good for six lives. Once all six chances are used up, players will need to restart that level in order to get to where they were before. So it is advised to pace yourself. Take your time, don’t worry about rushing through the game. There’s a lot to look forward to and a lot of exploration to do!

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Shu is a beautiful game and it’s not a game I just recommend, it’s a game I urge you to play. It is absolutely charming and can be beaten in a single day, but has a surprising amount of replay value as well. It can be relaxing and easygoing one minute, then test your patience and your ability to pay attention to detail when the time comes. If that’s what you’re up for, then, by all means, let me advise this: Shu stands out as one of the best platformers available on the Nintendo Switch at this time.

Shu. 9. Despite it being a short game outside of its high replay value, <i>Shu</i> is a charming and beautiful 2.5D platformer that has a lot to offer between its calm stages and its more frantic moments. Even on the Nintendo Switch, regardless of the mode you play it in, the game’s graphics are breathtaking, its landscapes are jaw-droppingly well done. <em>Shu</em> stands out even among the many, many other games in its genre and should appeal to almost everyone.. Coatsink Software, Secret Lunch.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.