An ominous dark cloud descends upon a peaceful village of birdlike folk, threatening to wipe out their entire village, and scatters the residents across the land. The elder of the village entrusts our hero Shu to locate the lost villagers and fight back against the darkness…and so starts our little hero’s adventure.

Shu is a 2.5D action platformer developed by Coatsink for both Windows (via the Steam store) or PS4. As Shu, you have the ability to jump and glide as you traverse the many platforms and levels, collecting butterflies along the way, and occasionally coming across lost baby birds. As Shu makes his way from level to level he will come across other lost friends, who he will bring along. Each friend that Shu encounters will add a different skill set to help complete the levels. These involve such skills as a double-jump, the ability to open and close flower petals, or to jump from wall-to-wall Ninja Gaiden style.

Save checkpoints are littered throughout the levels, so Shu’s progress is not completely lost should he come to a tragic end (and as Shu you will die…A LOT). Each checkpoint allows you to restart a total of 5 times before having to start the entire level over again. This makes each checkpoint precious, and each restart of a checkpoint more stressful than the last. As you travel from one checkpoint to the next, there is always a sense of the darkness lurking just behind you. There is not a time limit to complete each level, but at some point, near the end of most levels, the darkness will catch you, and a large warning to “RUN” will appear on the screen.

And run you will, the darkness is always nipping at your heels, and a mistimed jump, or a delay in activating a power can mean the difference between life and death. While you are being chased by the darkness, you will come across the familiar save checkpoints, and you will find yourself thanking your lucky stars, every time you cross one.

The graphics are beautiful, a mix of 2D characters and a 3D background make for a 2.5D game experience. It’s colorful, and cute, and reminded me of Ori and the Blind Forest. The background musical score is beautiful, and brings the world to life. The darkness as it arrives, is truly terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time.

As a platforming experience Shu excels. The introduction of diverse characters and their individual skills keeps the gameplay fresh and changes how you approach each obstacle. You’ll find yourself a little bit lost when your companions leave and you are once again stuck with your simple jump and glide tactics. The level design is outstanding, and the generous save checkpoints ensure that while certain areas might become difficult, they never truly reach the level of frustration. There are plenty of butterflies and baby birds to collect, and finishing each level opens it up to compete for the fastest time.

If I only have one complaint, is that the game is short. Even with my subpar platforming abilities I was able to complete the game in about 4 hours. Of course, for those who are completionists or want to compete there is the ability to try to capture every collectible and beat other players times. So, it does lend itself for some replay ability.

Shu, is an incredibly beautiful and solid platformer, suitable for the entire family.

What I liked: Excellent level design, beautiful artwork and sound, variance in abilities as companions join you.

What I liked less: Wish it could have been longer

4.5 out of 5 stars