‘Shu’ – The Unique, Beautiful and Magically Nostalgic New Game

Shu is the beautiful hand-drawn 2D platformer that Coatsink (the brain-powers behind  Esper, Esper 2 and Gang Beasts) and Secret Lunch have brought to PC and Playstation 4.

The bittersweet and unique side-scroller brings together Shu and other colourful characters as they outrun the oncoming storm destroying their land, saving sprites along the way – can you outrun the end of the world?

Skatronixxx were lucky enough to interview the creative minds behind Shu at MCM Comic Con in London this year, where they set up a time-trialed demo for people to come and test out the game. Winners walked home with a shirt staring the maniacle grinning storm.

 When asked what inspired this beautiful little world you have to navigate with Shu and the villagers, the answer was unexpected:

“So, basically we had seen an episode of South Park the night before going to the pub with some friends, and it’s the one where the characters have got nits in their hair, and it’s from the perspective of the nits.” Bryn Morrison-Elliot, one of the artists behind the game, laughs. “The characters get some anti-nit shampoo – and from the perspective of the nits you see the shampoo cascading through their hair and they try to outrun it and escape the end of the world as they know it. And it’s this really sort of, sad story.”

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“We just really liked that idea of something that’s quite cute and nice, but it has something bittersweet, so it kickstarted our thoughts of this beautiful and colourful world with these cute characters, but it’s ending. So that kick started the idea for Shu, really.”

Skatronixxx then asked what inspired the characters themselves – in the demo, you see Shu and two friends holding hands, leading each other as they try to outrun the end of their world.

“Obviously Ico, you know? That idea of holding hands and the motif of friendship. And then Sam, who designed the characters – he’d been drawing the bird people in notepads ever since he was a little kid. So we always wanted to do a game with those characters that he had been drawing for years.”

And are they proud of the final outcome that is Shu?

“Absolutely!” Bryn answers.

And so he, and all the other people who worked on this game, should be. Despite the 2-D side scrolling genre existing for years, the design of the game from background to characters are all unique and completely endearing. Toss this in with the fact that most peoples first games are side-scrolling 2D platformers, it makes way for a nostalgic experience as well.

“We did want to tap into that,” Bryn confirms. “A lot of the early reviews said how it made them feel quite nostalgic.”

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“We haven’t gone for any gimmicks – nothing that isn’t necessary. It is just a standard platformer, and it does have elements to it and it’s motif of friendship – it’s just a nice, smooth platformer.”

The huge part of the Time Trial though, which had multiple people (myself included) freaking out was when the game simply gives you one sudden instruction – run. And that’s where the giant, purple storm in the shape of a monster begins to make chase.

“It was good to have this nice, smooth platformer all laid out, but then you have this storm that just makes people crap themselves. Originally, we had it that the storm ate the characters – so, they gave you abilities but if the storm caught up with you, the storm would actually grab one, eat it, and it’d give you time to get away but then you’d lose that person.”

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From Left to Right – Jack Sanderson (PR Manager), Bryn Morrison-Elliot (Artist), Hannah Watts (Artist), Jonathon Wilson (Game Designer)

“We really loved the idea, because it was more of the bittersweet side of Shu. But we found that people just didn’t really enjoy it, because you empower a player by giving them an ability, and all of the sudden you just take that away. So it was kind of sad to get rid of that, but it made the game so much better and more streamlined for it.”

When asked about how MCM Comic Con had been treating Shu, Bryn confirms that the reception has been good from one of the UK’s biggest expos. “Everyone’s been enjoying it, infact lots of people come back, try again, trying to beat the time trial then trying to beat each others times so they can win multiple T-shirts.”

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Shu has proven itself game destined for success – with a diverse, incredibly artistic world filled with sweet and unique little sprites and villages to save, it hits all the right visually appealing factors. Add in the bitter sweet story that you’re constantly trying to outrun, where their world is ending catastrophically, and it becomes more than just an addictive side-scroller to play – it carries amazing depth with it. Suitable for all ages and a game that friends and family can easily enjoy together, Shu is the magical, stunning and original gameplay experience you’re looking for.

Shu is available to play on Playstation 4 and PC via Steam.

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