Developer: Coconut Island Games
Publisher: Coconut Island Games
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Price: $12.99 (additional 20% on PSN through 06/05/2018)
Genre: Platform / Puzzle
Platform: PlayStation 4
Let Shio Light Your Path
Shio is a tale of mystery. It all revolves around a man in a mask. As the narrative develops you will discover more about who this person is. You always have access to a journal full of redacted text. As you discover the secrets of the game, the text is uncovered. It is nothing new to have a mystery that unravels as the player progresses. What makes this tale stand out is that learning the full story is not an easy task.
Speedrunner's Paradise. . . or Purgatory?
Shio is essentially the Dark Souls of platform games. I doubt there is anyone that calls themselves a gamer and has never played a Mario title. Towards the end and in special levels, the platforming gets really tough. Imagine an entire (legal) Mario game like that. This is the core of gameplay in Shio. Rewarding both speed and precision, traversing through the four chapters is challenging, to say the least. Every section has a counter that tells you how many tries it took you to reach it. Each section also has a time to beat set by Gao, one of the story's characters.
No Enemies, no Bosses
There are two major obstacles in Shio. The level design is meant to stop you from progressing. Whether it be skill or muscle memory that gets you through is up to you. Therein lies the second obstacle. Beating the game before it drives you to break your controller is no small task. Fireballs, grinders, searing hot floors and many other dangers await you. Using your magical lantern to jump from one paper lantern to the next is your only hope for survival.
The Most Beautiful Death Trap
The art of Shio immediately captured my attention. The aesthetic reminded me of the classic Legend of Kage arcade game, despite being set in China. Coconut Island Games is based in Shanghai and the rich culture of China birthed the title. Everything from the paper lantern as a travel mechanic to the symbolism in the journal reflects such. Unfortunately, you will zip through levels so quickly (and repeatedly) that you may miss these details. A lot of times the background may just be trees or mountains, but occasionally you get a scene like above. Thankfully, there are also storytelling sections that will give the player an eyeful.
Verdict: Should You Feel the Glow of Shio?
Shio debuted on Steam last year so the PS4 is playing catch-up. PS4 owners should definitely check it out as long as they are prepared for the experience. Shio is not a long game but you may spend a lot of time getting through it. The developer uses the word “brutal” to describe the challenge of later stages. This is the kind of game you give a sigh of relief and feel serious gamer pride when you beat it.
If a tough game does not make you shy away, you cannot go wrong with Shio. Speedrunners will want this in their collection as a YouTube livestream would definitely garner attention. A true platformer joins the PlayStation library as Shio dares you to explore and uncover its secrets. Exposing all the masked man's journal has to offer is a platinum trophy to brag about.