Side-scrolling titles lately have had sort of a revamp, with the likes of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and Dead Cells receiving incredible critical acclaim for their simplicity yet effectiveness. This could be the reason why a number of developers have diverted their attention to these 2D platforming titles, in hopes of nailing the next best hit of 2020 and raise to stardom.
One such side-scroller is Shing! from Mass Creation studios. Shing! is basically a 2D hack-and-slash where there are no complicated combos or difficult key sequences as your only weapon is your mouse! That’s right, you only need to spam that left click button as fast as possible to engage in a barrage of attacks to kill opponent after opponent. That is probably the mechanic which sets Shing! apart from similar platformers, as it is honestly quite a fun one.
The direction in which you point your mouse also affects the nature of the attack, with an on-screen aid to show which direction your mouse is currently pointing towards. Attacking upwards will result in you launching your opponents in the air, Devil May Cry style, with you following behind them for airborne combos. Aiming your attacks forward will obviously mean you will slash in front of you, so any enemies unlucky enough to be on the other end are in for a good beating. Pointing downwards will hit grounded opponents, so after an airborne juggle you can keep on pummeling enemies to inflict as much damage as possible.
We have talked about the left mouse button, but right-clicking is also important in the game as it is probably just as important. The right-click is the block button, and timing with enemy attacks results in parries, which is vital in dispatching some types of enemies. As good as an airborne juggle feels, nothing matches parrying an opponent at the perfect time to then release a counter slash which is more damaging than normal attacks.
There are even some challenge rooms which you can find hidden throughout the levels and a particular one is to defeat all enemies by using counter-attacks. I quite enjoyed that one as all enemies are at 1-hit kill range, so one parry will kill them. There are other hidden challenge levels throughout, so be careful not to miss any as these give out rewards such as alternate skins for your playable characters.
Another interesting mechanic of the game is that there are powerups in the form of orbs which enemies drop once killed. These pickups can range from the ability to shoot lightning instead of normal attacks to dropping bombs when dashing about. There are also health orbs which, obviously, replenish your hit points, so basically your enemies are, as Raiden in Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance puts it, “walking vending machines.”
Some enemies require you to pick up certain items, for example, the lightning bolts are required to remove shields off of electric type enemies to then finish them off with normal attacks, so these orbs’ importance is quite high apart from simply being cool powerups.
Let us then come to the unfortunate story of Shing! I have not been able to make much of it honestly, as it is a really cringe experience to go through any dialogue scene within the game. The characters all feel like they have one personality split through the four playable characters you can choose from, with none feeling like anything decent.
The corny humour and attempted jokes are what you’d expect from a salty 14-year old screaming through his headset on Xbox Online, to say the least. I mean, “the ladies call me Big Willy.” Seriously now?
Reviving a character after they’ve been defeated is a simple F press and they magically come back to action, without so much as some effects or anything. In a game where you control four characters interchangeably, I imagine you eventually get “close” to a particular one given your progression through the story, but this game is anything but.
You basically choose who to play with depending solely on looks, with not a second thought given to personality because, guess what, they do not have any. The only difference between the characters is the different counter-attack from parry, but given how well that was implemented, the attention was probably better devoted elsewhere.
Summing it up, Shing is a 2D experience which is fun for a brainless playthrough but is definitely not worth the attention of sitting through the story. The characters are remarkably unremarkable, and the story even more so. Its saving grace is the surprisingly fun slashing mechanics and combat depth, as that is an area in which the game truly excels in.
If you really like the game from trailers and previews I suggest you go for it, but if you’re hanging in the balance, I’d say wait for a sale on the aforementioned Dead Cells or Bloodstained, which are truly amazing titles for little more money.
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