Shing! is an oddity. Now that it’s time to put my thoughts about the game into words, I’m still not sure where I stand with the game. It’s not bad, but it’s not brilliant. It’s almost bad, but at the same time, it’s almost brilliant.
For starters, Shing! is a story about a group of ninjas trying to save the world from evil demons. It’s not Hollywood (or at least not mainstream Hollywood) and I wasn’t pushing onwards to get the next bit of story. I was actually skipping the cutscenes so I could get back to slashing demons to death. It’s a shame that the story couldn’t pull me in, despite the obvious effort put into getting voice actors and mini cutscenes put together. And they’re well done, too.
The gameplay is solid, and I don’t just mean it’s mechanically sound, but also actually solid. In a strange twist, the combat controls are mostly mapped to the right stick. It’s actually quite slick and while I struggled at first to pull off any decent kind of combo, I was quickly juggling my victims in the air and smashing them down into the ground.
Movement is obviously on the left stick while dodging and blocking are mapped to the triggers. This is a little more standard but I found it to work well with the right-stick combat. Saying that, boy did my thumb get tired flicking that stick around.
You can swap out your characters at any time by using the d-pad, and this is crucial. On normal difficulty, I found I was dying a lot, and so swapping out a low health character for somebody with full health is a handy way to keep the gameplay moving without a game over screen – something I appreciated. And, to be fair, the characters are all worth trying out, too. Each comes with their own weapons and attacks, and it’s nice to change things up.
Even though the combat is cool and basically every 12-year old’s fantasy – young ninjas with pottymouths – it’s a little samey after a while. That’s to be expected, though, as this is a retro-style game in modern trappings. Your adventure takes you from the left hand of the screen, all the way to the right. Rinse and repeat. And I can get behind that, I really can – I adored Streets of Rage 4 – but Shing! is just a bit too long in the tooth.
While there are only seven stages, they take an age to get through, especially if you find yourself dying often. Encounters with bad guys tend to last far too long, too, and often feel drawn out for the sake of extending the playtime. Even kicking the difficulty down didn’t help on that front, but I did die less often. I still died, mind you, but mainly during boss battles and when I was fighting large groups of annoying enemies. By annoying, I mean the little dweebs who throw bombs at you and then run away while their mate does the same. That kind of annoying.
I still enjoyed it for what it was, but I wouldn’t have felt hard done by if the encounters were balanced a little more in my favour. Games like this are supposed to make us feel like overpowered idiots, not coin-pushing chumps at the arcade.
I’m guessing that the younger players will find more to enjoy here than the old-timers like myself. The story is daft but the characters are worth listening to, if only for the crude comments and bad jokes. I know that 15-year old Chris would have loved Shing! and its over-the-top Devil May Cry style gameplay with juvenile humour. 30-year old me enjoyed the Devil May Cry gameplay, but stayed for the juvenile humour.
Shing! PS4 Review
Overall - Good - 6.5/10
Shing! sits in a weird place. It’s on the cusp of being something special, but it’s also on the cusp of being utter crud. Thankfully, it leans more towards special with its Devil May Cry gameplay in a 2.5D adventure and the cast of pottymouth characters. Edgy teens looking to annoy the parents by having swears slip onto the family room TV will get the most enjoyment.
- Stick-based combat is fantastic and feels really fluid
- The presentation, graphics, and animations sell the gameplay
- Satisfying hack-n-slash gameplay, even if it’s a bit too challenging at times
- Fights last way too long
- Difficulty balance is a little wonky, even on Easy
- The story could have been pushed more, but gameplay takes priority – and rightly so!
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.