Shadow of the Colossus originally released in 2005, exclusively for the PlayStation 2. It was a unique specimen that was met with massive critical praise. The game was a testament to how you can do so much with so little. From the minimalist environments to the protagonist being almost mute to having only 16 bosses to fight with not much in between. Even the more mainstream media characterized it as being a certified art. All of that contributed to it being very successful in terms of sales and it even won numerous awards that helped set it in stone as an unavoidable PlayStation 2 classic.
Seeing as many games from the PS2 and PS3 era are being either remastered or remade for the newer generation of hardware, I, myself and many other wondered if Shadow of the Colossus would get the same treatment and Sony announced it during their Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 press conference to a considerable hype. Now that it's finally here, we can see how the remake was handled and is it worth your time and money, especially if you already played it.
Shadow of the Colossus is available on the PlayStation Store for $39,99.
STORY & GAMEPLAY
Shadow of the Colossus is a story of Wander as he arrives in a mysterious forbidden land on his trusty horse Agro, carrying a body of a girl named Mono. He takes her to a central structure called the Shrine of Worship and places her on an altar there. A couple of shadowy figures then attack him and after he easily dispatches them, he is contacted by a mysterious disembodied voice of a creature called Dormin.
You then find out that Wander is here to restore Mono to life and Dormin tells him that the only way to do so is to use the weapon in his possession to slay the 16 colossi that roam the forbidden land. He is also warned that there is a price to pay for slaying the colossi and reviving Mono, but Wander nevertheless gets on with his quest, unfazed by the warning.
As the story goes on you'll find out more about Wander, Mono, Dormin and the colossi. Despite it seeming like a fairly simple quest to set up you fighting 16 bosses, you'll find that the game has plenty of depth, revelations, and situations open to interpretation. It's a fairly tragic and lonely story that is only matched by the epicness of its scale.
When it comes to hunting down the colossi, you do this by holding up your sword which then projects a beam of light to a general location of one. Once you arrive where a colossus is located you'll find that only small minority of them will attack you on sight while the majority will go about their business, treating you like a speck of dust that you are. It's up to you to scour your environment and the movement patterns of the colossi in an effort to approach and climb onto them to find their weak spots in order to bring them down.
The colossi become progressively more difficult as you go through them and each is different in its own right as is the path to their defeat. One thing that's for certain is that you will probably feel stumped when meeting each one as the sheer scale of these beasts can be intimidating. It's always going to involve you climbing onto them and holding on for your dear life while chipping away at their armor and health by attacking the minor weak spots hoping the major one is just behind the corner for that mortal blow. When a colossus is killed, you are transported back to the shrine with an upgrade in health, stamina, and damage and you can even go back to fight the colossi again in a special mode that simulates you remembering the fight which is a pretty nice touch.
Horse control is something that I must mention and it's probably the only thing that doesn't feel as tight as the rest of the gameplay. Coming off of games like Witcher, AC: Origins or Zelda, you'll find that controlling Argo often feels like you aren't really in control which can lead to some frustration. Luckily, you'll mostly be moving through huge open spaces where this problem isn't very prominent but you'll notice it as soon as you need the horse to be a bit more precise.
Despite the game being all about fighting what are essentially bosses, you'll never feel like you are missing a million faceless grunts that usually come in between the boss fights. Taking down each of the colossi is a story in itself and the sense of awe that you'll be experiencing while fighting them is through the roof. As much as is the sense of satisfaction when you take one down. You won't get crazy powerful or wield any new weapons by the end of this 10-hour adventure, but this subservience to the narrative is what makes the game stand out.
VISUALS & AUDIO
Shadow of the Colossus was already an insanely atmospheric and epic game when it originally released and I must give props to the team at Bluepoint games that took it all to a new level with this remake.Today's open worlds are often rated based on how dense they are both in terms of visuals and gameplay possibilities. Shadow of the Colossus is the polar opposite, and wonderfully so.Its environments are, despite being huge mostly empty with only hints of life long gone due to decaying architecture scattered around the land.
It's a game where words grand, atmospheric and epic spring to mind most often and this will be evident to you as soon as you start the game. The remake did wonders not only in graphical fidelity but also in other areas like the animation on both Wander and the colossi as well as the lighting which now greatly contributes to the totally immersive and thick atmosphere of it all. The new hardware also brings its fair share of performance improvements with the game running at a steady 30FPS on the base PS4 and 60FPS on the PS4 Pro with HDR lighting. No matter the console of your choice, this is a remake in the fullest sense of the word and when it comes to visuals the game is absolutely stunning.
Shadow of the Colossus had one of the best soundtracks out there that superbly supplemented the thick atmosphere of the game. In-game, this is due to how sparingly the music is used only during pivotal moments of the story or colossi encounters. When it comes to sound, I'm glad it matches the visual quality, meaning it's amazing in most situations. Despite it mostly being pretty tame, the sound shines when it matters. It will take you from moments of solitude and quiet exploration to environment engrossing sounds of the colossi that will further immerse you and contribute to the immense sense of scale.
Shadow of the Colossus has been my most favorite revisiting of a game in a long time. In a sea of quickly packaged remasters that only slightly improve, this one is a shining beacon of how to refresh the game right as every aspect that could be improved – was. All the while, the game didn't lose what made it special in the first place and became an even more essential part of the PlayStation library.
|+ Gameplay||– Loose horse controls|
|+ Visuals and sound|
|+ Amazing atmosphere|
|+ Excellent performance|