Shadow of the Colossus is unlike any game I have played, for better and for worse. Here’s a trailer to familiarise yourself…
What is Shadow Of The Colossus?
Plot-wise, the game is fairly simple. You follow Wander in his efforts to save Mono’s life. To do this, he has taken Mono to a temple-like place in a forbidden land. Dormin, the ethereal entity who speaks to Wander, instructs you to slay sixteen humongous beings known as the Colossi. Then, with any luck, Dormin will bring Mono back to life for you. For each one you kill, you get transported back to the temple-like place and are given your next target. It’s a simple way of progression, but that doesn’t mean Shadow of the Colossus is a simple game.
So far, I have slain five of the Colossi, so I don’t know how the story will pan out. But what I do know so far is that the Colossi are not to be messed with. Each one is unique in its design, and you have to adjust your approach to each one if you’re going to succeed. Each Colossi I have faced has been harder than the last, and this variety really carries the game forward.
There are no NPCs to interact with and not a lot to explore besides the lair of each Colossi. Shadow of the Colossus places being in the shadow of these Colossi at the center of its experience.
The Shadows Of The Colossi Are Stunning
While I can’t say I know what the original 2005 release of Shadow of the Colossus looked like, other than comparison videos on YouTube, the current-gen remaster is great. You could still tell it was a remaster though. The textures did look good, and I think the lighting improvements that were made really help to benefit this. However, the protagonist’s model was less impressive. This was most noticeable when it was at the focal point throughout the beginning of the game. However, this isn’t exactly a criticism. For a game from 2005, it looked incredible. I didn’t expect it to look as good as it did, in truth.
I didn’t once, while playing, think “this looks a bit old”. So, at this point, I’m just nit-picking.
You Have To Hold On For Dear Life Throughout
The gameplay in Shadow of the Colossus is a fairly standard depiction of those for an action-adventure game. You run and climb, you dodge and stab… It was easy to pick up and allowed me to jump straight into the experience. ALTHOUGH, (Because obviously I have a complaint)…
Wander, bless his incredible grip, runs on a manual climbing system I have not encountered to this extent before. When you’re clambering up the back of a Colossus, you have to hold R2 to grip onto its fur (if it even is fur). This, I can deal with. However, you also have to hold R2 for every ledge you want to climb, shimmy across, and grab. This was strange.
Just, out of habit, I did not think this was the case and found it a constant concern when scaling ruins and Colossi alike. It took me so long to get used to it; at times it was incredibly frustrating. Climbing isn’t the quickest in Shadow of the Colossus. When you fall off the top of a tower at the last ledge because you forgot to hold R2… Big oof.
Still, I can appreciate it’s inclusion in the sense that it forces you to be engaged in every aspect of the game and adds another level of difficulty and challenge to the experience, so I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a negative… Just inconvenient for a bit.
The Camera Sometimes Had A Mind Of It’s Own
Shadow of the Colossus’ camera displacement is horrendous. Whoever thought that would be a good idea should… Just not have thought it’s a good idea. In areas, it works well, though. The displacement removes the player from the focus and allows you to really appreciate the magnificence of the setting around you. And it is a magnificent setting. However, when you’re trying to dodge a Colossi’s attacks or clamber your way up a ruin… This gets a bit annoying. I never thought I’d appreciate a fixed camera as much as I did while playing this game.
Agro Also Sometimes Had A Mind Of His / Her Own
The second major issue I had with Shadow of the Colossus was the horse, Agro. Okay, maybe not with the actual horse. Agro seems like a stand-up horse, but my problem was with the way you control it. On paper, it seems relatively simple. Easy, even. You press triangle to go, pull back on the left stick to stop. Agro also maintains his speed without any input, which is a nice change from Red Dead’s constant tapping of the cross button and endless “Ge’r’up BOAH!” when you press it.
It is only when coupled with the previously-discussed camera displacement that it becomes an issue, especially when trying to navigate across the several bridges spanning the landscape. You can’t fall off these, per se, but the constant stop starting and having to adjust is frustrating.
The horse controls also become an issue when you’re trying to track the Colossi using the sword while riding. To track these, the player raises his sword and uses it to focus light into a solid beam. This beam is where the next Colossus is waiting. It’s an effective way of offering that extra level of exploration to the game and not a feature I dislike. But when you’re on the horse…
Both analog sticks control the sword-focusing. The horse doesn’t stop unless you pull back on the stick. You can see where it could get annoying. Once I got into the habit of coming to a full stop whenever I wanted to check where I was going, it wasn’t so bad. But this just felt unnecessarily annoying.
Would I Shadow A Colossus Again?
So, overall? I thought Shadow of the Colossus was fun, once I got past the several issues I felt I had with it. Each Colossi I killed was fairly satisfying, even if the method boils down to the same-y “stab in the head” route. Yeah, I would probably shadow a Colossus again.
It should be noted that I refer to Agro as ” he / she ” throughout due to the fact that the horse is referred to as a male in the English-language version of the game, yet the game’s director Fumito Ueda often saw Agro as a female.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of March’s PlayStation Plus titles. Sonic Forces is the other title also available for the month. For more information, check out our rundown here. For more reviews, on games and peripherals, be sure to check out Gamezo’s review page.