A Shadow From The Past.
June 16, 2015
Shadow Of The Colossus, in my opinion, is perhaps one of the greatest games of all time, this of course being subjective to opinion. For me personally, it is the greatest gaming achievement of all time to date.
It was responsible for the the notion that video games can be a form of art, that an audience could truly ‘get behind’. Hardly surprising given the creative director, Fumito Ueda, had a particular fondness for art; And was in fact, his favourite subject whilst at school. If you talk to any gamer for any length of time, the question of ‘what is your favorite game’ will no doubt emerge. No matter the player’s preferred genre; a seasoned gamer will know this little gem.
The game was released in North America and Japan in 2005, then released in europe in 2006. Six years later the HD version emerged in 2011. It was bundled with ‘Ico’, the predecessor to Shadow Of The Colossus. The sales for Shadow Of The Colossus were above average, unlike most ‘Cult classics’. The game even managed to outsell Silent Hill 2, another cult favorite amongst gamers.
The development team are the renowned ‘Team Ico’ whose only previous work was the critically acclaimed game ‘Ico’. Many consider Shadow Of The Colossus to be a spiritual successor to Ico and I can definitely see their reasoning holds water; For reasons I will not discuss here, as it contains spoilers.
Gameplay, for some people is what makes a game worth buying and investing any time in it whatsoever. For others, it’s the art style and visuals. Some games are so visually beautiful, that they enthrall players enough to see it all the way through to the end. Others prefer a great story that really connects with them and ends in catharsis. Shadow Of The Colossus has all of this rolled into one nice, neat package. The gameplay mechanics are simple and purposeful, as every action contributes to the overall story arc and it’s progression. The meat and bones of the gameplay consists of sixteen “back to back” boss battles.
Although this may sound repetitive and a good way to leave the player bored, the meticulous creativity in the design of the Colosi keeps everything fresh. Players are always left awaiting, bated breath, for the next Colosi to be discovered. There are no side quests; No side characters; Nothing to interact with other than the Colossi themselves. The focus is always kept on defeating the Colosi and how the player must achieve this. In a way, one may argue that it is a puzzle game based purely on nature of the fighting mechanics; As the player must figure a way to scale the Colosi and reach their weak spots. There are many different variables for each of the sixteen colossi in relation to finding their weak spot; And even getting on them can be a challenge. This can lead to frustration if the player is flung off, only to repeat the process of scaling the Colosi again, which can become tedious if done enough times. Worse still is the trek back to the allotted area, where the player must be before they can even access the Colossi.
Accompanying the gameplay is a truly beautiful soundtrack composed by ko Otani. Without this composers soundtrack, I doubt the experience would be the same. The soundtrack not only manages to evoke powerful feelings of sadness but also great elation. It is masterfully engineered and it manages to raise the game to new heights. However, the compositions are entirely absent during exploration sections, really setting the mood. The mixture of silence and musical sections, truly help to emphasise the epic ‘feel’ of the battles.
The environments add an ‘artistic’ flare already present within the game. The grand sweeping landscapes are breathtaking and beautiful. The amount that the PS2 was able to be render was a technological feat brilliance, especially for the time.The scope is amazing and when you face the colosi, they truly feel colossal! The dull greens and browns really accentuate the ‘solemn’ quest! Although the landscapes are beautiful and vast, they never serve to distract the player from the mission; This is of course, completely intentional; Again, emphasising the single minded task at hand.
The story is quite simple, you are a lone wanderer, embarking upon a journey into a forbidden land. You must find a way to resurrect your love, who was sacrificed for having a cursed fate! It feels personal and devoid of unnecessary cliches. The wanderer is no chosen one; No warrior of the common folk; And no hero either! You’re a man who has lost his loved one, that’s it. Most players can relate to this, after all, we all say we’d do anything for the ones we love; And the wanderer truly means it.
The player gains respect that grows with each Colosi he takes down, especially when it is killing him bit by bit. The Wander is a tragic protagonist. The game creates a ‘Don’t-Kiss-And-Tell’ kind of character that works wonderfully. You’re never told how much he loves his beloved ‘Mono’, because quite simply put, it is shown through his actions. It certainly calls back to the old saying that “Actions speak louder than words”. The Wanderer only talks once at the beginning of the game, which makes a lot of sense contextually, as he is completely isolated for rest of his journey. The Wanderer has only one companion as company throughout his journey, and that is his trusty horse, ‘Agro’.
The game truly stands as a Colossal achievement. The gist of what I’m saying, is that the story is expertly crafted and can be called something many games try and fail to be…original!
The Story -
The Gameplay -
The Experience -
The Presentation -
The Sound -
The Value For Money -
I Give This Game A
A Gamer who loves pretty much all genres of Games! (More so RPG, FPS, Survival Horror, Action Adventure etc.) Known to collect “Retro Games and Consoles” and also for being guilty of having an ever expanding back log of games. To get to know him better and see what he’s been up to, catch him online via his Gaming Accounts… You know what to do!