June 16, 2021

Shadow of the Colossus: Giant among giants

5 min read

A 13-year-old masterpiece gets remade, and it still stands tall, overshadowing many other bigger and newer games.

I always wanted to write one ­article where I could tell you, ­reader, to skip reading the review and just go buy the item.

Well, this is that review. So stop reading and go get the Shadow Of The Colossus, especially if you have not played the original on the ­venerable PlayStation 2 or the remastered version on the PlayStation 3.

And even if you have played the game before, it’s definitely worth a revisit because Fumito Ueda’s 2005 masterpiece has been rebuilt from the ground up, making it grander and more magnificent than ever.

Developer Bluepoint has taken great pains not to mess with the formula – even leaving in some of the issues of the original game – and only updating the sound and graphics, and also introducing a new collectible system, and an extremely secret one.

Larger than life

The story is simple – a boy named Wander enters the Forbidden Land so he can bring the maiden Mona back from the dead. Mona was sacrificed because she was cursed but little is known about their relationship – is Mona his sister, girlfriend or wife?

To resurrect her, Wander makes a pact with an entity that has been locked away in the Forbidden Land – the Dormin – which commands him to destroy 16 colossi.

Shadow Of The Colossus

Hang in there – even though you have limited stamina, timing your moves is critical to your success.

If all that seems vague, it’s because it is – to be frank, I gleaned most of the info from online sources because Fumito Ueda doesn’t believe in fleshing out details as he wants you to make your own story.

But that’s not a bad thing because like some of the best stories, what little Fumito Ueda offers is enough to spark your ­curiosity, to make you wonder what really transpired.

Big, big world

The simplicity extends to the gameplay. There are no complicated weapons to deal with as you only have your trusty sword and bow, and your only companion (that’s alive) is your horse Argo.

And that’s all you are given to take down towering giants.

Shadow Of The Colossus

Argo is the best companion a man can have for battling behemoths.

You also don’t have to deal with any minions – which most other games throw at you constantly, sometimes for the sake of ­lengthening games – before you can engage a colossus.

Your only have to locate the colossus, which you do with your sword – it will reflect the light off the sun to point you the way, and while the early ones are easy to find, the later ones take a little exploring.

I have a general dislike for open worlds because I hate having to be made to traverse lengthy terrain to get to my target but it’s different with the Shadow Of The Colossus.

Though it’s largely barren of life save for small creatures and the colossi, there is something ­magically mesmerising about the land, and it’s especially more enchanting now that it has received a fresh coat of high-­resolution paint from Bluepoint.

Everything is prettier (birds, ­butterflies, fishes), more realistic (water, wind and dynamic lighting) and lifelike (colossi). About the only thing I don’t like about the redesign is the hero – he looks dorkier and less likeable than his low resolution counterpart.

Battling behemoths

Each colossus you battle is unique and somewhat of a puzzle that needs unravelling.

They can only be taken down by plunging your sword repeatedly into their weak points and getting to their weak points (and staying there long enough to stab them) is the challenge.

While the first one you encounter is an easy climb, the others require much more thought and some ­planning.

Shadow Of The Colossus

Beards are all the rage with the colossi. They are also no longer jagged pixels thanks to Bluepoint masterfully rebuilding the game in full HD and 4K resolutions.

But more than that, each battle is an experience. Whether you are on the head of a lumbering giant or wings of a giant bird holding on for dear life, you’ll almost feel the rush of wind on your face.

And the sheer variety of colossi you encounter is amazing but I’d rather not say more because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

What truly elevates Shadow Of The Colossus above the rest is the terrible sadness you feel when you see a majestic colossus fall rather than accomplishment after taking it down.

Maybe it’s the well orchestrated melancholy music but it’s mostly because you feel that your actions are unwarranted and selfish. After all, the colossi are not evil and it’s you who is hunting them down.

Shadow Of The Colossus

As exciting as it is to take down this flying beast, you can’t help but feel sad when it dies.

And as each one is majestic, every death feels like a terrible loss and you rarely ever get that feeling in any other game.

New heights

If you have never played the game before then you owe it to yourself to get Shadow Of The Colossus as it’s a landmark title for the PlayStation.

Even if you have played it, you will want to experience the game again now that it has been rebuilt for full HD and 4K resolutions (PlayStation Pro only) and it looks spectacular.

And you really have no reason not to as it’s priced lower than a regular PS4 game as it goes for RM149 instead of more than RM200 for a new title.

Although I have now played it thrice, I still hope that this is not the last remake because what would do the game absolute justice is if it’s remade for VR (virtual ­reality) for the PlayStation VR headset.

Pros: A truly immersive game; Bluepoint has done an excellent job in remaking the game without messing with the formula; cheaper than most titles. 

Cons: Tiny bugs.

Shadow of the Colossus
(SIE/Japan Studio/Bluepoint)
Adventure game for PS4
Rating: 5 stars
Price: RM149 on PS

Stay tuned for a new offer coming to you soon.