Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus is back for round three.
Originally developed by Team Ico (Ico, The Last Guardian) and Japan Studio, Shadow of the Colossus has now been remastered (again) by Bluepoint Games. Originally released back in ’05, the game has gathered quite a cult following, and as of this release will have hit three consecutive PlayStation generations.
In Shadow of the Colossus, you play as the young boy Wander. He has wandered (haha) into the forbidden lands on his trusty steed Agro with a dead girl’s body, in the hope of restoring her soul. Wander is confronted by the spirit of Dormin, who tells him the only way to retrieve the girl’s soul is to defeat the 16 colossi dotted around the lands. And so, with nothing but the word of a disembodied spirit to guide him, Wander sets off to do as he’s told.
Gameplay in SotC is relatively straightforward. By lifting his sword, a beam of light will show him where he needs to go, and he can then jump on to Agro and be off. Colossi will only appear in the wild in the order that you need to battle them, so there’s no concerns about running into the ‘wrong one’.
Encountering your first Colossus is an overwhelming experience; especially if you’ve never played it before, but those playing again may find the remaster renders the beings in a whole new (and beautiful) light. These things are huge, roughly 10 times the height of young Wander, and it’s up to you and you alone to take them down, with nought but your trusty sword and bow and arrows by your side. All the encounters play out differently, but you generally need to get the beast’s attention first.
Each Colossus has a number of weak spots that you’ll need to stab with your sword in order to damage them, with their health bar appearing in blue in the top left of the screen. Using your sword in the same way you did in locating the colossus in the first place, you are able to highlight the areas you need to focus on on the Colossus in order to deal significant damage.
Shadow of the Colossus‘ most intriguing mechanic is the grip. When in most games climbing things is just pushing a direction on the thumbstick, in SotC you have a grip gauge that depletes over a certain amount of time – if you’re still trying to hang on to something and it runs out, you better hope you suddenly gain the ability to bounce. Colossi have fur that you need to cling to to climb, and navigate in order to get to their strangely specifically-placed weak spots. Getting thrown from the Colossus is not necessarily a deterrent; it just makes you strive harder to bring the beast to its end.
Colossi battling aside, the (second) remaster has proved a welcome one to Team Ico’s original title, with Shadow of the Colossus looking more remarkable than ever. The photo mode gives you the chance to take stunning in-game shots, and the filters that are applied to your shots can also be applied to the game as you play it in real-time. The pause menu will also give you your stats, like how many arrows you’ve fired and your best time for each Colossus on each difficulty. The open world is relatively empty save for the Colossi you’ll be fighting – you might be lucky to stumble across the occasional lizard or butterfly. The ambience of Shadow of the Colossus‘ world is only amplified within its score, with the music rising and falling like the Titans you’ve slain.
Of course, let’s not forget the benefits should you be lucky enough to be playing on a PS4 Pro. You’ll have the choice of two ‘modes’ of play – Cinematic and Performance. Cinematic will beef up the appearance for those with 4K UHD TVs, and will run at 30 FPS. Selecting Performance mode will give you more fluid frame rates of 60 FPS – the choice is yours.
Shadow of the Colossus is undoubtedly a breathtaking game, and something must be said for the longevity of a title that has been released three times on three consecutive console generations. Whether you’re a gamer new to the title, or are simply returning for another round, SotC is as beautiful as they come.
Game supplied free of charge by Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, reviewed on PlayStation 4
Keep up to date with the latest Australian release dates for games.