Shadow of the Colossus was the free PS+ game for March and I’ve just gotten around to completing it. It’s a really apt game to play for Quarantine. It is a game that has been praised for its expansive vistas and exploration. The vast landscape really is the best thing about ‘Shadow.’ It’s the most picturesque video game of all time. Even prettier than the real world, maybe.
I had played Shadow of the Colossus once, back when it was originally released on PlayStation 2. I remember even buying the guidebook for like £15 back in the day (do they even make those anymore.) Ah, yoof. It was a full play through, completed it to the very end, and though I’ve not played it since, it is easily the game I think about the most. It has stayed with me for what, 15 years? So the first thing I notice after revisiting this game is, my memory hasn’t exaggerated its greatness one bit; it is literally as amazing as I had remembered it – looks, gameplay, story, everything.
Basically, you play as Wander. All you have is a horse and this big-ass sword. You are taking care of this girl who is unconscious. It doesn’t look good. You make your way over this reallyyyy long bridge and in to the ‘forbidden land.’ You are told by some mysterious spirit that if you defeat 16 colossi then the girl will be saved. And that’s it. That’s all the player knows. You then explore this huge, beautiful, picturesque land that is completely lifeless. There are temple ruins and shrines and all sorts of things that point to the place once being inhabited, but that’s all we can guess.
There aren’t any additions to the game, it’s just the same old PS2 game, but, y‘know, better graphics, which is totally fine. It is a complete visual remake and you can tell. But they’ve remained true to the OG and kept everything the same. Even the turgid camera. It is possibly the worst camera in a video game ever. You’re battling a colossus, you’re close to his head, clutching its hair, not much grip left, then the colossus starts shaking and Wander is flying everywhere. The camera goes mental and it’s impossible to get the camera to be static in the position you want, it just moves around erratically.
My favourite colossi is the Avion, a pterodactyl that you have to jump on to as it glides through the sky. It’s sweeping, intense, atmospheric, and cinematic. Well, most of the colossi are. The last colossus, Malus, is a mountain that can shoot fire beams. Defeating Malus is the most satisfying and euphoric gaming moment ever, which then leads to one of the most depressing, heart-sinking moments in video-game history.
All of the colossi are memorable, but not always for good reasons. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are epic, sweeping goliaths that you’ll remember slaying for decades, then there’s Celosia*, a dog like colossus that runs rabid. It charges at you any chance it gets, so you’ve got to stay above ground. Celosia is scared of fire, so you have to light a torch and get him to back in to a corner and fall off a cliff. The only thing is, this is the 11th colossus, and not once in the game have you had to pick anything up, nor have we been taught how. So when you try picking that torch off the ground, clicking every button you can, the colossus just charges at you. Wander takes so long to stand back up that once you’re finally on your feet you get charged at again. This continues until you’re dead.
*I find it fascinating that non of the colossi actually have official names, yet the fan base is so in to it that the fan names have stuck, and those names are universally known.
I love how mysterious the game is. There are so many temple ruins with so much detail that they have to mean something, right? RIGHT?! It makes you crave more info, but if we were actually given answers, would it even be that satisfying? It’s so mysterious and so beloved, in fact, that there are hundreds of YouTube videos trying to decipher what all of it means. So much so that one of those youtubers is even credited in the closing credits as the developers of the remake used his videos as blueprints. There is definitely some hidden meaning, or maybe it’s just some really deep lore that we’ll never find out. They say that writers only write for themselves and that’s probably what Fumitory Uada did.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of the greatest video-games of all time. It truly is a work of art. However, it’s almost impossible to create a drinking game out of it.