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Shadow Of The Colossus Review: Still Standing Tall

It’s been a little over a decade since Sony first released the original version of Shadow of the Colossus for the Playstation 2. It’s widely regarded a classic and held up as a shining example of a title that embodies the concept of games as art. Ever since its launch, it’s had a cult following of both fans and critics.

Admittedly, I’ve heard a lot about Shadow of the Colossus over the last ten years, and yes, all of it was good. So the release of the upcoming remastered version presented me with unique opportunity to finally cross this gem off my bucket list. Does the brand new facelift breath new life into an aging beauty, or are memories best left stuck in the past? The truth seems to lie somewhere in between.

I Want To Be Big

While the game has been around for a while, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot for folks like myself who have yet to play it. The story is succinct though; a young man wishes to bring a young girl back from the dead and is tasked with slaying several colossal giants in order to make his wish come true. With nothing, but a mystical sword, his faithful horse, and bow and arrow, he sets out to accomplish his daunting task.

It’s a story that’s been told several ways throughout gamedom history, including the Zelda and Mario series. While the basic outline is certainly a trope, Shadow of the Colossus finds creative ways to add its own twists that players won’t see coming and will definitely leave players with something to contemplate when finished.

Shadow of the Colossus does a great job of letting the visuals tell a story and world build. It is a truly breathtaking experience to travel the games vast fields, sprawling deserts, and towering mountains. This remaster is just absolutely gorgeous from head to toe. Everything just radiates with an eerie beauty.

Giant Killer

The Colossi themselves are giant, awe-inspiring beasts that are both gorgeous and intimidating monsters at the same time that vary in dramatically different ways. Some resemble creatures, like lizards or buffalo, and some take on more humanoid forms and mannerisms. Each one is basically a puzzle that must be conquered either by figuring out ways to climb up the lumbering beasts or finding creative solutions within an environment to falter them.

Sure, they get stabbed in weak points in order to kill them, but it feels more like a matter of timing as they jerk and thrash in an attempt to throw the player back to terra firma. But it’s not like attack and defend combat as much as it’s a matter of managing grip stamina in between stabbings. Watching them writhe in pain and hearing their screams of agony as I slowly drained them of life also had a disturbing psychological effect on me as I played. There’s a mixture of relief and guilt that I felt as I extinguished each beast.

How The Mighty Have Fallen

While the remaster does a great job of bringing the game's already noteworthy visuals and story into a new generation of HD consoles it is unfortunate that the same cannot be said about the controls. Sadly, the game’s control schemes are stuck in the past and make for a clumsy experience at times. Climbing commands feel like there’s a delay in the reaction and there were several times I failed to grab onto something that seemed like a straightforward transition.

Camera angles also plagued my gameplay at times and made things confusing at a few key reactionary moments. My horse had some trouble getting turned around after hitting dead ends, and having to continuously tap a button to make him keep up a pace definitely felt dated.

Overall, this remastered version of Shadow of the Colossus is something I would definitely recommend experiencing, especially if you haven’t gotten around to it yet for some reason like me or were maybe too young to hop on the bandwagon the first time around. It is a flat-out beautiful title that must be seen to be believed. It can be both profoundly beautiful and anxiety-inducing at the same time. Just realize that while the looks are on par with modern releases, the controls and camera are still stuck in the past. But they are not so dated as to truly deter from the game’s overall quality. Just maybe make sure there’s someone around to give you a hug after it’s all over.

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Shadow of the Colossus

8
very good
  • Visually Stunning
  • A minimalist but intriguing plot
  • Beautiful and tragic giants
  • Conceptually still holds up
  • Dated controls
  • Dated camera issues