Developer: Bluepoint Games
Release Date: 02/06/2018
Also Available On
The PlayStation is well known for its artsy games and games that push the boundaries of the medium. Team Ico already did this with Ico for the PlayStation 2 and then again with Shadow of the Colossus. Pushing the PS2 beyond its limits they were able to create a huge world with massive colossi that must be wrangled and toppled in hopes to save a nameless girl from an endless sleep. You play as a boy only known as Wander and with your trusty sword, bow, and horse Agro, you follow the light from your sword to each colossus to figure out how to take them down.
Each colossus is a puzzle unto itself that requires using the environment, wits, skill, and thinking. One colossus may require agitating it and having it expose a weak point at which you use your bow to make a graspable part low enough to reach. You then climb the colossus, with some being climbing puzzles, and stab each weak point while they buck and try to toss you off. You can hang on by holding R2 and using X to jump. It’s not as easy as it sounds as letting go of R2 can drop you to your death or make you start a climbing puzzle all over again. The controls have slightly improved with the remaster, but the animations are irritating, and sluggish, and towards the end of the game the frustration really starts to set in.
While the game doesn’t run at 10FPS like in the PS2 version, trying to do more advanced combat and relying on quick controls is not possible and it gets really frustrating at around colossus 12 or 13. One colossus is a small bull that must be chased off a cliff to knock off its armor and then jumping on it just right from that cliff to land on its back is no easy feat. The issue here is that Wander just doesn’t have the agility to dodge attacks as no matter how much I rolled or jumped the bull always hit me. I missed the cliff jump the first time and I died before making it back up to try again. Wander’s get-up animations are incredibly slow with around 7 seconds passing before he gets up. Some colossi can hit you again and kill you quickly if you don’t know what to do. Outside of combat the animations to jump around and grab on are wonky as long climbing puzzles towards the end have to restart if you so much as get a jump at the wrong angle. You can adjust Wander mid-jump so he will go in that direction until he hits the ground.
Outside of taking down these massive colossi, there’s literally nothing else to do. This large open world is completely void of life outside of some birds and it’s my biggest gripe about this game. As beautiful as it is I wanted more, as the story in itself is pretty bare-bones and vague in terms of what’s going on, even towards the end. I feel like this world could have been fully lived in with lore and people whether they’re alive or dead. It takes around 10 minutes to get to each colossus and that time is spent controlling Agro who has sluggish animations and terrible controls still and staring at a barren wasteland. I understand it’s cursed, but it could have been more.
The visual upgrade is probably the most noticeable as it looks amazing with flowing grass, Nvidia HairWorks on the colossi, HDR lighting, and high-resolution models and textures. On my 65″ LG OLED TV it just pops using the PS4 Pro. That’s also another thing, the game has framerate issues and doesn’t look as good in the original PS4, so the Pro is the way to go here.
Overall, Shadow of the Colossus is well worth a purchase for newcomers and anyone who played the previous two versions. The visual upgrade alone and higher framerate are well worth it and I feel this is the version that the developers originally envisioned, but just couldn’t pull off with the technology at the time. Shadow of the Colossus is a piece of gaming history. Pushing gaming conventions to their limits as well as an underpowered piece of hardware, and a vision that was bigger than life, Shadow of the Colossus is a must-play for any PlayStation fan.