Title: Shadow of the Colossus
Available On: PlayStation 4
Developer: JAPAN Studio/ Bluepoint Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.
Official Site: Shadow of the Colossus
Release Date: February 6th, 2018
Where to Buy: Local Retailers, PlayStation Store ($39.99)
With a grunt, Wanderer hops off the back of his black steed, Agro, and pauses to take in the scenery. An undisturbed lake sits before you. A thick fog rests on its glassy surface as the tips of ancient, crumbling ruins stand tall above everything else. A giant Colossi in the shape of a bird sits upon the tallest pillar in the middle of the lake, and my jaw drops. A smile spreads across my face at the realization of the aerial battle to come, and without a second thought, I push Wanderer forward. This glee matched with sorrow and the sheer impossibility of your task combine to create an unforgettable experience. And Shadow of the Colossus looks fantastic doing it.
The game is just beautiful, and it takes full advantage of the power in the PlayStation 4 Pro. One of my all-time favorite things about the God of War series is when you find a new location; as Kratos draws closer, the camera pulls out to reveal the massive environments dwarfing the god-slayer Kratos. While these are only brief moments in God of War, this is the entirety of Shadow of the Colossus. Watching the individual pieces of grass sway in the breeze as you gallop across a field or the individual hairs shift on a Colossus as it tries to shake you free are moments of dizzying realization of how gorgeous this game really is.
When you begin the game, you are given two play options: cinematic or performance. Cinematic, the version I played, is compatible with 4K HDR setups and creates a stellar image. The Performance option focuses on a fluid frame rate running at about 60 FPS. As beautiful as the game is there were a few issues. Shadow of the Colossus crashed on me completely at one point, and other glitches (like Agro getting stuck in the ground) caused me to shut down and start over. While frustrating, these momentary inconveniences weren’t enough to keep me away.
Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a nameless boy, Wanderer, and his horse, Agro. In order to save the life of a young maiden, the inexperienced boy travels to a place of magic and possibility. His task? Wanderer must track and defeat the Colossi, huge creatures armored in stone, in order to appease a set of mythical voices. However, each of these victories come with a price.
Video games have conditioned us to crave a victory: a sense of accomplishment, bright, poppy music, the works. But this isn’t the case with Shadow of the Colossus. As you progress, you can’t help but do a bit of self-reflection as the guilt starts to hang heavy in your gut. While some of these slayings definitely result in a sense of accomplishment, I found myself constantly trying to rationalize killing a beautiful creature that was otherwise unprovoked. However, this forced thoughtfulness is one of the game’s greatest strengths and one of the many reasons why it is so legendary.
Anyone familiar with the past versions of the game will know the controls can be frustrating, especially at the beginning. There is definitely a learning curve, and the controls get easier as you move from Colossus to Colossus. As this wasn’t something fixed in the remaster, we can assume that the developers made it this way for a reason. Once I started to grow accustomed to the controls I couldn’t help but relate it to Wanderer’s experience. His inexperience is evident in the beginning, but together, you and he begin to grow stronger and more accustomed to the fights at hand.
Shadow of the Colossus is such a staple in the industry for obvious reasons. From its thought-provoking narrative to the unique battles with each Colossus, there is very little to complain about. The updated graphics are crisp and beautiful, elevating an already unforgettable experience to something even greater. Whether you are new to the series or you have been long-time friends with Wanderer and Agro, this is something that has to be experienced to truly be believed. But, be warned. While the battles are fun, exhilarating, and puzzling in the best ways, killing the Colossi won’t leave you celebrating.
Verdict: It is no secret that Shadow of the Colossus is one of the masterpieces of the gaming industry, and this legendary experience is only enhanced by Sony’s remaster. Seeing every piece of hair or grass sway in the wind only adds to the immensity of the world and the Colossi within it. Aside from a few glitches and temperamental controls and camera movements, this is a story that should be experienced by everyone.
- Immense environments
- Beautifully renewed graphics
- Thought-provoking narrative
- Puzzling Colossi
- Disrupting glitches
- Clunky camera movements