Shadow of the Colossus

-SCEA (2005)




When a mysterious voice tells you to kill something you better do it.

My Thoughts

Shadow of the Colossus is game filled with mystery. The story begins with a young lad of medium build and very little athletic prowess riding a horse to an enormous temple. With him is the body of a girl. Is she his girlfriend, sister, another relative, or just a friend? We are not told. Upon reaching the temple, he places the young girl on what looks like a sacrificial slab. A booming voice from above tells the boy the girl may be able to be saved if he completes the tasks set before him. The boy agrees, even after the voice says there is a price. The voice tells the boy of sixteen giant colossi that roam that land. Each one must be destroyed in order for the voice to use its power to help the girl. And so the boy, on his trusty steed named Aro, sets forth to topple the mighty beasts hundreds of times larger than himself with only his sword as his guide.

That is all the story we are given. We only know that the boy has to destroy the colossi. The only tool he is given to find them is the glow from your sword. It points in the general direction and it is up to you to try to find the colossi. The journey across the vast world will lead you through grassy plains, hot deserts, enclosed lakes, and up dangerous mountains. Once you are able to pass the obstacles set before you, only then will you discover the colossus.

Every colossus is unique every battle different from the last. Each colossus battle is like a boss encounter, but much more involved. You canít just start hacking away or shooting arrows at the thing, you first need to figure out how to get on it lending a strong puzzle element to the game. Some have obvious platforms while others will take some time to figure out how to get on. When you do climb on you then need to figure out what limb or body area to head to and what to stab or shoot to bring them crashing down.

While climbing around on them you start to wonder what these beasts were used for at one time. The numerous platforms and strategically placed walls could suggest that these beasts were once ridden into battle during a war fought long ago. We donít know if these creatures are even evil. They could just be gentle mammals going about their everyday lives. How would you feel if you were just relaxing in the sun and a little man suddenly appears on a horse and starts shooting arrows you? Well, Iíd certainly be a little pissed if something started attacking me and climbing on me for no reason. The whole sense of what you donít know is all part of the mystery and what draws you into the game. Have patience as all will be revealed in time

The graphics are astounding for the PS2. You get the sense that this is a real living world. There are no loading times as everything comes into view as you progress to where ever you are traveling. Sometimes textures on mountains suddenly appear. Once in awhile an entire mountain pops up along the horizon. I donít fault the game for this, but the PS2 hardware itself. The PS2 just cannot keep up with the demands of the game. The animation is exceptional for the boy, his horse, and the Colossi, especially considering that some of them have fingers or paws that are larger than the hero.

The music is beautifully orchestrated and changes with the action. While galloping along the desolate world there is nothing but silence. When Wander finds a colossus the music comes in ever so slightly and crescendos upward as the battle begins. Should you fall off or run away to catch your breath, the music comes back down, but not for long as you must get back into the fight to save the girl you brought to the temple.

Itís hard not to compare the game to ICO since it is made by the same people and that the style is so similar. Like ICO the controls may take a little to get used to, but once you get the hang of things youíll be battling these enormous creatures like a pro. The boy has limited strength and stamina and holding on to matted fur while a colossus is wildly trying to shake him off will deplete his grip more quickly. There are ways to increase the boyís strength and stamina, but I will leave it to you to figure out how.   

The lack of any smaller enemies didnít bother me because I was too enthralled with figuring out how to get somewhere. If you look hard enough, however, you may find small smaller creatures to hunt and a few other little surprises. This is a game that rewards exploration. I spent much time just wandering around, seeing what I could climb or get inside of. I didnít have to go places, I just wanted to. Shadow of the Colossus is easily one of the most beautifully put together games to be crafted and an incredible, unique experience that just gets better the deeper you play.

Score: 9.0