- Original release year: 2005
- Consoles: PS2 (later: PS3)
Every now and again, a game comes out that is truly special, representing something never seen in gaming before. Shadow of the Colossus is one of those titles. Being released late into the PS2’s life (well, when you consider the PS3 was on the horizon – The PS2, of course, was supported until around 2014), Shadow of the Colossus made full use of the hardware, producing one of the most graphically stunning and technically remarkable games to be found on the PS2.
As I didn’t buy a PS2 until 2010 (I had a Dreamcast, GameCube and briefly an Xbox instead during that era), I was late to the party with this game, but it still blew me away just as much as if I had played it back in 2006, when it was released here in Europe.
Shadow of the Colossus is a hugely impressive game and one that is completely unique and compelling. There is not a vast cast of characters, there are not long cutscenes and cluttered dialogue. It’s just you – a young man possessing a bow, a sword and his trusty horse. Other than that, you’re on your own as you travel through the stunningly beautiful world, exploring the vast area in search of the next ginormous beast to take down.
The story in Shadow of the Colossus is simple. You want to resurrect a young girl who was sacrificed and you’re told you need to slay 16 colossuses (colossi?) in order to do this. So from then on, you raise your sword high up in the sky and follow the light beam that shines off your sword, by riding your horse through the land and traversing on foot when needed. This light leads to the next colossi you need to face.
The game comes into its own when you face the colossi. Essentially they’re all boss fights (you could say the game is just boss fight after boss fight), but they’re all so unique and interesting to face, not to mention the sheer size and scope of the colossi is incredible. You see, this isn’t your standard combat game, where you mindlessly bash buttons (or shoot) until the enemy is dead. No, the colossi you face are more like giant, dynamic platforming sections and puzzle games. Strategy is key to taking down the colossi. What you need to do is find a way in order to climb the colossi (there’s a grab button that allows you to climb, but watch your stamina bar, because if it runs out, you fall). Once you’re on the colossi, the game becomes like a platform game, only the platform is a living, breathing beast, meaning the platform around you is dynamic and will do everything it can to shake you off. Your job is to find the weak point(s) and stab the colossus with your sword.
Each colossus is entirely different with a completely different strategy. There’s flying ones, ones that are in water, giant beasts. The variety is amazing.
Finally, I want to add that the ending is incredible and a huge “WTF” moment… but no spoilers from me!
If you haven’t got Shadow of Colossus, the HD remaster on PS3 is well worth the price.