Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most iconic and well regarded videogames of all time ever since it released in late 2005 at the tail end of the PS2 lifecycle. It was Fumito Ueda’s second game following up ICO that was released several years before it. Shadow of the Colossus was unlike anything else at the time it released and although it was more of a cult hit with gamers I still feel like more people should have experienced it. Sony evidently felt the same way as they had developer Bluepoint Games remaster both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus in a collection on PS3. While that collection was nice Sony evidently felt like Shadow of the Colossus deserved even more attention as they once again teamed up with Bluepoint Games only this time they rebuilt Shadow of the Colossus for the PS4 in what might be one of the best remakes of all time.
Now for those of you who still haven’t played this game I will be keeping this review spoiler free. The game begins with you the player in control of a young man named Wander. Wander rides into a forbidden land on his horse named Agro and enters The Shrine of Worship. There, he places the body of a woman named Mono upon a stone slab and speaks with some kind of entity called Dormin. Wander has heard of a way to bring Mono back from the dead but in order to do so he will have slay 16 Colossi that roam these forbidden lands. There is more to the story from there but I won’t touch any more upon it. Just know that it is absolutely worth seeing through to the end and it still resonates with me today just as it did when I first played this game back on the PS2.
From there you set out on Agro to roam this massive open world in search of these Colossi. One thing I always loved about the world of Shadow of the Colossus is that it doesn’t fill itself with filler content. No this is a world that is devoid of pretty much any other life outside the Colossi. Yes there are some animals about such as hawks, fish, lizards, and turtles but there are no other enemies in this game. Back in 2005 it was refreshing to experience a desolate world like this and in 2018 it is even more so with just how big and full of objectives today’s open world games are. Now in order to find the Colossi you can press the R1 button which will raise your sword to the sunlight and reflect a line of light towards the direction you need to head in.
When you find them you will have to figure out how to climb these massive creatures so that you can attack their weak points. This brings a sense of puzzle solving to the game as some of them you might be left scratching your head on how to approach. Climbing can be tough but thankfully Bluepoint has made this easier due to a more modern control scheme. The Jump button has been moved to X instead of the Triangle button while Gripping has been moved to R2 instead of R1. If you were a fan of the original controls don’t worry as you can still choose to play with those should you want to. This updated scheme merely makes it a bit easier and friendly for new players or even those who may have been turned off by the original release of this game.
As you scale these creatures you will have to use your grip to stay on as they will shake about trying to throw you off of them. Once you manage to find their weak points you have to stab them with your sword in order to bring them down once and for all. Every encounter is different and unique and having figure out how to climb them, manage my stamina and attack their weak points was exhilarating and left me with a feeling not many other games have been able to provide me with to this day. Some of the battles even require you to ride Agro while still attacking the Colossus with arrows. One in particular late in the game is still my favorite to this day. While I really like the improvements to the gameplay Bluepoint has made I do think some players might still find the controls hard and the camera a little annoying at times. While climbing there are times where the camera moves into an odd position and sometimes both Wander and Agro can get stuck on things.
When you finish the game, which only took me around seven hours my first run, there is still plenty of reasons to keep playing. By starting a New Game Plus you can start a new run while keeping your increased stamina and health. You also unlock new weapons and other items in the game by beating Time Trial challenges which task you with beating each Colossus in a certain time frame. Bluepoint even went and created a new set of collectibles scattered across the world that reward you with a new item that wasn’t in the original game. If you enjoy earning trophies there is a new list here and it’s a bit easier than the PS3 list was but can still be challenging. There is even a pretty in depth Photo mode that you can fool around with which I did during my time with the game. Some amazing photos have already been being shared on the internet so if you enjoy capturing cool pictures make sure you give it a try.
Graphics and Audio:
Now it’s no secret that this game struggled to run on the PS2 as it was pushing that system to its absolute limit back in the day. However with the power of the PS4 Bluepoint Games has rebuilt Shadow of the Colossus to run better than ever. If you have a PS4 the game runs at 1080p and 30FPS. If you play on the PS4 Pro you can pick between two options. The Resolution mode runs the game in 1440p and 30fps while the Performance mode runs at 1080p and an awesome 60fps. For my review I preferred the extra detail that the Resolution mode provided but I’m very glad that there is an option to play this game at 60fps. Either mode you choose, this is a huge improvement as the original game would dip below 20fps on the PS2 which really made the game more difficult that it already was.
It’s so much more than that though as everything in this remake is so much improved over the original. The Colossi have never looked better as some of them have seen a fifty times increase in terms of polygon count. The dynamically generated fur on them just looks incredible as you climb your way through it. The world itself is a night and day difference. Cliffs and mountains off in the distance no longer look so plain but are all craggy as you would expect them to be. Grass and foliage covers the ground, structures and mountains. The lighting in the game is incredible too and the game supports HDR which I turned on for my playthrough. It’s one of the better uses of HDR that I’ve experienced as the clouds and sky look so much more authentic with it.
On the audio side of things the dialogue is all a language exclusive to the game but the subtitles let you know what the characters are saying. The soundtrack is still one of my favorites as it is just so beautiful and kicks in and fits all the moments in the game perfectly. That music that plays when you manage to climb aboard a Colossus and fight to bring it down will never get old.
I’m so glad that Sony gave Bluepoint Games the opportunity to remake a true classic like Shadow of the Colossus. I loved the game back on the PS2 but the PS4 version is the definitive way to play this game. It’s amazing just how incredible this game looks now especially when you place it next to games that are released today. Bluepoint deserves huge props for staying true to this masterpiece while also updating just enough to help make the game more accessible for a new generation. Now if you would kindly remake ICO for the PS4 as well that would be amazing.
Shadow of the Colossus is available on PS4. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review code provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Shadow of the Colossus$39.99
- One of the Best Games of All Time Beautifully Remade
- Beautiful, Desolate Open World that is Fun to Explore
- Updated Controls Make this Version Far More Accessible
- New Collectibles and Photo Mode Add More to the Original Package
- Climbing Mechanics and the Camera Could Frustrate Some Players