During Sony’s E3 2017 press conference last June, SIE Japan Studio and Bluepoint Games surprised fans everywhere when they released a jaw-dropping trailer of Shadow of the Colossus for the PlayStation 4. Having previously been remastered for the PlayStation 3, both studios aimed to make a definitive version of the original game rebuilt from the ground up with high definition art assets and reworked controls.
The end result of this experiment isn’t just an exceptional PS4 exclusive but arguably the best video game remake so far this console generation. Here are a few more reasons why Shadow of the Colossus is one remarkable title that definitely deserves your undivided attention.
Shadow of the Colossus takes place entirely within a fantasy world referred to as the Forbidden Lands, a remotely isolated peninsula filled with ancient architecture, canyons, dark forests and grassy regions. The player takes on the role of a warrior named the Wander as he travels to the lands with the aid of his horse Agro in hopes of resurrecting a young woman named Mono. As part of a deal, Wander must defeat 16 colossi in order successfully resurrect Mono.
Prior to the release of this remake, I actually didn’t play the original or remaster and wasn’t really certain of what to expect from the story. There’s a lot of mystery brought upon by unanswered questions on the backstory between these characters but this curiosity keeps the tone both interesting and entertaining. It’s evident that Team Ico and Fumito Ueda set out to make a game where the journey of exploring a desolate world and it’s larger-than-life statues would serve as the primary source of endless excitement and charm.
The overall visual presentation of Shadow of the Colossus is nothing short of breathtaking. Having seen gameplay footage from both the original and remastered versions, it’s easy for me to conclude that this is the best way to experience Wander’s adventure in all its glory. On the regular PlayStation 4 console, the game runs at 30 frames per second at 1080p resolution. If you own a PS4 Pro, you have the option of either running the game at 1440p resolution at 30 frames per second or 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. Regardless of which console you have, the game looks fantastic and makes full use of the specified hardware to achieve the highest performance and quality possible.
The gameplay aesthetics behind Shadow of the Colossus remain pretty much the same with the addition of reworked controls. Players are able to progress through the story by finding and defeating colossi scattered throughout different parts of the Forbidden Lands. Each colossus has sensitive points on their bodies that you can pierce to make them weak and eventually take them down.
One of the reasons why Shadow of the Colossus is highly regarded as a classic gem is because of how diverse and clever each colossus encounter truly is. The process is very similar to cracking a code or solving a puzzle and it may take a few attempts before you are successful. Once you finally do defeat a colossus, the feelings gained are absolutely gratifying. You know a game is special when you feel encouraged after overcoming an obstacle and Team Ico has succeeded in making that level of comfort fulfilling.
The score for Shadow of the Colossus remains fully intact thanks to Composer Kow Otani’s involvement. While there are mostly subtitles used to explain key moments within the narrative, the music used throughout successfully conveys the emotions that players will feel from beginning to end. I particularly enjoyed the triumphant theme that would play after defeating a colossus as it gave me a strong sense of accomplishment and further motivated me to continue my journey.
Shadow of the Colossus will take roughly 6-8 hours to complete based on how quickly you find and defeat each colossus. There are also several unlockables including a New Game+ mode available upon completion and a Reminiscence Mode that allows you fight bosses again after praying over them. The total package only retails for $39.99 and is an excellent value when you consider how fascinating and memorable the whole experience is.
With so many positives stated about this remake, there are at least two areas that I feel players might be a little conflicted on. The first issue worth addressing lies within the overall control mechanics. If you played the original game, then you may already be accustomed to the revamped controls and argue that they are vastly improved in this remake. I will admit that it took me a little while to get used to these controls and some players who are new to this series may have to adapt too. Exercising patience and persistent will help you achieve the most success quicker. This obviously won’t apply to everyone but it is worth mentioning nonetheless for those who might struggle.
The other issue that I had stemmed from the camera positioning throughout various instances in the game. While mounting statues, it can become a little challenging to position the camera accordingly as each colossus moves throughout the environment. Much like with the controls, this is something that you can easily adapt to quickly and it won’t prevent you from enjoying the game in any way shape or form.
Shadow of the Colossus is a perfect example of how video game remakes should be handled moving forward. The stunning visuals and challenging colossus encounters are beyond satisfying in almost every way imaginable. If for any reason you still haven’t played the original or remaster, this is without a doubt the best version worth picking up and playing right now.
This review was based on a physical review copy of Shadow of the Colossus for the PlayStation 4 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.