Shadow of the Colossus Remastered: A Classic Brought Back To Life


Noah Conley, Broadcast Editor

  Ya know, as a critic, I usually get requests or suggestions for stuff to review, and one suggestion I’ve gotten several times is Shadow of the Colossus. It’s usually been described to me as a major work that helped justify video games as an art form, and the last time I heard a game described like that, it led me to Bioshock, which I enjoyed immensely. Luckily, I recently picked up the HD remaster for the PS4, played through it, and felt like I had to talk about it.

  In Shadow of The Colossus, you play as a warrior named Wander, who brings a young woman named Mono to a forbidden and cursed land. There, you make a deal with an entity named Dormin, who says that if you kill the sixteen colossi that inhabit the land, they will revive Mono.

  The story is very light, but it feels like the kind of story that matches up with the gameplay. Shadow of the Colossus isn’t a huge fantasy adventure a la The Legend of Zelda, but instead goes for an approach that I couldn’t find a term for, but I like to call ‘minimalist fantasy’. There’s a bunch of fantasy elements, like your sword that shines a light that leads you towards the colossi, the giant colossi themselves, and the Escher-esque architecture of the castle Dormin resides in (If you’ve ever seen that drawing where the hands are drawing themselves, that’s Escher).  Other than that, there aren’t any overworld towns, dungeons, or NPCs, and this makes Shadow of the Colossus a very solitary experience.

  But the story is not what the game seems focused on, but rather the gameplay. The way you progress through the game is Dormin telling you about the next colossi, finding it, killing it by stabbing their weak points and then being transported back to the main castle, which resides in the center of the map. There are 16 total colossi in the game, and they are massive. It has just the right number of colossi before it gets tiring, and is one of the few games I’ve played where something like the colossi actually feels big. The visual design of the colossi also makes them seem so old they are almost a part of the world itself, peacefully resting up until you come riding in on a horse waving your sword around, looking like a psychotic fly from their perspective.

  In fact, I would almost classify Shadow of the Colossus as a puzzle game rather than an adventure game, because the colossi are so big that finding how to climb onto them to get to their weak spot becomes a puzzle. This makes fighting each colossus more about finding the correct series of steps in order to reach their weak spot than it is about pure action, and while some of the colossi battles are worse than others, I wouldn’t call any of them ‘bad’; they all range from good to excellent, so the game can be commended for keeping up consistent quality.

  Another quality aspect of the game is the graphics. The landscape of Shadow of the Colossus is incredibly beautiful and varied. There are deserts, forests, waterfalls, and lake, and rendered in dazzling HD.  This game was rebuilt from the ground up for the PS4, and it really shows. The level of detail in the world, especially the details on the colossi, like the scratches and wear on their stone armor, and fur so detailed you can basically see every hair. The only aspect of the game carried over is the control scheme, which is clunky, but in a realistic way, sort of like Red Dead Redemption 2.

  I would give Shadow of The Colossus Remastered 10 Howls out of 10. It’s atmosphere perfectly suits the experience of riding through a forbidden land to hunt down colossal beings, and the experience of fighting them shows off intelligent and challenging game design, with just enough story to keep us invested in continuing our quest.