4,488 days have passed since we originally laid hands on what would arguably go down in history as Team ICO and Fumito Ueda’s greatest achievement. Shadow of the Colossus, even with it’s few grievances, was an absolute masterpiece on the PlayStation 2. 12 long years later, Bluepoint Games is releasing a from-the-ground-up complete remake for a new generation of gamers and for those of us who have been dying to get back into this universe. And guess what? It’s even better than we remember it being! Read on for our full Shadow of the Colossus review!
Title: Shadow of the Colossus
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment America
Developer: Bluepoint Games / Team ICO
Available On: PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Game Provided by PlayStation for the Sake of This Review
Let’s get the obvious statement out of the way immediately. The technical geniuses and wizards over at Bluepoint Games certainly know how to do remakes and remastered. In fact, we feel confident in saying that this may be the greatest remake to currently exist in the gaming industry. An expertly crafted adventure that stays true to the original, while bringing certain elements forward into the modern area was without question the right move to make in terms of development. We’re honestly not sure where Bluepoint Games will go next from here, but if what they managed to do with Shadow of the Colossus is an indicator, then the sky is clearly the limit for these talented individuals with whatever comes their way next.
Upon loading up the PlayStation 4 version of Shadow of the Colossus, we were immediately swept back into the land of nostalgia as the soundtrack kicked in and began to paint the picture for what we were about to experience. From seeing various previews and trailers on the game, we knew that it was going to be one of the best looking games currently available on the market. However, we weren’t ready for just how jaw-droppingly beautiful everything was going to be! A sprawling open-world greets gamers after the initial cutscenes conclude, and it’s here where hours upon hours of exploration and imagination will exist.
The Forbidden Lands, in simplest terms, is just that, Forbidden. Humans have not set foot into this area for quite some time, and for good reason. But it’s because of this fact, with everything remaining untouched and free from outside influence, that the landscape and scenery are just breathtaking. From the crumbling ruins that dot the mountainsides, hidden lakes and ponds just waiting to be discovered, and an area with what may be the best looking waterfalls in a video game to date… you will not be disappointed when it comes to the visuals this remake has to offer.
You play as Wander, a boy with one goal… to save his girlfriend, who he feels was cursed with a terrible fate as she was used as a sacrificial lamb. In order to bring her soul back from the dead and return life into her lifeless body, he carries her by horseback thanks to his trusty friend, Argo, all the way to the Forbidden Lands and places her on a ceremonial pedestal. It’s here that Wander is clued in on what must be done in order to grant his wish. There are idols that must be destroyed. These idols exist in the Forbidden Lands as Colossi. Giant stone-like creatures that need to be defeated one by one, but ultimately at what cost?
Wander is equipped with the Ancient Sword, a magical sword that when help up in the sunlight, will point in the direction you must travel to reach the next Colossus. While this may sound easy on paper, it still remains challenging to maneuver your way throughout the landscape, over the mountainous terrain, and through the darkest caves in order to reach the next boss encounter. Having experience with the original release from back in 2005 will certainly help when it comes to directions, but it is definitely not needed to still have the same level of enjoyment out of this game.
Even though the Forbidden Lands do appear open-world in nature, there is still a sequential order that must be followed when taking on the giant Colossus creatures. You are free to explore at your heart’s content, seeking out the fruit in the lands or looking for the silver-tailed lizards. But when you’re ready for the next epic boss fight, there is a set order that must be followed.
Now, it’s time to talk about those boss fights. Holy crap do they feel even more epic and more heart-pounding than before! We had forgotten some of the mechanics needed to best even the mightiest of the Colossi, but paying attention to their movements and trial-and-error guesses made the experience all the greater. From jumping on a diving giant bird and soaring through the air at top speeds, to holding on for dear live as an electrified eel tries to take your life while diving underwater, to an actual bull fight using a torch to scare the bull into certain areas… these encounters are truly some of the best we’ve ever seen in a game. In a world where people gush over how amazing the encounters are in the Souls games.. we think more people need to talk about how good the encounters are in Shadow of the Colossus.
At the same time, there’s a sense of dread and guilt each time you take down one of these giant creatures. You can see it in their eyes and in their movements during the final seconds of each encounter, but it’s always something that we’ve felt when playing through Shadow of the Colossus. We never truly wanted to hurt these creatures… it was just the only way for Wander to resurrect the love of his life. When presented with those two choices, we knew there was no other way, and progressed on throughout the story.
The emotional moments from the original game hold up extremely well and still tug at the heart strings, perhaps even more so with full HD graphics. There were several moments where we had to stop for a second to collect our thoughts before moving on, and this is something that Fumito Ueda and Team ICO truly excel at. Whether it be in ICO, The Last Guardian, or here with Shadow of the Colossus.
Some of the complaints from the original release included issues like the controls and camera movement. While these are still minor issues in the remake, Bluepoint Games has done a terrific job bringing things forward into the current generation with a completely redone control scheme. Those who prefer the classic style have the option to switch over if preferred, but we felt the new control scheme made things a whole lot easier during some of the trickier moments in the 2005 release, such as the platforming and underwater segments. The camera still gave us a few issues throughout the eight hours it took us to finish the story, but not nearly as much as it did twelve years ago. All in all, if those were your biggest fears going in to this remake, you can honestly stop worrying.
The soundtrack is just as amazing as we remember it being, and still to this day we feel as if Shadow of the Colossus has one of the greatest soundtracks for a video game. Kow Otani’s compositions accompany each moment and boss encounter perfectly, making the entire journey feel even more heroic than it already does.
As mentioned earlier, we honestly cannot wait to see what the future holds for the talented team over at Bluepoint Games. But at the same time, we can’t help but to wonder what may be next for Fumito Ueda and genDESIGN. The recent teases from Ueda himself certainly have our collective minds pondering the possibilities, but one thing is certain. Whatever it is, will be worth the wait.