Now, this how you remake a game.
Shadow of the Colossus is widely considered one of the best video games of all time. I’d have to agree and replaying the game for a second time on the PlayStation 4 was a visual treat. Remaking a game can be a dangerous affair but Austin, Texas-based Bluepoint Games have done an astonishing job reworking this game for 2018.
In many ways Zelda: Breath of the Wild was an answer to Shadow of the Colussus.
The remake has not changed the story in any way. A young man named Wander who is wishing to save a slain maiden from her cursed fate must travel across a forbidden land on horseback to bring her back to life. The young man stumbles upon a mysterious being with the power to revive the dead. The two of them come to an agreement: To bring the maiden back to life, Wander must kill the kingdom’s 16 ancient colossi. These colossi are powerful, intimidating and some as tall as skyscrapers. The plot is thin but effective and sets up a fantastic bittersweet ending that makes the player reconsider the moral axis of their actions.
Minutes into my playthrough I forgot that this was a game I had played before. It all looked so new and fresh. The only thing that reminded me of 2005 was the shifty camera, the uncomfortable controls, and the Papyrus font. Nothing has been added to the game apart from a photo mode and some Easter eggs. But refighting the colossi felt like a whole new experience. I couldn’t stop staring at their hair. It’s some of the best video game hair I’ve ever seen. It’s astonishing to look at. Honestly, it’s worth playing this game just to see the hair. It’s astonishing. With the updated graphics you also get a better sense of how downtrodden the colossi actually are. You can see the pain in their eyes and it makes each fight more extraordinary and tough. The graphics are some of the finest this generation.
Aside from the graphics, the gameplay has remained the same. Each monster has a certain way of being defeated. Located the weak spot by shining your sword on them and find the best way to get to it. The weak spot is usually always on their head so your goal is to get them low enough to go for a ride while holding on for dear life.
The thrill of climbing these Godzilla-sized monsters lasts throughout the game but it becomes clear quickly on that there’s a lack of variety when it comes to destroying them. But that doesn’t hinder the enjoyment. The landscapes and the ambiance are simply stunning and worth taking in. It’s crazy to think this game was envisioned so long ago as a PlayStation 2 game. It’s undertaking is incredibly impressive and Bluepoint Games should be very proud of their hard work and eye for detail.
What makes Shadow of the Colossus so special is the ambiguous morality of the adventure. Very little is known about the main character and most of the colossi have no interest in attacking the man. They don’t attack until you piss them off. They simply just want to wander the world unbothered. Shadow Of The Colossus‘ story is not told with words or cut scenes but by its surroundings leaving the player to interpret things as they see them. Sure, the plot has a beginning and an end but how you approach the story is up to you.
There have been a few tweaks made to make the game a more enjoyable experience including subtle tweaks to the aiming system to allow for a more precise input and when pressing the button to aim the bow, the man turns to face the same direction as the camera. This makes aiming at the colossi a lot more fluid. Everything about the game feels tighter and small changes here and there give players a great reason to relive such a monstrous game.
Players can also tweak the game to their ideal playstyle. You can adjust the heads-up display to your liking, change the aim sensitivity, overlay graphical filters over the game and much more. The controls are much better, the jump command has been moved to the X instead of triangle and holding onto the colossi is done by pressing R2 and not R1 which is much more comfortable. You can change the controls to the original mapping if you prefer.
I’d suggest playing this game on a PlayStation 4 Pro if you can. You can boost the resolution to 4K or increase the frame rate to 60fps at 1080p. On the regular PlayStation, the game runs at a steady 30fps.
If you are looking for something new there is nothing to discover you haven’t found. The gameplay mechanics and boss battles are simplistic and repetitive and for those who have played this game more than once, you’ll have no problem whipping through it again. Hard mode is back for veterans while noobies can try a brand new Easy mode.
One question I still have about the game and perhaps it will reveal something new to diehard fans is these little glowing collectibles I stumbled upon a few times that I could pick up. There’s no information about them and nothing in the game’s menus regarding how many I’ve found.
Thirteen years later this game is still an incredible experience and I’d encourage everyone to give it another go (or try it for the first time). It’s a very special and memorable game that has aged very well. That eerie calm before fighting colossi still brings me so much joy and a game I’ll play for years to come.
I’ll leave you with this wonderfully weird clip from Reign Over Me where Adam Sandler’s character tries to explain Shadow of the Colossus to Don Cheadle’s character.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher on the PlayStation 4.