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Review: Shadow of the Colossus (remake) Remains a Must-Play On PS4

Admittedly, I never played Shadow of the Colossus when it first released back in 2005 for PlayStation 2. I also skipped the HD remastered version when it released on PlayStation 3 in 2011. Then I played SIE Japan Studio’s The Last Guardian on PS4, and it opened my world to the works of Team Ico. From that moment, I decided I would not skip the Shadow of the Colossus remake – and it definitely did not disappoint.

If you’ve already played Shadow of the Colossus, then you probably don’t need any additional convincing as to why to double, possibly triple dip into this game. Shadow of the Colossus had already been considered an iconic game for many. This remake improves upon it with enhanced visuals and a reworked control scheme that modernize a classic gaming experience.

Simple premise, gorgeous vistas

The design and premise of Shadow of the Colossus is fairly simplistic, but effective nonetheless. You explore a vast world in search of 16 unique and astonishing beasts (colossi) to slay in order to restore the life of a comatose woman who clearly means a lot to your character. The backstory is never fully fleshed out, but it’s enough to inspire your journey on this remarkable quest that’ll surely have a lasting effect on you.

Shadow of the Colossus

From the moment you step foot in this world, you’ll be struck by the breathtaking visuals. The sheer vastness of the landscape is stunning. The hand-crafted environment aided by an improved lighting system that enhances the beauty as you transition between the various biomes ranging from lush forests to sand blown deserts to dark interiors.

Exhilarating from start to finish

The colossi you encounter are equally as impressive. There are no trash mobs or minions in the game, so every encounter you have with a colossus is a memorable one – whether it be the puzzle design, the creature design, or the brilliant score that accompanies it.  Each of the 16 colossi are unique, both in design and in the puzzles they present to the player. There’s an initial moment of awe (and sometimes terror), but it is quickly replaced by curiosity. You’ll find yourself studying these creatures – some docile, some aggressive – as you learn their distinctive movements and behaviors to map out the path to the top.

Of course, executing on your plan is a whole other challenge, especially for the more aggressive colossi. The game makes use of a “stamina” meter of sorts that ticks down the longer you hang onto the creature while it shakes you around. There’s an alarming intensity that creeps up as you see the bar tick away while you anxiously make your way to a nearby safe ledge to regain your stamina and formulate your next step. Unfortunately, sometimes the sheer size of these beasts can lead to some overcorrecting by the camera and result in some awkward angles that make it difficult to see where to go next.

The tools you have at your disposal are minimal at best – only a sword, a bow, and your trusty horse Argo. You’ll have to master each of these to successfully take down the beasts, and when you do, you’ll be left with mixed emotions. Of course, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment as you conquer this massive colossus, but I also found myself feeling guilty with each successful hunt. These creatures feel alive, and killing these majestic beasts left me torn.

Shadow of the Colossus

Closing thoughts

All of these encounters feed into an incredibly emotional story about love and sacrifice. The moral dilemma you face with each encounter is driven home by the fact that defeating these beasts isn’t met with the typical celebratory fanfare you’d expect after a boss fight. There’s a reason for that. As a newcomer to Shadow of the Colossus, I probably take these improved graphics for granted. But a story is something that doesn’t rely on pixel count – and Shadow of the Colossus has one of the best I’ve experienced in a game.