What is Shadow of the Colossus?
Remade from the ground up, Shadow of the Colossus is a remastered version of the original Playstation 2 game of the same name (which itself was remade for the Playstation 3 in 2011), and which sees you stepping into the shoes of a nameless Wanderer, on a mission to slay the sixteen colossi of the Forbidden Lands. An adventure game that revolves entirely around boss fights, taking down these hulking great stone warriors is your only hope for reviving a dead girl - or so a mysteriously disembodied voice at the forbidden temple tells you. While it may not be the most trustworthy of sources, it appears to be the only option you have, and so off you trot on the back of your horse to set about finding and destroying each of the colossi - but of course, not everything is quite as it seems…
How do you play Shadow of the Colossus?
Your time in Shadow of the Colossus is generally divided into two parts - tracking down the next colossus, and defeating him with a mix of well-timed platforming leaps, light puzzle solving and quick sword slashes and dodges. With each colossus spread out over the sprawling Forbidden Lands, from beachside caves and lakeside ruins to hilltops and forests, figuring out where your next target is is half of the game. Fortunately, you have a magical sword that, when held up to the skies, generates a beam of blue light to lead you to your next colossus, albeit as the crow flies.
Each colossus is essentially its own boss fight, and you'll need to figure out a different strategy for defeating each one. Though some may be gigantic earthen birds, others are dog like beasts, while others still are humanoid, stone-armoured behemoths, each has a similar set of weak points that you'll need to figure out how to reach, and attack. For example, one early one is a bit too tall to simply leap at and clamber up, so you need to shoot the underside of his feet with arrows to make him bend down, letting you grab onto his hairy knees instead. Another large stone knight likes to swing his sword down - making the perfect ramp up to his arm - however, a large stone bracelet stops you from getting any higher up. A conveniently-placed metal plate in the ground can shatter the bracelet, if you can lure him over it and get him to whack it with his sword, giving you a relatively unobstructed path up to his head, save a bit of platforming and jumping between ledges.
How easy is Shadow of the Colossus to pick up and play?
Shadow of the Colossus isn't necessarily a hard game - but it can be a little obscure at times. With each colossus requiring a different strategy to beat, it's not always immediately obvious how you're supposed to defeat each one. While the disembodied voice will try to point you in the right direction, its instructions sometimes aren't that helpful - like telling you that the aforementioned bracelet colossus' armour is "weak and brittle", when what you have to do is make him hit his arm on the metal plate in the floor.
When climbing up a colossus, it's also worth noting you have a stamina gauge of sorts that dictates how long you can hold on for before your arms get tired and you fall to the ground. You'll need to plan your route carefully, and find appropriate places to let it rest and replenish, while climbing the colossi - which can be easier said than done, when it's busy bucking and trying to shake you off. Hunting down the glowing lizards you sometimes spot running around the wilderness can extend your stamina gauge and let you hold on for longer, making climbing up the colossi easier.
If you're struggling, Shadow of the Colossus does however come with three different levels of difficulty, with easy reducing the health of the colossi so they take less hits to defeat, whilst bolstering the health of your character, so you're less likely to die. Conversely, hard gives the colossi more health, your character less health, and adds extra glowing weak points to enemies to make defeating them more challenging. Unfortunately, you can only set your difficulty when starting a new game, rather than altering it part way through, should you find things are getting a bit tough.
In terms of accessibility, while the game is fully subtitled, all the voice acting here is in a made up language, so a solid reading ability is a must. While the story itself is a bit vague, the hints the game gives you can sometimes be pretty important to the overall experience - and with the text tending to be written in a fairly flowery, archaic style, it can be a bit hard to decipher for the less confident reader.
- "She was sacrificed for having a cursed fate. Please… I need you to bring back her soul..."
- "In this land there exist colossi that are the incarnations of these idols. If thou defeat those colossi -- the idols shall fall. But heed this, the price you pay may be heavy indeed."
- "Thy next foe is in a seaside cave… It moves slowly… Raise thy courage to defeat it..."
As part of your quest to resurrect a dead maiden, Shadow of the Colossus sees you defeating a number of giant stone colossi creatures. Players must scale their oversized bodies to reach the blue glowing glyphs on their backs and heads which indicate their weak points - by repeatedly thrusting their sword into said point, they can take down the colossus and defeat them. Sword thrusts are accompanied by large sprays of a black blood-like substance, and in one scene a character is shot in the leg with an arrow, and impaled in the chest with a sword. However, Shadow of the Colossus has no bad language or sexual content whatsoever.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4