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Although it is the third time Shadow of the Colossus is releasing on a PlayStation platform I had never played it up to now. I skipped the PS2 release and the PS3 version somehow went past me too. Here’s our Shadow of the Colossus Review .
I knew it was a masterpiece before I started up the PS4 version but I no idea what I was in for. Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most innocent yet mysterious experiences I have ever had in a game. It went from a tranquil walk through the forest to a high-octane showdown between me and a giant flying desert snake within minutes and the entire playthrough was just riveting.
You play as Wander, a young man who enters a forbidden land in search of a way to bring a girl named Mono back to life. The gods of the land instruct you to kill sixteen colossi in order to make your wish come true so you and your horse Agro set off to find these monstrous statues that live in the lands outside of the kingdom. With no NPCs to talk to, no dungeons to explore and no other enemies but the colossi to kill the game is focused on the goal at hand. In a way it allows you to truly absorb the beauty of it all as every one of the sixteen colossi dwells in a completely different location that comes to life thanks to the sights and sounds of the trip there and pre and post-battle scenes.
With these giant creatures living out of the area, the trip to get there does take some time, especially in the later fights as they are all quite the distance away. I used this time to take in the beauty of the game and fiddle with the photo mode. There is very little music in the game so this means these trips are filled with this sense of loneliness as Agro and Wander track across massive open lands to get to where they need to be. The room is filled with the sounds of Agro’s hooves hitting the ground, changing as he stands in water, sand, grass and rock. The gusts of wind blowing past you make you feel as if you are exploring an untapped land that creates this superb sense of discovery.
Wander is equipped with a sword that when held up directs him to his next target with a beam of light. This beam can only be activated in sunlight so I often got lost as I ventured into a tall mountain valley where the sun was blocked by giant hills that towered above me. The entire scale of the game is brought to life by these environments and there was never moment where I did not stop and take in just how stunning it all comes together and how small Wander looks in this vast landscape.
The same can then be said for the colossi who are the stars of the game. Each one more ferocious than the last and some bigger than others but no matter the size or shape of it they all had one thing in common, they all offered a unique way to approach them and kill them. While slaying a colossus revolves around the same thing, driving the sword into a glowing part of their body, it is the journey to that spot that makes it so rewarding. Every colossus is unique and their body and behaviour need to be understood in order to survive the fight. The game starts off easy with a simple climb up a leg to stab a spot and before you know it you are soaring through the clouds atop a dragon trying to fight the winds as you grip its fur slowly nudging yourself towards the targeted spot.
Wander can grip furry spots with the R2 button and holding down square would charge the sword drive up and deal damage to the colossus if you are in the right spot. Some of them even require some brains as they need to be shot of out the air, or even scared off a cliff by a burning stick you found on the floor. These challenges are never extremely hard but they do need patience and time to master. If you miss a chance to leap onto Avion’s wings as she soars past you then you will have to wait a minute or so before you can try again. Some fights even need Agro to help you out as the sheer size of these monsters require fast movement to get behind them so you can climb them. Phalanx, for example, has to be my favourite fight as its probably as long as an airport runway and once you are on its back it takes you into the sky where my toes even started to tingle from the view above.
Every colossus will try and shake Wander off as he climbs it but it is all about timing your movements so they do not kick him off while you are holding down the grab button. If you are on a platform that is attached to the colossus then holding down R2 would let him crouch to get more stability while it is trying to kick you off too. Wander has a stamina meter that depletes the longer you hold on but if you are not climbing or gripping a body part it refills quite easily. Using arrows can distract the creatures and often you need them just to shoot a body part to bring it down from the sky. Other colossi can then also be brought down by the environment too. All these things you need to discover when you start the fight as the game does not hold your hand at all.
In the end, Shadow of the Colossus delivered sixteen intense fights but it was the journey to them and the exhilarating rush that they packed into them all that made the game something so unique. The PS4 version looks superb with HDR bringing new life into the world you explore and the 4K resolution boosting it all beyond spectacular. If you compare the two games you would think that they are the completely different from the visuals fidelity, and sound design is truly remarkable. Of course, we then have the Photo Mode which is just fantastic. With the game looking so great the mode lets you take snaps of your favourite moments and to make it even better you can actually play the entire game with one of the filters enabled.
Available On: PS4 | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 7 February 2018 | RRP: R629
This review is based off a review copy provided to us by Sony Interactive Entertainment.