In 2005, Team ICO released their second game, Shadow of the Colossus. Fans saw it as a massive achievement for the PlayStation 2, with its large open world, its incredible soundtrack, and the jaw-dropping giants that are the colossi themselves. As the years have gone by, Shadow of the Colossus has become the prime example for those in favor of the “video games as art” argument. It’s heralded as one of the greatest games of all time, so does it really need to be remade?
The idea of a remake never crossed my mind until Sony’s press conference at E3 2017. It didn’t seem like something we needed, since the game is already fantastic without any changes. But then I saw it, and I thought of all the possibilities.
In the original version for the PS2, the world was dark and gloomy, and the textures were as you’d expect for a PlayStation 2 game. Don’t get me wrong, they were great for the time, but now, with the updated visuals, Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4 is breathtaking at every corner. The upgrade to the graphics raises the immersion, but the world feels the same. Nature is still mostly cloudy, but when the sun comes out, and it peeks through the trees, the game looks stunning.
The world of Shadow of the Colossus has always been a topic of debate. Cold and desolate aren’t really words synonymous with fun. It is, however, incredibly effective. It isn’t empty because of technical limitations; it’s an artistic choice. Everything about this game, from the story to the world, is shrouded in mystery. I always had questions: why is this part of the world deserted, and if no one is here, who built all these structures, and what is going on with all these giant beasts?
The best thing about this remake is just how little they changed. Except for the visuals, the game remains largely untouched. What they did add benefits the game in a lot of ways. The addition of a new collectible gives more reason to explore. Allowing the player to take their progress into any difficulty for New Game Plus makes replaying the game a lot more accessible.
Photo mode will probably be overlooked by most players, but it is surprisingly deep. With several different features, you can lose yourself trying to capture the perfect image. It allows you to zoom and spin the camera around to get the angle you want. There’s even a list of different filters you can apply. You can also leave these on as you play the game.
The updated control scheme makes the game much smoother to play. The climbing mechanics were always tense, with this sense of struggle that made it feel accurate to how clinging to a giant beast might in real life. In the original, it would often become frustrating trying to stay on. In the new game, keeping your grip doesn’t feel clunky, but it still retains that sense of realism. Being swayed back and forth from a colossus trying to shake you off its body, while your grip meter depletes, is both terrifying and thrilling.
This is an incredible video game. With a large open world, unique and memorable bosses, and a story that will leave you speechless, it’s not a stretch to say that it’s one of the greatest games ever made. The remake takes all those amazing things and amplifies them, leaving you with an experience like no other. The minor additions and improved visuals make this the ideal way to play Shadow of the Colossus.