A Tribute to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus
In the lifetime of Team Ico, the developer has published two amazing titles. Ico is a cult classic while Shadow of the Colossus is considered one of the greatest games of all time. Their third game, The Last Guardian, is currently in production, and with lead designer Fumito Ueda leaving the studio, this looks like it could be Team Ico’s last work. In honor and thanks of this fantastic developer, I would like to compound a timeline of the first two games, as they are in fact connected. Let’s have a quick synopsis of the two games, first.
Ico is about a boy sent to a castle to be sacrificed. Why? At the time, that was for you to interpret. The boy’s name, of course, is Ico. He escapes his cell, and finds a young girl in a cage in another room. After freeing her, the two work together to escape.
Shadow of the Colossus is about a man who heads to the Forbidden Lands to bring his lover back to life. He makes a deal with a spirit to kill the sixteen colossi in exchange for resurrection, but could have never known what was in store for him.
Something to note is that there is a large time gap in between the two games. However, there is a non canon book, called Ico: Castle in the Mist, which gives some backstory. Although not canon, I will be using it whenever its story doesn’t contradict either game.
I will also use speculation if it is commonly agreed upon in forums and the like. So, without further ado, let’s begin. Needless to say, there will be spoilers.
Chapter 1: Speculation
Part 1: In the Beginning…
There were two gods, known simply as the God of Light, and the God of Darkness. They immediately went to war to decide who was to create the world. The Light God won, but just barely. After he created the world, the Dark God began fighting back again, and began gaining ground. The result was the solar eclipse. Any child born under a solar eclipse would be a servant of the Dark God, inheriting his power. This will play a very important part in our story, but not yet. He also created chaos and evil, and whenever either ensues, the Dark God grows stronger.
Part 2: Dormin of the Forbidden Lands
One of the Dark God’s proudest creations was a demon named Dormin. Dormin rampaged across the land, until he came to the southern tip of the world. He destroyed everything here, and made it his home. A prodigal shaman, hearing of this deadly creature, decided he needed to be stopped. He traveled to this area of land and battled Dormin. Through quick and tactical thinking, he was able to absorb some of Dormin’s power into a sword. He then used that sword to defeat Dormin. The shaman used his power to create sixteen giants known as colossi. For their life essence, he used Dormin’s. This way, the demon could not be resurrected. The shaman named this area the Forbidden Lands. However, a bit of Dormin’s life essence remained, and hid in the shrine in the center of this area, the only building that wasn’t destroyed…
Part 3: The Shaman’s Sword
The shaman formed a village near the Forbidden Lands so he could keep an eye on Dormin. He told his people to never venture there. As the village grew, so did the common folk’s curiosity. All they knew was that when he made his pilgrimage to the Forbidden Lands, he brought a strange sword with him. There were speculations, however. One such speculation was that you could bring back the dead in the Forbidden Lands. One believer of this rumor was Wander, a militia archer. He had a lover named Mono, and he loved her more than anything in the world. However, she soon fell ill and died. Wander was desperate, so he snuck into the shaman’s house in the middle of the night and took his sword. Wander then took Mono’s body, climbed on his horse, named Agro, and headed for the Forbidden Lands.
Chapter 2: Shadow of the Colossus
Part 4: Wander and the Colossi
As Wander reached the forbidden lands, he saw a long bridge stretching across. The bridge ended at a large building, a shrine of sorts. He rode Agro into the shrine and laid Mono’s body on a slab of rock. Instantly, he heard a voice calling to him. It called itself Dormin, and said that it could resurrect Mono, in exchange for killing the sixteen colossi with the sword Wander stole. Wander agreed. Each colossus was a fight to be remembered, requiring Wander to use his brain to figure out how to defeat it. Every time a colossus died, a stream of black energy left the colossus and entered Wander and teleported him back to the shrine. Over time, his hair grew darker, and his face grew gaunter. He also began to wonder, am I doing the right thing? What did these colossi ever do to me? He continues his massacre, however, until he reaches the sixteenth colossus. At that point, he has to travel across a bridge to reach the edge of the world for a showdown with the final colossus. The bridge collapses, and his horse falls down the chasm. After mourning for a moment, he goes on to defeat the sixteenth colossus, who was the only inherently evil one.
Part 5: A Heavy Price
The shaman was a smart man. He knew of the relationship between Wander and Mono. He knew of the rumors of bringing back the dead. He knew, when he saw that his sword was stolen, what had happened. He gathered a small group of men and headed for the Forbidden Lands. They were too late, however. Wander had absorbed Dormin’s lost power, and was walking to the center of the shrine weakly. When the shaman saw this, he had an archer immediately shoot Wander, and then had one of his swordsmen stab him. However, Wander weakly continued to the stone slab to attempt to finally resurrect his love, before finally collapsing. Instantly, Dormin began laughing, and possessed Wander. He once again morphed into his demonic form. The shaman grabbed the stolen sword, now laying on the ground, and fled to the bridge leading back to land. When he reached the bridge, he looked down at the first floor and threw the sword into a pool of water at the ground, destroying it. Dormin screamed, and began to shrink into Wander’s form. Instantly, Wander’s will took over. The burst of light shot out of the pool, and began dragging him in. He struggled to stumble to the stone slab upon which Mono lay, but could not. He eventually gave in and fell into the pool. The shaman, his work done, rode back to the village, the bridge to the shrine collapsing behind him. Not all was lost, however. Dormin did indeed keep his promise before he died, as Mono opened her eyes once again. As she woke, Agro limped into the shrine. He somehow survived. Mono walked to the back of the shrine to find the empty pool, with a crying baby in the center. The baby had horns.
Chapter 3: Castle in the Mist
Part 6: The Queen
Remember what I said about the solar eclipse? A child was born under one, and she just so happened to be the daughter of the King and Queen. The Queen told the King to kill the child, but he believed that being born on a solar eclipse meant you could banish the darkness, instead of becoming it. So, by assassinating all of her siblings, the child later became the heir to the throne. We don’t know her name, as she is only referred to as “The Queen.” As she grew older, she developed powers over dark magic. Her power intensified as she became an adult. She had a daughter, and named her Yorda. At this point she was the most powerful organism in the universe. She poisoned her husband and used his life essence to lock up an artifact, known as the “Book of Light,” inside an isolated tower in her castle, named the “Tower of Winds.” This was the only artifact that could defeat her.
Part 7: The Tournament
Every few years, she would have a tournament at her castle. Fighters from all over the lands would come to prove their worth. The winner would be the master-at-arms for the Queen’s army. After three years, nobody heard from the champions again. What happened to them? One day, the Queen showed Yorda a secret chamber underground. What did the chamber hold? A statue of each and every tournament winner. I believe you can figure out what happened. Yorda was horrified, and secretly planned to align herself with any opposing force against her. One day, a man named Ozuma entered the tournament. He wielded an ordinary sword, so what was special about him? Two things. First, he was one of the greatest warriors who ever lived. Second, he had horns.
Part 8: Ozuma and the Holy Zagrenda-Sol Empire
I believe it is safe to assume that the horned child and Mono started a civilization together. I realize that they had to reproduce using only a woman, a baby, and a horse. Don’t think too much into it. Their civilization was on a peninsula to the east, and their people had horns. This is where Ozuma came from. His civilization formed a pact with a neighboring country known as the Holy Zagrenda-Sol Empire. They knew of the Queen’s power, and the “Priest King” decided to wage war. Ozuma was chosen to be on the inside, to know of the fate of the champions.
Part 9: The Attack
Yorda had an epiphany of her father. Through it, she received a ring that could get her into the Tower of Winds. She received the Book of Light and used it against her mother, but it was not enough. Her mother used her powers to turn the entire castle against her, but Yorda was saved by Ozuma in the nick of time. Together, they, along with the Holy Zagrenda-Sol Empire, invaded the castle. However, the queen left a decoy that the Priest King and Ozuma killed. Yorda knew it was a decoy, but she had a bit of sympathy for her mother. Thinking they killed the queen, they went back to the Empire.
Part 10: A Huge Mistake
However, the queen struck back. She turned the capital to stone, hoping to destroy the book. The Priest King, Ozuma, Yorda, and a small number of people escaped. They blamed it on Yorda. They realized that their best bet was to freeze the time around her castle. Yorda would offer the life essence to pull this off. So she was sent back to the castle. Ozuma volunteered to be her eternal guardian. He must have reproduced with someone to get his recessive genes into the population, because a decree was issued that every horned child born would be sent to the castle to assist Ozuma as shadow creatures. Yorda’s body and Ozuma’s sword were imbued with the Book of Light to keep the Queen at bay.
Part 11: The Horned Child
Thousands of years later, a boy named Ico was born with horns in a small village. The elder begins preparing him for his sacrifice. One day, the elder shows Ico the stone city atop a mountain. Ico pledges never to share what he has seen. His friend, Toto, was very curious about Ico’s journey, so he steals a horse to go to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, he runs into a projection of the queen. While he attempts to flee, he finds the Book of Light. It could not be destroyed. Book in hand, Toto receives several blasts of the queen’s icy breath, but nothing happens. He flees back to the village and shows the elder the book. As soon as the book leaves his hands, he turns to stone. After his grieving, the elder finds a design pattern in the book. He has his wife weave it into a tunic for Ico before he leaves. Then, his time comes. The priests take him to the castle.
Part 4: Ico
Part 12: Ico’s Escape
When the priests enter, they use Ozuma’s sword for passage inside, conveniently set on the dock for the priests. Inside, Ico is placed inside a stone sarcophagus. After the priests leave, the coffin spits him out; an effect of the enchanted tunic. He wanders a bit before finding Yorda stranded in a cage in the Tower of Winds. He rescues her, and the two make their journey through the castle. They try to exit through the front gate, but the Queen closes them before they can make it. Therefore, they go on a journey to try to open the gates again. They eventually manage to, but when they try to escape, the Queen takes Yorda and pushes Ico off the bridge. He lands on a cage dangling from the castle. He makes his way down to the castle sewers, where he finds Ozuma’s sword. He takes it with him as he makes his way back up toward the Sarcophagi room. There, he finds Yorda turned to stone, with the shadow creatures guarding her. He reluctantly defeats them all before entering the throne room, where he finds the queen waiting. She uses her powers to attempt to turn him to stone, but the sword protects Ico. He defeats her once and for all though he breaks both horns and is knocked unconcious. With her dead, the castle begins collapsing. However, the Queen’s power travels through the air to Yorda’s statue. She comes back to life and saves Ico, placing him on a plank. He floats away as the castle collapses around her.
Part 13: The End
When Ico wakes up, he is on a beach. He feels his horns. They are broken off. He stumbles down the beach until he sees a figure in the sand. He begins yelling toward it, and runs. He finds a girl in the sand. She no longer has the Queen’s powers, and she once again appears as innocent as she was before. As Yorda opens her eyes, Ico helps her up. He grabs a watermelon on the beach, and they share it. And that is the end of their journey.
That is also the end of the Team Ico timeline. My question is, what role will The Last Guardian play? Will it be before Shadow of the Colossus? After Ico? In between the games? Regardless, Team Ico has created a masterpiece of a universe, and I hope you have enjoyed me relating its entire history.