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Game Review: Shadow of the Colossus



Are video games art? This is an argument that has been going on in the media for some time now. When the non-believers ask for an example, there is one game we all point to: Shadow of the Colossus. I owned a Gamecube during the 6th generation, so I wasn't able to experience this title the first time around. I bought the HD version last October, and I wasn't sure what to expect. To make a long story short: it's now my second favorite game of all time.

Gameplay: There are only sixteen enemies in this entire game. They are all boss battles. While this may not seem like much, each boss could take up to an hour if you don't know its weakness. You are dropped into an open world known as the Forbidden Lands, and you have to seek out each Colossus. You have a magical sword that shows you the way. When you find a colossus, you have to examine your enviornment. What here can help me? What can I climb up? One thing is essential, though. You can scan the Colossus with your magical sword to see its weak point. That's a good place to start so you can learn where to climb. Unlike most games involving climbing, you have a stamina meter. When it runs out, you let go and fall to the ground, likely losing a good chunk of health and opening yourself up to attack. As the game goes on, your health and stamina increase. This RPG element doesn't make it easier, though, as the bosses require more climbing as the game goes on.

Art Style: This game, while looking more realistic than Ico, still retains an artistic art style. Green is a dominating color here, but the Forbidden Lands has a variety of enviornments with many different colors, such as deserts, lakes, and even city ruins.

Story: Wander's lover, Mono, has somehow died. He steals the sword from the village Shaman and heads for the Forbidden Lands, where legends say people can be resurrected. Upon entering through the Shrine of Worship, he meets Dormin, a spirit who tells him he must kill the sixteen colossi to resurrect Mono. Wander travels to all four corners of the map, killing the colossi, one at a time. As he does so, he begins to wonder if what he is doing is really righteous. Is the life of one woman worth the deaths of sixteen colossi?

Lasting Appeal: The story is about twelve hours long. After that, you unlock Time Attack Mode, which can earn you some cool weapons and armor for your New Game+, which lets you keep your upgraded health and stamina so you dominate the colossi. You also unlock Hard Mode, which warrents a whole new playthrough. After you beat Hard Mode, you unlock Hard Time Attack Mode, which will have you going insane in frustration. After beating all hard time attacks, you get the ultimate weapon. I won't spoil it, but it references Ico. After all that, there are over one hundred lizards to collect, which increase stamina. There are also over one hundred fruits to collect, which increase health. After you complete all of this, there is still a secret area for you to find. Hint: It has to do with the Shrine of Worship.

Gameplay: 9/10 This game really takes the cake in its combat. While having only boss battles may not work for you, I felt it added a sense of loneliness. This game has the excitement of an action game while having the thinking of a puzzle game, and it blends almost flawlessly. I hear there are a few framerate issues, but I played this on Ps3, and therefore didn't encounter them.

Art Style: 9.5/10 Remember that this is a Ps2 game. It was agreed to have the best visuals back then. In its HD release, it still holds its own in being one of the best looking games to date.

Story: 8.5/10 The story is a bit vague, but the feeling you get when you kill colossi who weren't even attacking you in the first place gives you a feeling of regret. (There are two that don't attack you on sight, by the way.) I loved the ending that ties it all together, as I wasn't sure whether to consider it happy or sad. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation, though. If you played Ico first, like I did, you will get much more out of the ending.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10 While technically there is a lot of stuff, collecting fruits and lizards isn't my idea of "fun." Although this is an open world game, there really isn't much to explore. The time attacks and hard playthroughs are awesome, though. There is also the goal of reaching the "secret area" I mentioned earlier. Another hint: It requires a LOT of stamina.

Overall: 9/10 This is my second favorite game ever. Although I felt the world wasn't quite big enough, everything else seemed almost perfect in my eyes. I only rated the story eight points because I think its vagueness would turn off some players. (*cough* Traaginen *cough*) For a Ps2 game, this is a must buy. Even if you own a Ps3, I would buy this. This is something every gamer should experience.


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Played this game very little, but I enjoyed it immensely. Just the scale of the bosses is amazing in itself. And the last fight is pretty epic.

Great review Squishy. You may persuade me to buy a cheap copy.

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I remember playing that. I was quite young when I bought it, so it was one of those things I never quite completed. It was definitely a great game, specifically the scale as Blex mentioned. The story is intentionally vague, and many people love it like that. I personally thought it needed some direction, but meh. That's not what the game was about.

Is there any difference between the normal and HD version? Seems like some kind of marketing ploy.

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Is there any difference between the normal and HD version? Seems like some kind of marketing ploy.

No, there isn't. The selling point is the HD and the fact it's bundled with Ico. Ico HD gets the improvements of co-op, an alternate ending, and improved puzzle design.

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Yeah this game was very enjoyable but......wait did you say the HD had an ALTERNATE ENDING!?!?!? 0_0 I would love to know the details on that!

No, I said Ico HD had an alternate ending. It's not all that different, but it's something.

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