In order to restore the life of a sacrificed young woman, you, Wander, steal a sword and venture into the Forbidden Land to find an entity rumored to be able to do it. Once there, you are tasked with defeating 16 colossi to make the restoration of her soul possible. All you have at your disposal is your faithful horse Agro, your sword, a bow, the strength to wield them and whatever wits you posses to solve the puzzles surrounding these giants and best them in hand to hand combat.
You have never played a game like Shadow of the Colossus. It is easily one of the most beautiful ones you will ever have on a console.
As you traverse the valley riding Agro, you begin to realize exactly how expansive and empty this Forbidden Land is. Nothing lives here in the ruins of what must have been a vast city scattered throughout the landscape, nothing except except for a few lizards, birds, fish and tortoise.
There is nothing to fight except the colossi.
As I played, I explored extensively and in 16 and a half + hours, I know I did not see everything. I was left with the certainty that this, this Forbidden Land, was exactly how the world of a Final Fantasy should be, ancient, open and explorable.
The battles with the colossi are straight forward, figure out how to climb on them, maybe damage their armor, and stab them in their glowing sigil until they die. It sounds easy, and it largely is, but only in concept, execution will take every bit of your tenacity, nerve and willpower to see it through.
The controls take a bit to get a handle on and I am not the biggest fan of grab/release/jump/grab ‘holy Hell it is a long way down’ ‘damn that camera angle is impossible’ games, I hate Prince of Persia with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, but Shadow is so balanced those moments are brief.
The colossi themselves, wow, beautifully done and the scale is never lost during game play, no matter how giant or more man-sized they are.
Replay-ability, Shadow has it. Once finished, you unlock ‘hard mode’ and ‘timed mode’ which has different weapons as rewards and you get to keep the strength and health you acquired by eating white tailed lizards and fruit, enabling you to reach secret places like the top of the Shrine of Worship later on.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of those games spoken of often, and in reverence, by those who have experienced it. It is difficult to describe how intense the tone is, the isolation, the focus, the atmosphere. Shadow honestly sets a standard that in retrospect, many games utterly and absolutely fail to reach.
Originally produced for the PS2, Shadow of the Colossus is available through the Playstation store on the PS3 and in stores bundled with the first legendary game this company produced Ico, both remastered in HiDef. The download version is not perfect but it is up to1080p and something any true gamer should experience.
Myself, I am going to move Ico up the list of games I need to play and be on the lookout for the next game The Last Guardian that has been in the works, hopefully with a PS4/PS3 release.