Team Ico is best known for their beautiful, if somewhat experimental, games. While the studio might be named after their first real hit, they’re perhaps best known for Shadow of the Colossus. The goal of this Shadow of the Colossus review is to give you an idea of the elements that define this much-loved game.
Shadow of the Colossus Overview
It’s fair to say that there hasn’t ever been a game like Shadow of the Colossus. It’s equally fair to say that Shadow of the Colossus is an outgrowth of almost every other third-person action game ever made. This Shadow of the Colossus review required not just thinking about the game, but about everything it represents.
This is, on its surface, a game about boss fights. While fighting bosses has become passé in western games, it’s still a huge part of how eastern games work. If you’ve ever played a game like Monster Hunter, for example, you know that you can build an entire game around hunting fantastic creatures.
Within this scenario, you can test the limits of your skills to bring them down. What you should understand during this Shadow of the Colossus review, though, is that there are deeper dives to be taken in that genre.
Shadow of the Colossus Main Storyline
A boy travels across a forbidden land in order to save the life of a girl. All he has with him is a sword, a bow, and a horse. All that stands between him and victory are giant monsters called Colossi. Each Colossus is different from its brothers, with its own unique role in the game’s world. Each must be destroyed, though, in order to allow the hero Wander a chance to bring Mono back to life.
If you feel like this Shadow of the Colossus review is taking a rather shallow look at the story of the game, it’s likely because you don’t understand how shallow the story really is. The plot absolutely feels like it is designed to evoke very specific archetypes, both in terms of its characters and the story beats.
While you haven’t played this game before, you’ll definitely feel like much of the story that is told is familiar. It’s that familiarity with which the game plays, especially towards the end. Like some of the best games on the market, it’s hard to get a good handle on the story without giving too much away.
Main Character Wander
It is, however, possible to talk about the game’s main characters. Wander is a driven young man, a mute hero in the vein of classic protagonists like Link. His only real interactions in the game are with his horse, Agro. He’s an imperfect hero, as you’ll come to find during the story, but it’s hard not to like him.
After all, you’ve guided similar protagonists through similar stories a thousand times before. He’s built to tug at your heartstrings because you’ve spent so much time as similar characters in the past.
Shadow of the Colossus Gameplay at First Sight
The Soothing Emptiness of the Game
During the course of this Shadow of the Colossus review, we were struck by how empty the game feels at times. This isn’t an emptiness that was born of rushed development or technological limitations, but one that is a creative choice.
That feeling of emptiness doesn’t just describe the world of the game – it holds true for every interaction. There are no trash mobs here, no little enemies to fight. There are also no NPCs with whom you can interact or shops at which you can upgrade weapons. Only Wander, his horse, the temple, and the Colossi populate the environment.
Just You Versus the Colossus
The game loop is very simple. Every time we booted up the game for this Shadow of the Colossus review, we went through the same process. We started the game, lifted our sword, and went where the light took us. From there, we found a Colossus and got to work.
The best way to describe the game is as a series of boss fights. You’ll square off against a Colossus and figure out how to chip away at its health by climbing up the creature and attacking its weak points. That’s it – no strange QTE events, no weird vehicle segments, just you versus the Colossus.
Pros and Cons of Shadow of the Colossus
- The Colossi are amazing creatures.
- Agro is perhaps the best horse in video games.
- Great music accompanies all the fights.
- Definitely a game that makes one think about the story.
- Great twist to the ending.
- Fantastic connection back to the designer’s other game, Ico.
- Truly unique spin on the idea of a boss rush.
- Clunky control scheme.
- Camera causes more problems than it should.
- Can feel needlessly complex.
- Story feels aimless for most of the experience.
- Final sequence lacks punch unless you’ve played Ico.
- Not a lot of progression within the game.
- Some of the Colossi could have used a rework.
- Visuals are largely pretty but still dated.
- Deus ex machina ending.
- Difficulty curve isn’t too steep, but it is too uneven.
- General lack of guidance.
- Wander: The main character of the story.
- Agro: Wander’s faithful steed.
- Mono: The girl at the heart of the story.
- Colossi: A group of mysterious, giant creatures. Some are hostile, some are peaceful.
- Ico: Team Ico’s previous game. There’s a connection here that we won’t spoil.
- Game visuals: 3/5.
- Gameplay and mechanics: 5/5.
- Storyline and lore: 4/5.
- Sound design and music: 4/5.
- Level of fun: 4/5.
- Playstation Network: Shadow of the Colossus
It’s hard to figure out where Shadow of the Colossus stands as a game. In terms of importance, this Shadow of Colossus review would definitely rank the game highly. It’s a fantastic twist on the formulas that we’ve come to take for granted for decades. Whether it’s fun, though, this is up to the individual gamer. If you love boss fights and minimalist design, it’s the perfect game. If you expect more – especially in terms of story – you won’t be satisfied.
What were your experiences like? Do you agree with this Shadow of the Colossus review?
Does Shadow of the Colossus deserve its status as a classic? Let us know!
Image source: PlayStation.com