If you’re reading this review, you’re either very curious as to what all of the hype is about for Sony’s newest game or looking to see how the remake of Shadow of the Colossus holds up nearly 13 years since it’s debut on PS2. Let me be the one of many to tell you that if you haven’t played Shadow of the Colossus and own a PS4, BUY THIS GAME! If you have already played the original on PS2 or even the PS3 version, I still recommend to BUY THIS GAME!
Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 is, in every sense of the phrase, built from the ground-up to be one of the best-looking games on the console and undoubtedly the definitive version to play. The magicians behind this remake, Bluepoint Games, have truly outdone themselves. They somehow have managed to recapture the great things about Shadow of the Colossus, but unfortunately inherit some of the gripes from the original as well.
First off, the story. A wandering warrior and his trusty black steed, the sorrow of a lost loved-one (his sister or his girlfriend? You decide!), and what you’ll do to bring her back set the stage for the game’s bittersweet tale. With that motivation, a strange deity sets you on the trying journey to take down sixteen colossi of the forbidden land. Little to no dialogue is spoken in Shadow of the Colossus, so a lot of the story telling is done through the vast and empty environment you ride your horse in, as well as the sixteen colossi you defeat. A big part of the story is in its vague emotion and wonderment, which is told through the fantastic score. Riding on the backs of giants – it’s an enchanting and ingenious tale for a video game, one we all wished we could play at some point.
Just to give you an idea of how much of an upgrade Shadow of the Colossus got, check out this comparison video between the PS2, PS3, and PS4 versions.
The gameplay is fairly simple: find a way to bring down the massive colossus using the basic sword and bow. As the courageous warrior, you are able to climb onto these giants and stab its vital points, ultimately draining its health bar to nilch. It’s surely majestic to see the action on screen, and lying underneath are brain teasers on how to accomplish the task, as well as a lot of patience. You see, Shadow of the Colossus is known for a lot of things. It’s cumbersome controls and a camera that likes to fight against you more than the colossi in the game are a few of those things. Too many times did the horse choose to not respond in moments I wanted it to or the camera positioned itself at the last minute to make me mistime a jump. The camera fixes itself in most situations to emphasize a cinematic experience when all I wanted was to just see my surroundings. Bluepoint Games has updated the control scheme and even included the original button layout for those who want it, but there will be some frustrations with the controls. While shortcomings these are, it didn’t dampen my experience overall. However, it did make me think twice about playing again on hard difficulty.
For someone who has completed the original on PS2 and the updated PS3 iteration, I finished the remake just 5 minutes short of 5 hours. For newcomers, you’re looking at around 8 – 12 hours since defeating a colossus is its own puzzle and will require you to think outside the box, which will take some time (Hint: use your environment). Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 also comes with New Game+ and Time Attack modes, a Photo Mode to snapshot those amazing moments in various filters and angles to show off on Twitter, and Extras filled with unlockable concept art and cool comparison images between the PS2 and PS4 versions.
All in all, the remake accentuates the awe in discovery and scale with an astounding attention to detail for the colossi. It recaptures the deep, overwhelming feeling of seeing a colossus for the first time. The world we knew is rebuilt and looks better than ever, yet still very familiar. These experiences were something I remember feeling playing the game back in the late 2000s on a tube television, things I thought I could never feel again. Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 is haunting, beautiful, melancholy, and surreal, magically recreating those rare moments where you, the player, become so transfixed on what’s happening in the game and nothing else matters.
While the Shadow of the Colossus remake carries the gripes of its previous versions, they are not enough to ruin the experience on PlayStation 4. Shadow of the Colossus is a hauntingly beautiful and fantastical tale, one every gamer should experience. Play this game as soon as you can, and be ready for one hell of a ride.