A piece of art can influence a person in many different ways. Depending on how the individual views the piece and their state of mind at the time of a viewing, the artwork can trigger varying responses and feelings. Much like a painting or sculpture, Shadow of the Colossus has the power to speak through its imagery and to move the spectator by triggering emotions by means of the game’s atmosphere, setting, narrative, and musical score. Shadow of the Colossus was a work of art in 2005 when it first saw release for the PlayStation 2, and the title now exemplifies its status as a timeless masterpiece with the recent PS4 release.
Remastering a title like Shadow of the Colossus is one of great risk, as a single deviation from the original can radically alter the experience one has with this powerful and moving title. Nevertheless, the folks of Bluepoint Games were up to this colossal challenge and were able to bring Shadow of the Colossus to PS4 with modern visuals, improved controls, and impressively managed to preserve the essence of the original release.
What makes Shadow of the Colossus such a powerful force and memorable game is its compelling narrative. The tale of Wander – the game’s protagonist, is as emotional as it is moving. It is a story of loss, sacrifice, and of steadfast conviction. Expanding on the finer elements of the game’s story would diminish the impact it would have on the player. It is best to experience Shadow of the Colossus in as pure of a state as possible. To have the narrative unfold before you and to immerse oneself in the story, the characters, and the setting is the ultimate way to play Shadow of the Colossus on PS4.
The adventure takes the player to the Forbidden Lands – a desolate region and the habitat of the colossi. With the exception of the colossi, the Forbidden Lands are populated by birds and other tiny primitive creatures. Minimalist in terms of design, the Forbidden Lands are grand in scale and filled with breathtaking sites. You will often stop and appreciate the scenery on display. The setting is a key character in this journey and it makes its presence known through a powerful atmosphere that conveys a sense of emotion for each distinct region of the land.
Progressing through Shadow of the Colossus is linear, but this an aspect of the game’s narrative. You are given guidance on the location of each colossi and it is with the colossi that the game introduces puzzles and a greater sense of exploration. Each of the game’s 16 colossi serve as living puzzles that you must solve and overcome. With each colossi having distinct weak points and behavior patterns, you must first understand the nature of the colossi before engaging it in battle, as some are aggressive and others passive.
Battling the colossi requires patience and strategy. Often, you have to exploit a weakness of the colossi – like finding an exposed area of fur on their body or a well-placed arrow to temporarily down the beast, to gain an upper hand in battle. Weak points can be located by shining your sword; however, helpful tips will be given if you fail to make progress in your battle with the colossi.
Each encounter with colossi feels epic. The struggle to overwhelm your towering foe is an exhausting, yet rewarding effort.
As much as the gameplay and setting are integral parts of the experience, one must also acknowledge the soundtrack. The sound effects and musical score heighten the tension of battle and give a scene a strong sense of emotion that can send shivers through your entire body. You feel what the characters are feeling thanks to the perfect pairing of visuals and sound.
If you are familiar with the PS2 original or the HD version of Shadow of the Colossus for PS3, then you won’t find any new content in this PS4 remake. Nevertheless, what you get is a beautiful rendition of an all-time classic. We played Shadow of the Colossus on a standard PlayStation 4 and were awe-struck by the visuals and performance of the title. The steady framerate and remapped controls make the adventure far more enjoyable when compared to the previous two versions, and the visuals will impress all who gaze upon it.
Some purists may find the new visual style removes a bit of the environmental atmosphere and that Wander’s personality is absent. The lack of facial expression on Wander is noticeable and doesn’t make the character’s motives less clear when compared to the original release.
Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 4 further demonstrates how timeless of a classic that Shadow of the Colossus truly is. The story remains a potent and emotional adventure that will bring tears to many. The gameplay is masterfully crafted and when combined with the beautiful soundtrack, you are left with a moving experience unmatched by any game to ever release. Bluepoint Games successfully brought Shadow of the Colossus to modern home console hardware and made it feel at home.
[Editor’s Note: A copy of the game was provided by Sony for review purposes.]