Shadow of the Colossus Review: Even Better the Second Time

If there’s one game you should show your mother to prove video games don’t melt your brain, and can, in fact, exceed her artistic expectations, it’s “Shadow of the Colossus.” Remastered for the PS4 from the PS2, it feels like an entirely new experience when you traverse through “The Forbidden Land’s” peaceful scenery, which contrasts the tone of the incredible battles you’ll have with the behemoth Colossi. The game’s visuals far exceed anything you would expect from a recreation, even for the PS4’s advanced tech.

From the open-cutscene, where your character steps unto the Shrine of Worship and lays a deceased girl on a pedestal, to the end credits, the tone of the game is simple and effective. A mysterious entity, Dormin, guides your mission to defeat the sixteen colossi of The Forbidden Lands to revive the aforementioned woman. You aren’t given much information from the get-go, but the presentation in tone makes this all the more effective. As you gallop through the abandoned deserts and grassy fields, the lack of music and enemies alleviates you and tells you everything you need to know about where you currently are. When you scale the shattered remains of a castle, and speed through vast terrains, you understand that this land has an extended history of abandonment. Top it all off with unbelievable 1080p, 60 frames-per-second visuals, and you have a perfect atmosphere for a video game.

Gazing upon a colossus for the first time is an amazing experience on its own. The sheer disadvantage in size and mortality is sure to intimidate any player who becomes fully invested. The inability to fit the enormous glowy-eyed enemy on your TV screen emits fear of the unknown.

There is a literal handful of human models in the game, and the developers surely took advantage of this by giving your character one of the most descriptive motions and realistic physics ever conceived in a video game. When you scale the furry giant, your character will move in every conceivable direction when shaken; it’s as if you were on the beast, amplifying the immersion exponentially. The colossi have one to three weak points, each requiring a revved-up stab. Each fight turns this action-adventure into a type of puzzle game, and when you find out how to get to that weak point, that first stab grants instant satisfaction. The only problem with this choice of game design is, unless you attempt time attacks or harder difficulties, the replayability drops significantly.

While the visuals have been updated, the same can’t be said about its stubborn camera. In attempts to offer the player a more cinematic experience, it sacrifices player freedom. The frustration begins when you attempt to see your enemies placement on the battlefield and the camera pans back to its default position. If the camera were to focus where the player pans it, this issue can easily be avoided.

“Shadow of the Colossus” is an experience that fulfills players need for an unforgettable story told with subtlety. It lets you take a break from games with constant action, and allows you to slow down and see the bigger picture. The PS4 once again exceeds technical expectations and makes this one of the most impressive remasters ever.

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