In the long shadow of the mountains to the north, the giant treads. Its footsteps resonate down through darkened passages and beyond, to the restless plains below. As this lumbering colossus bears down upon the small figure in its path, the sunlight lingers upon a blade, drawn forth with purpose.
And so Shadow of the Colossus steps back into the light, with a second remastering for the PlayStation franchise. The developmental maestro of porting, Bluepoint Games, has accepted this task of resurrection. And by its breathing new life into this old beast, fans will once again have a chance to tackle the 16 unique bosses that dwell within the Forbidden Land.
The gameplay of Shadow of the Colossus has seen minimal modification, save for an optional updated control scheme. This is a blessing for purists, but perhaps a curse for newcomers. Protagonist Wander’s clunky movement and limited visibility due to the camera are frustrating on occasion, and very much a relic from a bygone era. A modern controllable camera, even made available as an option, would have made for a far more enjoyable trip down memory lane.
The game's story and characters have not changed in the slightest, despite director Fumito Ueda having shown some interest in tinkering with his own work. From the first words spoken by Dormin to Wander 'til the game's conclusion, all has been kept true to the original telling. However, much has already been written about this facet of the game, so I will refrain from retreading that same well-worn path.
What does distinguish this particular release is the complete overhaul of the game’s visuals, which are now immeasurably superior to the previous PS3 port. Bluepoint has built every asset in the game from scratch, while using much of the original PS2 code underneath for the gameplay. The result is a remarkable achievement that maintains the atmosphere and colour of the 2005 game, while making it look as if has been developed for the present generation.
Every colossi’s physical features are now laced with intricate detail, and fur that shifts and sways has replaced the tired old meshes of yore. Animations have been tidied up for all the game’s characters, and look silky smooth when running on the PS4 Pro’s 60fps performance mode. This new visual package, complete with the same wistful soundtrack that haunts the player’s journey, combine to form an incredible piece of digital artwork. This is the definitive version of Shadow of the Colossus.
However, whether this remake warrants a purchase will ultimately rest on whether a six hour game is worth the asking price. Many returning fans will no doubt have pre-ordered simply to have Wander and Agro grace their TV screen once more. But make no mistake, this is the same game from 2005, albeit prettier.
You can’t unlearn how to beat the colossi, who react in the same predictable fashion on each playthrough, and as such, only new players will have a challenge reaching the Shrine of Worship for the final time. And while the journey is enthralling, it ends quickly, and with little reason to be played through again.
Shadow of the Colossus is often cited as one of the greatest, most influential, and most emotionally affecting games of all time. It is also frequently offered as evidence that video games are indeed art. Certainly, it was a landmark game for its time, and remains awe-inspiring to this day. However, like its gigantic enemies, its design is now ancient, and that slightly diminishes a game whose vast stature has grown to myth-like proportions over the years.