Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment (2005)
Reviewed by Steve, added on Nov 23 2006
Shadow of the Colossus is the story of Wander. Wander takes a princess to a secret alter in a distant magical land to try to restore her to life. Whatís wrong with the princess you ask? She has a cursed destiny. Want to know what that means? Me too. Too bad though, the game never really tells you. Wander seeks aid from Dormin who can restore the princess to life. But in return Wander must kill 16 gigantic beats called Colossi. And thatís about it. You get a little bit more story after about your 12th defeated colossus but thatís very close to the end of the game so I wonít spoil what little story there is for anyone.
Shadow is a pretty unique game. Itís a series of 16 boss battles. No more, no less. There are no townsfolk, no lesser enemies, no interaction with anything but your horse and the colossi. This land isnít completely lifeless, just mostly. There are birds in the sky (which you can try to kill with your bow and arrow), tree fruit which you can get to increase your grip meter, and lizards which you can shoot with your bow and arrow and then eat their tails to increase your life.
After Dormin tells you which colossus to hunt, you hop on your horse and track it down. You hold your sword up and the light reflected off of it from the sun points you in the direction to go. The land here is vast and youíll cover just about all of it tracking down your prey. Once you find the colossus the real game begins.
Each colossus has a weak spot somewhere on its body. Some have more than one. You have to somehow climb up the colossus and attack that spot. Did I mention that the colossi are the size of mountains? No? Well they are. You climb them, hang on for dear life, and try to take them down. Each battle plays out the same way. Each colossus has a different attack pattern. You observe their pattern and look for an opening to begin your climb. Sometimes itís blatantly obvious. Other times you really have to use your head. The absolute best part of the game is the music. When youíre on the ground starring up at the huge best the music is sad, almost gloomy. Full of despair. But once you find a way onto the colossus it changes into the beautiful heroic melody. It got me more into the fight than any other game Iíve played in recent memory. Once on the bastard you have to pay close attention to your health and grip meter. The colossi have hair and ledges all over their body which you must utilize on your way to the top. But they donít go down easy. Falling off of one of them takes a good chunk off of your health and once you die, you have to start the fight again from the beginning. They shake and twist and turn and swat at you and all you can do is hang on and hope that your grip holds. Then itís just a matter of slowly finding your way to the juicy spot to stab.
What makes this game great however is also what keeps it from being perfect. Taking down one of these mountains is certainly a blast, but doing nothing but gets old. Fast. I played the game until I had taken down the first ten bosses and then lost all interest in the game for a long time. It was at least a month before I picked up the controller again and finished the game. The bosses are all pretty varied but they play the same way. Find opening. Exploit. The last bosses are of course a lot harder than earlier ones but the only extra challenge comes in how long it takes to make the opening present itself.
Repetition aside I really had a blast with this game. Its gorgeous, plays like a gem, and thankfully not frustrating to point where you want to smash something. Well maybe something small. The only thing really missing from the game is a little background on who exactly these people are. But since the emphasis is on killing mountains and not telling a story, we can let that slide for now. Great game. Just take a break from time to time and donít try to blast through it as fast as you can. Youíll find yourself putting down the controller a lot sooner than you should that way.