The PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus is one of 2018's most anticipated games. The achievement is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the game is indeed a remake; the 2005 original is already considered one of the best games on the PlayStation 2. Despite all this, the game remains borderline obscure, a cult favorite that many people might only recognize as the one with the big monsters. But the story behind Shadow of the Colossus is so much deeper and richer than that.
SotC is a unique puzzle game: there are none of the stereotypical towns or buildings through which players have to travel, nor are there other characters with which a player interacts, other than the 16 massive colossi that stand in the way of the quest: trespassing forbidden land to bring a dead lover back to life. The game is minimalist in both its art and story: how can a game with less than 20 characters be great or even compelling?
But it's the enigmatic world sprawled before the player (a character named Wander) that makes the game not only great and compelling but also a true gem: each of the 16 colossi has different characteristics that have to be explored, identified, and exploited in order to defeat it. Many of the colossi don't even want to fight, and Wander's internal struggle becomes apparent as he kills more colossi and breathes more and more life back into his love even while he drains his own life in the process. It is a true, emotional journey, a lonely quest made captivating by hulking forms on the horizon and the puzzle-challenges you have to solve along the way, all set to a soaring soundtrack.
Shadow of the Colossus is back and better than ever — here's why the game continues to thrill, enthrall, and stand out even in a very saturated selection of video games.
Wander rides across a long bridge on his horse, Agro, entering the forbidden lands. That's where the story begins. Wander carries an ancient sword he's stolen, the only weapon capable of destroying the colossi of these foreboding territories. He also carries the lifeless body of his love, Mono, hoping to find a way to resurrect her in the place he must not go. As Wander enters the land, he's pursued by wraiths, which he cuts down with the sword. In doing so, a great power stirs, and god addresses him.
Wander's wielding of the ancient sword is what captures Dormin's attention, and the god speaks to him from above. Dormin answers Wander's pleas to bring Mono back to life by informing the man of the idols surrounding the Shrine of Worship in this forbidden land, how these idols represent 16 colossi roaming this forgotten place. If Wander slays all 16, the idols will be destroyed, and a power capable of reviving Mono will be unleashed. But in the process, Dormin warns him, Wander could suffer grave consequences.
Wander will let nothing stand in his path to returning his love to life, so you set out on your quest to begin killing colossi, one by one. With each giant beast slain, an idol is destroyed, and the pale form of Mono regains some of her color. However, with each life taken, so too does Wander lose color, becoming paler, and even streaked more and more with great black veins crisscrossing his skin.
The colossi are quite varied. Some fly, some swim, some navigate the earth with two, four, or no legs. They are all, obviously, gigantic, though they vary a lot in size, too. Some are humanoid, bipedal creatures, a blend of both man and beast, while others are purely bestial, and still others perhaps neither. What they do share in common is that they are comprised of both biotic and inanimate pieces. They have organic elements like fur or eyes, but they also have inorganic elements, like rock, and even great chunks of architecture.
The known Colossi are called Valus, Quadratus, Gaius, Phaedra, Avion, Barba, Hydrus, Kuromori, Basaran, Dirge, Celosia, Pelagia, Phalanx, Cenobia, Argus, and Malus. As each one is slain, its body is left as a great mound upon the earth, and from each of those remains, a column of light stretches to the heavens.