It has often been cited as one of the most prominent and influential titles in the video-game industry. It received high-acclaim from critics and audience-members alike, along with strong sales compared to its predecessor. Gamers can often be some of the most insecure of any fans of an entertainment medium. They crave respect, and for whatever reason want video-games to be perceived as art. (Even though, video-games are above art.) Shadow of the Colossus is often regarded as an important example of why it should be seen as such.
Shadow of the Colossus doesn’t offer much in the way of storytelling, at least not in the vague sense. There isn’t a whole lot of character development and/or explanation to the story. The little amount that is plainly disclosed in the storyline is that it focuses on a young man named Wander who enters a land that is considered forbidden.
He wishes to restore the life of a girl named Mono, and wants to do so by defeating sixteen different colossi. It is unusual, but the experience offers no towns or dungeons to explore, no characters to interact with, and no enemies to defeat other than the colossi, something rarely seen in the action genre.
I reckon that the first thing we should talk about is the graphics and visual imagery present in the game. After all, it is widely considered as one of the widest redeeming factors for Shadows of the Colossus as a whole. It operates with a minimalistic style. The idea of “less is more” and a more through subtraction way of thinking. It works more than it misses, most certainly, and there is a lot of appeal from a visual standpoint.
It all is a little nondescript and plain during some aspects, some areas look a lot of alike, and so it’s not exactly sheer brilliance. Also, I thought the colors were a little bright and saw others complaining about the “headache inducing” visuals. I don’t think they were that problematic, but they definitely can become a little piercing after prolonged exposure. If nothing else, the graphics are intriguing and usually capable of capturing the themes that are expected from them.
The atmosphere is rightfully held to a high-regard in-terms of presence, but there are some moments bleaker than I would have liked for them to be. Particularly the parts when you are wandering about the area. Thankfully, when you battle a colossi, most of the time, it is enabled the means to really shine and prosper.
Beyond this, I think my favorite part of Shadow of the Colossus is actually the score. The music really adds a lot to the experience during the boss-battles and makes it easy to become immersed in the game-play.
The story isn’t nearly as in-depth and psychological as everybody would like to believe, at least not in my opinion. Shadow of the Colossus’ less is more approach can only propel it forward so much. There comes a time when less becomes nothing. The cut-scenes are certainly ambitious and attempt at forming something through body-language, solitude, and invoking the imagination of the gamer, but that can only carry so much.
There isn’t very much character development, not a whole lot of explanation, and that doesn’t necessarily hurt what it offers, but I don’t see it with the same brilliance as others. I feel like there is a lot that is meaning to come off with artistic merit, but the thing about a lot of artistic merit is that if it’s presented in such a way that doesn’t immerse the gamer during, then the first play-through isn’t much of a success. There are certain things that I didn’t see that others did. A lot praised the long moments riding horse-back without music. They say that it allows contemplation and a continued feeling of being immersed.
I don’t feel that way at all. I feel more like four of the eight hours that I spent playing Shadow of the Colossus was spent riding on a horse with no music. It’d be different if the story had more worth reflecting over, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t offer you anything from a storyline standpoint. And so, I am sitting there riding a horse, … bored. I like to make stories in my head during some video-games. Like, maybe in Grand Theft Auto, I pretend to be a member of a Mafia or something, and stalk people. (Rubix is a safe zone to talk about this, right?)
It’s fun, but Shadow isn’t a sandbox experience. (Well, I mean, there’s a lot of sand, so I mean, well, I … uh.)
The game-play is a mixed bag for me. Even if they are mostly positive, a lot of critics pinpoint the controls for being outdated and messy. When I first started, I agreed with this assessment full-heartedly. I think I’d say that they grew on me for the most-part though. The movements while on a horse definitely needed some revision and flushing out, but during the boss-battles, I thought they offered a unique and different way of fighting. I liked the grip and I liked the climbing abilities, very ahead of their time. I will say the camera-angle was a burden. Some aspects were much more difficult than they needed to be because of it. For example, it will often make me focus on the colossi whether I want to or not.
The game-play itself is where it becomes a little troublesome. I noticed a handful of glitches, all of which, thankfully, I was able to move past. I’ll allow those since, like I said, reloading the saved file was enough to fix it. Unlike something like Tomb Raider: Underworld where I was completely out of luck. Also, I meant what I said about the horse-riding. I spent too much time on a horse, and too little time actually fighting colossi. I feel like I can legitimately say that I spent five of the eight hours looking for the colossi.
And considering that I’m hardly what I’d called a skilled-gamer, I feel like somebody else could have easily beaten the bosses quicker. Admittedly, a lot of the time on horseback for me was because I couldn’t find the colossi. The sword helps point you in the direction, but once you get close, it stops working off the assumption that you can find it.
This is where I had trouble.
As said, there are no enemies to fight besides the colossi, which makes this a little dreary and desolate. I assume this is for a suspenseful or isolated feeling, but it was lost on me.
Let’s talk about what everybody cares about when it comes to game-play. I liked fighting the colossi. I don’t think they offered enough variety to keep things entertaining though.
Five of the sixteen colossi were really fun, but the other eleven were usually the same thing with a different coat of paint. You climb, find the vitals, and stab. Thankfully, some of the bosses add diversity and variety to the equation and keep things interesting. I particularly liked the first flying boss, the one with the pillars, the worm, and the final boss. (I probably could have looked those up to give an exact name, but alas, ’twas not meant to be.)
I had a lot of trouble with the final boss, but I really liked it. I feel like the wind was a little unnecessary. (it added more of a nuisance than a challenge) Overall though, I thought it was a nice, challenging boss-battle and one of my new personal favorites.
In conclusion, Shadow of the Colossus succeeds with artistic merit. I liked the music and the graphics. However, it is not without fault. A very short run-time, lack of variety, bad camera-angle, and overly minimalistic story might often be left out from some reviews citing critical acclaim. However, it does offer enough to be worth your time. It isn’t a bad game by any means, I merely believe it isn’t a great one.
Like readers, I share my opinion. I don’t consider myself a critic as much as I am a guy sharing his thoughts on some games he plays. My opinion may or may not be popular consensus. If you disagree, feel free to comment, citing constructive criticism or comment.
Thanks for reading…
Rating: Above Average