Retro Corner: Shadow of the Colossus HD

Japanese developer Team Ico tends to treat it’s creations like a fine wine. They take an age to make, but the end result is usually spectacular and, as the recent HD remaster of Shadow of the Colossus proves, they only get better with age.

Shadow of the Colossus is the story of Wander, who travels to a cursed land to save the woman he loves. To do this he has to find and kill 16 monsters called Colossi; not an easy task since, as their name suggests, they are bloody massive.

Several things are immediately striking about SotC, and the first is the setting. It’s huge, eerily desolate, and for a PS2 game made in 2004 it’s incredibly detailed and beautiful – you can actually see the wind blowing through the trees and making the horse’s tail sway as it gallops across the plains.

Then there’s the monsters themselves. There’s a strangely organic quality to them; covered in stone and moss, you could almost believe that they grew out of the earth.

The next striking thing is the gameplay, which is incredibly simplistic. You hold your sword up and a beam of light shows you where to go. You follow it to a Colossus, which you kill, and then you do the whole thing again. And that’s it.

The variation comes in killing the Colossi, which makes the game more like a puzzle. You have to climb them to find specific weak points, and sometimes it takes quite a bit of lateral thinking to figure out how to reach them – not to mention the fact that they’ll try to shake you off like an over-sized rodeo bull.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about Shadow is how moving it is. The only character who speaks is Wander, and there’s no-one to talk to besides the horse. When you’re riding across the landscape the loneliness actually becomes palpable.

You begin to really feel for Wander and his horse, and somehow you actually feel a little bit guilty every time you kill a Colossus; after all, they’ve done nothing to you. And the ending is one of the most unexpected and emotional that you’ll ever see in a video game. Honestly, there could be tears.

At six-years-old Shadow of the Colossus is still an amazing game, a cult classic.

Because of their quality, fine wines are notoriously expensive;  at just £11.99 from the Playstation store, SotC is too good to pass up.


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