OOOOOOOOOOOOH LOOK WHAT THE REMAKE FAIRY BROUGHT US!
I have often said remasters and remakes over the years have become somewhat over done but when they are released something deep inside us all just goes insane when they are presented before us because NOSTALGIA SELLS!! The games we loved years ago being slapped on the latest console generation with great new graphics and revamped aesthetics is something that people just can’t seem to ignore leading to the inevitable ‘shut up and take my money!’ situation and this is certainly the case with Shadow of the Colossus HD Remake for PS4 which takes us back to the forbidden land that wowed us back in 2005 with Japan Studios doing all kinds of justice due to the incredibly stunning new visuals, epic battles, masterful musical score and those awkward PS2 controls. In the early to mid-2000’s during the PS2 era Team ICO could really do no wrong as they really put emphasis on presenting video games as an art form through minimalistic means, and in respect Shadow of the Colossus was the perfect sophomore effort, complementing their first effort ICO so diligently, it had its similarities but in the same breath truly became it own entity.
Shadow of the Colossus introduces you to Wander, a young man travelling into the Forbidden Land and into the Shrine of Worship to make a deal with a demon named Dormin so he can resurrect a girl named Mono (who’s relation to Wander or the nature of her demise is never made clear, this would certainly free him from the friend zone though). But in order to do so, he must kill 16 Colossi. This story is archetypal to what made Team ICO great, simplistic but you feel the overwhelming weight of your quest and the trials and pressures that Wander experiences, which is just a single element of what made this game so great in the first place and is a testament to its aura of creating so much with so little.
Shadow of the Colossus HD carries on the immense size and overall atmosphere that made us all fall in love with the original, but the visuals, oh my sweet meats THE VISUALS!! This takes an already gorgeous game and doesn’t just put a fresh coat of paint over it, you can see the dedication here from the team behind to make it look like it belongs on the PlayStation 4. The diversity of this interconnecting environment, from the textures of the stone, trees, water, and sand all look incredible, and the loneliness and solitude of Wander’s task is a story mostly told through the barrenness of the land that you travel through and helps to serve a purpose for the forlorn trek between each of the 16 boss battles.
This brings me on to stars of the show the Colossi which was an amazing demonstration of grandeur, grace and majesty in the original and battles with such titans have the style in which it is done has been seen in other games since, to me most notably in Castlevania: Lord of Shadows and God of War but the remake makes these towering beasts look absolutely immense down to every single detail from the thunderous footsteps, their own unique appearances to their incredibly realistic looking furs which I don’t know why was just a massive high point to me and many others more than likely! To people new to this game, when you make it to the first colossus your draw will drop as you watch Valus emerge around that corner and as you run closer and closer to him you will become absolutely flabbergasted by the size of this guy and you realise your quest won’t be so simple. And they only get bigger. Shadow of the Colossus HD caps at a resolution at around 30 FPS in the standard performance mode, however if you own a PS4 Pro you have the option of playing in Cinematic Mode which will double the resolution and cranks the astonishment and beauty of this game to 11 (out of a possible 5). This title also featues one of the best musical scores in gaming in my opinion which itself has been revamped for the remake that is a brilliant accompaniment to everything you do in your travels. Overall Shadow of the Colossus has always been an exquisite looking game regardless of which version you have played, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut…..
……let’s discuss the elephant in the room. One con that has always stuck out for Shadow of the Colossus is the controls. Darting through the massive fields on your horse, jumping across caverns and climbing up gargantuan humanoids, quadrupeds, griffins and serpents is a gratifying experience and would only be made better if not for those awkward controls. Not so much general movement that’s all well and good, this is mostly down to jumping as you’re climbing which will see you hurtling in any direction, and taking control of your trusty steed Agro which when you really think about…..aren’t horses tricky creatures to control anyway? (at least in my own personal experiences anyway). Despite this inadvertent example of realism, you feel the power of Agro as you gallop your way to the Colossi, even though he will spontaneously hold back every now and again bringing the excitement down with it, you also feel his resistance when you’re traversing a treacherous path and the connection between Wander and his only companion feels extremely real, however when you turning down winding paths or just cantering across the fields and deserts, your mighty stallion feels more like a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel. The control layout has been changed a bit to accommodate your Dualshock 4 controller and it does feel convenient and easy to get your head around, but the parts that everyone remembers is the 16 epic boss battles.
To anyone who has not played this game yet the only battles you come across are with the Colossi, other than that you are free to explore and enjoy the wide landscapes and different surroundings but eventually you will bump into one of these titans, each fight follows a certain formula of find its weak spots, find a way to climb to it and plunge your sword into it (and have a fountain of black blood blast you in the face which to be fair is pretty metal) until it keels over and dies! But every one of them has unique quirks and challenges about them, be it causing Gaius to strike his club on stone to crack his armour, the wind slapping you in the face as you scale the flying Avion, dictating Celosia with fire, the challenge of shooting Dirge in the eye with your bow whilst on your horse the arduous dual with Phalanx and the last gasp against Malus all have that David and Goliath mentality and the added mechanic of your limited grasp gauge is a nice little touch that adds so much tension when you’re holding on for dear life as it’s running low but you have a feeling of remorse of killing them due to the look of innocence in their eyes, but its also fun to see how long you can avoid the black tendrils after each fight! As well as a great game their also special features, including conceptual art as well as special items to help you through your playthroughs. These are mostly unlocked through the time attack mode which will satiate all the speed running fans out there.