Shadow of the Colossus (2018) Game Review

Back in 2005, a revolutionary title for the PlayStation 2, Shadow of the Colossus, was released to astounding critical acclaim. It received a Metacritic score of 91, marking it as one of the highest rated games for the popular console. The game was praised for its open-ended story, tense gameplay, and revolutionary concepts on what a boss battle could mean. However, the game wasn’t without a handful of technical bugs and glitches, causing a somewhat inconsistent frame rate. Fixing these flaws is what drove Bluepoint Games to fully re-develop the 2005 classic from the ground up for the PlayStation 4. The iconic remaster developer succeeds on this front and in so many more ways. Shadow of the Colossus, for the PlayStation 4, is a stunning tribute to a legendary classic that is one of the prettiest games available for the system. However, it is more than just a faithful tribute to a classic; it is a celebration of Fumito Ueda’s masterpiece, a thrilling experience that blends artistically beautiful graphics, gameplay, and sheer emotion to create one of the best games available for the PlayStation 4.

What sets Shadow of the Colossus and Ueda’s other games apart from the norm is its open-ended stories. Often times, the plot is simple but is told in such an effective and artistic fashion that it quickly becomes apparent that they still have emotional resonance. A quality also seen in Shadow of the Colossus. The protagonist of the game, Wanda, doesn’t speak much, but the player grows an attachment to him, an element felt with every one of the sixteen daunting Colossi battles. The story seems to head in a traditional route for much of the experience. However, at the end, the entire motivations and thus plot of the game is shifted drastically. It is a stunning and subtle twist, one that opens up possibility for hours of conversation and debate for what the ending means. No other ending in a video game has caused such an emotional resonance, not even the painstaking conclusion of Ueda’s other works or games such as The Last of Us. They have nothing compared to what Colossus achieves. As a result, for this twist alone, Shadow of the Colossus joins the ranks with games such as The Last of Us, The Walking Dead: The Game Season One, and the Uncharted series for some of the best videogame stories of all time. That is no mere achievement, especially with a recent heavy emphasis on telling emotional stories in videogames.

While the story may leave players shook at its conclusion, the real wonder and emotion of the game is derived from its stellar and revolutionary gameplay. As mentioned before, there are a total of sixteen Colossus battles within the experience. These battles are practically the only encountering with life players will have within the depressingly empty open world of the game. However, the emptiness of the world isn’t done in a cheap or lazy manner. Many franchised properties that dish out yearly releases often have empty worlds with little to accomplish. At a short glance, one might assume that Shadow of the Colossus also fits into this category, but it doesn’t. The game’s empty open world is there for a reason. It adds to the mysterious and depressing atmosphere. With every swirling leaf or blade of grass, the player feels somberness unlike anything else in gaming. And with Bluepoint’s fantastic remake, the thrill of exploring the vast world is heightened and makes each wander through a lush forest or a daunting mountain feel exciting, emotions that I hadn’t felt in a game for quite some time.

The Open World of "Shadow of the Colossus"

But, as expected, the primary aspect of the game is the sixteen encounters. Each one of the encounters poses a puzzle-like challenge to the player. Each creature has their own unique location of weaknesses. In addition, some are dauntingly massive. They cause an immediate sense of dread and terror when staring into the creature’s vividly lifelike animation. But when the music begins to swell and the excitement is heightened, the player finds themselves in a unique experience as they climb onto the Colossus searching for its critical weak points. As stated before, it leaves the player breathless and is marvelous to behold. It is an experience like no other on the market. No other game is able to create as much excitement with a boss encounter as Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus is able to. In addition, each encounter is strictly unique. No tactic for taking the creature will be repeated, heightening the thrill of hunting down each one.

The Daunting Colossi of "Shadow of the Colossus"

In terms of its technical qualities, this is where 2005’s Shadow of the Colossus ultimately has its biggest collection of issues. The inconsistent framerate coupled with the somewhat muddy textures left much to be desired especially when heading into the PS3/Xbox 360 era, when HD console gaming was first introduced. However, with the aid of Bluepoint’s fantastic remake, the 2018 version of the game is able to far surpass the 2005 PS2 version. The game has a solid frame rate, with a targeted 30 FPS on the original PlayStation 4 model. The game is also stunning with a beautiful 1080p presentation. It’s quite simply one of the best looking games in the generation, easily surpassing other titles available on the PlayStation 4 such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and even Ueda’s other title, The Last Guardian. This level of authenticity and improvement is something that Bluepoint has proved they are capable of achieving constantly, and they should be commended once more for how astounding the experience is on an original PlayStation 4. However, if you are an owner of a PlayStation 4 Pro, then the game could run at an upscaled 4K presentation or a targeted 60 FPS performance, leaving the choice up to the player. Both versions are fantastic, with my personal preference being on the latter, as it makes each encounter with the daunting Colossi feel even more weighty.

The PlayStation 2 Original VS The PlayStation 4 Remake

Ultimately, Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus has returned to stunning form on the PlayStation 4 in this fantastic remake. Bluepoint should be praised for the authenticity that went into each effort on the game. It’s one of the best remakes ever made and challenges the often complacent approach publishers make towards remastering old classics, such as Batman: Return to Arkham. Every aspect of the game, from its open-ended story to its stunning presentation to its masterful gameplay, feels polished and modern. Outside of a few control issues that I encountered throughout the eight-hour campaign, Shadow of the Colossus has returned as a true modern experience. Nothing about the updated title rings an outdated element. It has all been revolutionized for the current generation of consoles, proving that Bluepoint games is indeed…the best remake/remaster developer of the decade.

Score: 9.3 out of 10

Shadow of the Colossus: 9.3

Rebuilt from the ground up by Bluepoint Games and JAPAN Studio, SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS on PlayStation 4 system introduces the awe of its unforgettable world and towering creatures to a new generation of gamers, while allowing long time fans to revisit the beloved masterpiece with unparalleled visual fidelity and improved performance.

Tales speak of an ancient realm where Colossi roam the majestic landscape. Bound to the land, these creatures hold a key to a mystical power of revival – a power you must obtain to bring a loved one back to life.

SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS is a breathtaking journey through ancient lands to seek out gigantic beasts. Armed with only a sword and a bow, explore the spacious lands and unearth each Colossus, presenting a unique challenge to test your wits, determination, and skill.