REVIEW – A lonely boy is riding a black horse through a narrow path in a scenic canyon in the middle of nowhere. He is carrying a wrapped-up body on his horse. When he arrives at his destination, he lays down the body: a dead young woman whom he wants to resuscitate at all cost. A strange voice speaks to him and explains, that the only way to achieve this is through killing several strange and huge “colossi.” Thus, the adventure of Shadow of the Colossus commenced in 2005 and after 13 years, you can play it yet again with gorgeous, remastered graphics.
Imagine what can be a depressed wandering, in the hollow of solitude so intense that it cuts off the world and oneself. Every step, every breath is one more burden to carry to a fatality. This fate, made of tears and doubts, falls on the young Wanda, condemned by his feelings for a woman with long brown hair. Passionately watching over the lifeless body of his beloved, the frail warrior with empty eyes advances only for one purpose.
Appearing at first sight classic and especially emaciated, the story of Shadow Of The Colossus is one of the most moving I have ever seen. Making the hero’s distress at every moment by precise plans and simply by the very context, the staging supports the script with passion until it explodes into an indescribable final scene as it speaks directly to the player’s feelings. Intense, intelligent and brilliantly conducted, it will certainly move some to tears.
Reanimation of the body
According to legends passed down among his people, only one place in the world allows access to the voice of the gods, listening to the prayer serenely. Far from complying with the caprices of mortals, these deities have only power, that of driving a soul astray in its original flesh. It is at the precise moment of the contact of his fingers with the icy stone of the altar that Wanda enters a Homeric odyssey that will lead him to destroy the 16 giants populating these abandoned lands.
Nobody knows what is the role of these living monuments, similar to the dark pillars of a gigantic temple. However, the question does not arise. Only the wild desire to see the immaculate arms of his companion guides the young hero. It is this feeling of loss of bearings, of life force without any reflection that makes Wanda’s unconsciousness powerfully moving. Nevertheless, one does not really realize what the pact necessary for the resurrection of the inert girl means before blissfully admiring the first colossus.
Only a distant noise sketches the meeting during the first seconds. Then come to the shocks, terrifying, as if the earth itself wanted to get out of its shroud. Then what we take for a pan of the mountain appears to be a simple leg, massive, amazing, distressing. The time to look away to a flight of dark birds, eyes are again to this hill that moves in front of us, unreal and impregnable. Yet, fear fades to make room for optimistic excitement. It is certain that this immense creature, a skillful mixture of stones and organs, is one of the parts of the dream. Every death is one step closer to Wanda’s desire.
While one could easily believe that Shadow Of The Colossus is limited to the serial extermination of near-mythological monsters, it only takes one shot to understand the true substance of Ueda’s work. Shrunk, slightly curved on his horse, the juvenile hero is crushed by a disproportionate plain, reminiscent of the tetanizing landscapes of Mongolia. Being one with the sky, the earth is like a dry and aged picture. It seems to have waited for thousands of years without knowing evolution, without having seen germinate even one plant. Captured in time, she seems to be waiting for your coming to root out her demons and force you to fight against her.
Moreover, these are not the rare animals to live in this country, which will provide you with some proof of the good nature of the environment. What is trying to make you feel this emptiness is painful loneliness that forces you to focus only on one single point, the life of your beloved. Indeed, it may be strange to cross on its way deserts, forests and mountains with no other presence than yours and that of the colossi.
However, what would become of the epic notion, the heady desire to undo a real incarnation of power without these calming moments of calm? The great force of the clashes with the mineral creatures is precisely this exhalation of sudden fury. Like the Odyssey of Ulysses, Shadow Of The Colossus makes you sail on a sea of oil, sparing its effects, to explode while opposing a god.
This work of atmosphere is rare intelligence, totally assuming the fact of not going in the direction that would please the most players lambda, eager for multiple brawls. It is for this reason that the title Sony Sony attempts this bet eminently risky that works beyond expectations, managing to define most strongly the concept of abandonment or more precisely loss. Nothing clings us to hope; everything represents death and destruction in a case of fine gold.
A visual marvel
Indeed, and in line with Ico, the artistic work done on Shadow Of The Colossus is a marvel – and it is even more so on the remake with PS4 Pro, where I reviewed the game. There are few games to arouse chills by the simple vision of a landscape, or even the representation of an atmosphere. Composed of particularly varied sets, Sony’s game is not content to seek to provide convincing photorealism. No, in his first desire to touch feelings, he modifies the universe with oscillations between shades of gray and brown, sublimated by green keys emerging as soon as the vegetation makes its entry.
Every step requires practically a stop to contemplate a leaf of a tree, the rays of the sun piercing between pillars or even the simple beauty of a hue. Even if this has been repeated time and time, the world exposed here seems to come out of a dream where its outlines would not be defined. Your gaze never stops, it only flees by the sea that surrounds this universe. Shadow Of The Colossus is the only game in which the panorama is made accessible by its dazzling beauty and especially by its proximity.
The childish happiness of saying to oneself: “If only I could go here” and to have the immediate possibility of it is an indisputable and striking gift. This title is not a race against the clock in search of an enemy to shoot. It is purely and simply a space of luminous freedom, in which the first pleasure is to observe and to imagine. A joy of course complemented by the magnificence of the colossi, majestic incarnations of all these monsters described in children’s books and adventure novels that we thought were extinct with our vague memories.
All this magnificence is reaching its apotheosis with the mesmerizingly beautiful remastered graphics. Every detail is painstakingly redrawn, remade, reinvigorated. It is with this remastered graphics that this game is given true life. It can finally, truly breathe, freed from its former technical chains on the PS2 and PS3 (with the HD version).
Animated with a mastery without measure, these creatures sometimes men sometimes animal sweat of life. Reacting naturally to your attacks and solicitations, yet they reveal a paralyzing look, succeeding in piercing your confidence by a lack of sincerely disturbing expression. Suffering and furious, these rocky entities are each an enigma in their right, asking for long moments of reflection before discovering a weak point.
Fights insane, these duels are a little quintessence of the epic feeling. Driven by her unwavering determination, Wanda seems to be fighting a force that exceeds her. Struggling at every second to hold on to the slightest grip, casually shuffled by the colossus’ release movements, you will enjoy the smallest step towards victory as a legendary event. Only provided with a sword and a bow, your goal is to reach the “symbol of life” of each titan by using accessible parts of his body to continue your ascent.
However, it will be necessary for you to discover in the first place the weak spot of your opponent, so that he reveals to you without his knowledge the method to bring him down. An exceptional concept that constantly revives interest and especially offers an extra dimension to a simple confrontation. We must learn to know the enemy, his movements, his attitudes to a stimulus and obviously by his routine actions.
Respect thy enemy
At the scene of the barbarian massacre, this way of apprehending such a situation makes it possible to build a relationship of respect with the colossus, considered then as an equal having also the right to live. A very interesting message relayed by the closing events of the game, giving an idea of the true nature of these monolithic monsters. An ending scene that also succeeds in the tour de force of being one of the most emotional, stirring all the expectations of the player before breaking them with a crash. A demonstration addressed directly to the sensitivity with remarkable sobriety and which won’t leave you indifferent. Wonderful.
In the end, and you will understand, Shadow Of The Colossus is one of those titles apart, courageous, deep, condensing the passions to make his blood. A true experience, it surpasses what Ico could bring and becomes by the same an icon of the artistic integration of a video game and true, raw art.
+ A grandiose, artistic experience
+ Outstanding remastered graphics
+ Epic fights
– Forget it, if you want an open world RPG
– Only colossi to fight
– Some small technical issues
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Bluepoint Games, SIE Japan Studio
Release date: February 6, 2018