"Shadow of the Colossus" for PS4 is a stunning, bittersweet experience. As a remake of one of PlayStation's most popular games, "Shadow" has a lot to live up to, and developer Bluepoint has delivered in spades. While the game still suffers from antiquated controls, its gorgeous graphics, haunting story and budget price point cements it as the definitive way to play "Shadow of the Colossus."
"Shadow" takes place in a dark fantasy world, and focuses on a young warrior's quest to resurrect a loved one by slaying a number of towering monsters at the behest of a mysterious voice. Following some brief exposition, players are let loose to explore the Forbidden Lands in search of these towering beasts.
While the game's world is largely empty, it still maintains a great sense of place and helps establish a bleak-yet-hopeful tone. "Shadow of the Colossus" also succeeds in drip-feeding information and lore to players without over-explaining its minimalist lore. The game's story deals heavily with loss and regret, which makes the game more appropriate for adults and teens.
As indicated by its title, the game focuses primarily on finding and defeating 16 Colossi, towering monsters that roam the game's desolate world. Each Colossi is unique and visually striking, and acts as a puzzle that needs to be solved quickly and efficiently.
There are very few experiences in video games as striking as clambering up the Colossi in search of a glowing weakness, and the game's visual upgrade adds a lot to the experience.
"Shadow of the Colossus" may be the best-looking title on PS4 to date. The vast, empty landscape is beautifully detailed, and retains the original game's surreal, dreamlike tone. Trees, fields and mountains are realistically rendered, and the fur and armor on each Colossi is some of the best in modern games. PS4 Pro owners have the choice to play the game in 4K or 60 frames per second, which adds a lot to the experience.
While "Shadow's" graphics exceed expectations, the game's control scheme leaves a lot to be desired. Bluepoint went to great lengths to streamline the original game's confusing controls, but the changes are hampered by awkward physics. Jumping never feels all that precise, and your horse's controls often feel unresponsive. There are some hidden tricks you can perform while riding that tend to mitigate some of the issues, but the game never explains these mechanics naturally. Of all the things to remain in line with the original PS2 version of "Shadow," the game's handling shouldn't have been one of them.
Despite some wonky physics, "Shadow of the Colossus" is the best way to play the game today. Its beautiful graphics and haunting story help keep players engaged, while the sense of exploration the game fosters is unparalleled by most other games. If you have access to a PS4, don't miss out on this great exclusive title.
Shadow of the Colossus
T for blood and violence