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Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 4) artwork

Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 4) review

"Still no confirmation that there's a 17th colossus in store"

ďExhibit AĒ in the games-as-art argument, Shadow of the Colossus has been viewed as a transcendent release ever since it the saw light of day on the PS2 in 2005. Itís been more than a hot minute; now 13 years after the originalís release on the PS2, and seven years since it was bundled on the PS3 with Ico, Shadow of the Colossus graces the PS4ís library as a remake worth taking a look at, especially if youíve never experienced it before.

Remakes, to me, are easy cash-grabs, but Iíll always make an exception when itís for a game I hold dear. The fact that this is not just a cash grab but a fully realized remake is just icing on the cake. Bluepoint Games could have done a minimal amount of work and called it a day, but rather they entirely recreated the gameís asset catalogue to give us not only the best looking edition of the three that now exist but also one of the finest looking titles in present day gaming. As a result, Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4 is even more awe-inspiring and breath-taking than it was when I first experienced it in 2005. It is the definitive version for first-time players and experienced, returning vets alike.

Thatís the gist of my review, but I guess we should include some other talking points.

While the graphics have been given an overhaul, the overall adventure still plays the same. The order in which colossi must be found and dispatched is unchanged. The geography, though new in its resolution and detail, is unaltered in its layout and placement. Wander, our tireless hero, can still slay white-tailed lizards or eat sweet fruit for minor stat boosts, just as he can ride his horse around the map at his leisure before stumbling upon the next colossal boss fight. There is a new incentive to explore the vast wilderness thatís on display here, aside from wanting to see beautifully rendered assets, but overall youíre largely rewarded with the same bonus items for completing the game multiple times.

And while Shadow of the Colossus may ultimately be unchanged in its overall presentation and task, there is a new button layout to keep things interesting as far as how the gameís hero, Wander, is controlled. But if youíre expecting a smoother playstyle or more controlled move-set, youíre going to find that not to be the case. Wander and his horse, Agro, still feel insignificant when in the shadow of the 16 colossi that are strewn across the landscape, and youíll feel a bit helpless from time to time as you strive to have Wander scale these magnificent towers of fur and stone.

It was a complaint that a lot of folks had back in the day, claiming that controlling the hero (or camera for that matter) was detrimental to actually enjoying the game. But I, for one, have always viewed that argument as flawed given that youíre not supposed to feel in control scaling a writhing beast that views you as nothing more than an irritating gnat to swat at. So Shadow of the Colossus still gets that feeling of suspenseful insignificance right by making it tough to keep Wander in control when going up against a colossus. The more out of control things feel, the more satisfied youíll feel when you finally scale to the top of one of these moving mountains, find the glowing weak spot, and administer the fatal death blow to see things through.

If youíve never played Shadow of the Colossus before, then this may all seem a bit rubbish considering that youíll be playing a game that can feel a bit archaic compared to the fluidity youíd experience in modern releases. Yet the story, shown through gradual reveals and omnipresent lore, retains an allure that is as inviting to unveil as it is sorrowful to behold. Scarcely has a video game world ever been so fully realized. A jerky camera is a small price to pay for the grand show thatís on display.

Itís with great satisfaction that it can now be experienced in full 1080P at 30 FPS if you have a standard PS4, where as a PS4 Pro allows upscaling to 4K at 30 FPS or 60 FPS still at 1080P. If you have the means to experience the artistry on display here, then 4K is the best way to see it unfold as every blade of grass, every individual leaf, and every perfectly placed stone give this world a pulse unmatched by any other landscape Iíve come across in video gaming. The fact that large parts the landscape serve only as passing scenery from one colossus battle to the next is all the more interesting since they practically beg to be explored if only to see how gorgeous they are to behold. And if thatís not reason enough to see whatís hidden by the rocks and trees scattered about, youíll now have an incentive to do so as far as uncovering hidden relics is concerned, something thatís a brand new inclusion to this version of the game.

PS4 Shadow of the Colossus will stand the test of time as a remake worth looking into, at least until it moves aside to the PS5 version, whenever that may be.

Fiddlesticks's avatar
Community review by Fiddlesticks (February 13, 2018)

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