I’ll be honest, I played Shadow of the Colossus on PS2 when it first came out but I lost interest some ways in. The general premise intrigued me but I just felt that the limitations of the PS2 didn’t do the game any favours in helping to establish the atmosphere the creators were going for. In 2018, with Bluepoint’s remaster for the Playstation 4, it’s a completely different story. This feels like a completely new game in so many ways. Obviously the completely overhauled visuals look fantastic, but this fresh redux helps give the game an improved sense of both scale and spectacle.
Shadow of the Colossus is a true David and Goliath story. It pits a mysterious warrior named “Wander” against sixteen colossal beasts that are loosely designed to resemble different animals and mythological creatures. Armed only with a sword and bow and a trusty steed named Agro, you’ll travel to the corners of the world to take down the colossi. Whilst the core of the game hasn’t changed, the new visuals help to make the battles feel so much more daunting. Whilst the original version set out to evoke these feelings, the inconsistent framerate and rougher visuals left a lot to be desired.
The developer Bluepoint Games has done an exceptional job bringing Shadow of the Colossus to the Playstation 4. While claimed to be created using the original code, everything has been rebuilt to take advantage of higher resolution standards today. Unexpectedly, improved lighting and a brand new foliage system gives the world a greater sense of scale than in the original.
For those playing on a Pro, Shadow of the Colossus gives you two options. Cinematic Mode renders the game at full 4K resolution while targeting 30fps. Performance Mode will render the game at 1080p but with a buttery smooth 60fps frame rate. Both modes perform admirably, and it’s this smoother performance that passively encouraged me to explore the world more. Add in a very complex photo mode with numerous filters and focus options, and you’ve got a package that sells itself better as art than the original ever could.
It’d be remiss to ignore that the change in visuals also means a change in art direction, which is quite different when compared to the original game. The Playstation 4 version of the game definitely looks cleaner, and I personally enjoyed the boost in fidelity to 4K resolution. On the other hand, I understand the grittier look of the Playstation 2 original might appeal more to some – though is is really a subjective taste thing more than anything.
Bluepoint really put their all into revamping almost every aspect of the game visually, however. As an example, the fur of the beasts (which is really how Wander keeps his grip on most of them) stands out more and the textures are of a much higher quality. While this is a cosmetic improvement, having a more clear cut idea of where Wander can grip makes the battles slightly easier and less frustrating.
Outside of the visuals, not a lot has changed though. Any problems (a euphemism would be “quirks”) that the original game had haven’t been changed. Bluepoint have provided four control schemes that should appeal to most players of most major action-adventure titles today. I personally preferred swapping the triggers so that R2 was used to grip and climb rather than R1, and X to jump rather than Triangle.
That’s really all there is to mention as far as differences go. The often frustrating platforming sections are still present, and perhaps even more noticeable now that games like Assassin’s Creed have streamlined the design of platforming of this style. Those who are used to these games will probably struggle to try and remember to manually hold a button to grab onto a colossus’ fur, and frustratingly fall only to have to start the whole process again. It’s a small learning curve to overcome, but one that is worth mentioning for the modern audience today.
Shadow of the Colossus is a game you’ll finish quickly – nine hours or so to be exact. There are some time trials that can be completed after finishing the main game, though it feels like a bit of a weird decision to include these after finishing the game, especially for those who played it on the Playstation 2 and even Playstation 3. Completion of the time trials yields some cool stuff, like weapons and buffs, but most won’t see a point in using them after having played the game so much.
I’d be completely lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit disappointed that there weren’t one or two new Colossi featured in the game (even after finishing it, or perhaps as time trials only). We know that the designers had over forty Colossi in mind, and we knew that there were eight or so that reached concept but never made it into the final game. To see a few of these restored for the remaster would have been really neat.
THE PS4 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE FOR THE REVIEW. DIGITAL CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
There’s more reason to play Shadow of the Colossus than ever before. The presentation improves the incredible spectacle that the game is. The core gameplay can still be a little bit clunky at times, but the satisfaction from taking down the Colossus is greater than ever. At the cheaper price of admission ($54.99) that you’ll be playing for this game, it’s near impossible not to recommend it even if you’ve played it before.