ure, Shadow of the Colossus has its share of faults: controls which can be imprecise; a camera system that will try to work against you at the least opportune moments; an occasional slowdown in framerate; I could keep going, but I won't. I can all but guarantee that as soon as you pick up the controller, you'll be so engrossed by the world that unfolds around you that these technical gaffes will soon cease to matter.
The tale that Colossus weaves is a dark one – our nameless protagonist has brought the body of his dead lover to an ancient temple hoping to resurrect her. When he arrives, a disembodied voice informs him that the only way to bring life back to his love is to take it from the sixteen colossi who roam the land. As the player begins to slay these giants, it becomes clear that things aren't exactly as they seem. One feels a sense of loss whenever they vanquish one of these majestic creatures – perhaps your love will return to life, but at what cost?
I won't discuss the story any more. Suffice it to say, this is the first video game that's brought tears to my eyes in a long time (not since ICO have I found a game so emotionally engaging). The controls, though taking a little bit of getting used to, are highly intuitive. Whether using your sword or flinging arrows at enemies from a distance, you'll rarely find yourself fumbling with button presses. Although the game does incorporate a complicated system for jumping and holding on to objects, these commands become second nature by the end of your battle with the first colossus. The scheme used while on horseback never ceased to amaze me – I don't believe I've ever seen an action game do such an excellent job of presenting a horse as a living entity, and not merely as a means of conveyance (let alone succeeding at this merely by the way the creature controlled and responded).
Short of ICO, there are few modern games to compare this title to stylistically. It brings back memories of "adventure greats" like Out of This World, which did such an excellent job of combining action and logic puzzles. It must be understood that in this game, the colossi themselves are the levels: the challenge exists in finding the correct routes up their impenetrable bodies in an attempt to reach their few weak spots.
And so it is. To anyone who believes video games are a valid art form – PLAY THIS GAME. To anyone who denies video games any credibility in the realm of art – PLAY THIS GAME (it will change your mind forever). Here's hoping some of you share your thoughts on Colossus after experiencing it for yourselves. In the meantime, I'm off to play through again on "hard mode." More majesty awaits.
(This review was originally published on arcological.com on June 27th, 2006.)
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