2020.04.19

Shadow of the Colossus remaster Agro bird tower riding

Here's a little gallery/writeup on Shadow of the Colossus, the PS+ free update on the PS2 classic. In case anyone's considering a playthrough, I start with a short summary of the gameplay then - with callouts - progress to show each colossus (gameplay spoilers) and finally wrap up with the ending (plot spoilers).

Shadow of the Colossus remaster playtime menu new game plus

SotC has a fairly short playtime, which is mostly why I decided I could squeeze it in my scarce solo gaming time. There's replay value with time attack and possibly some secrets, however as we'll see that really isn't for me.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster before after

As I mentioned, it's an update on a 20-year old title. SotC is what I'd call a 'tight' game - it doesn't sprawl in size or depth like Skyrim or Divinity - it gives the player a simple, direct experience. It's sort of like The Last of Us but replaces character development and shooting with silent mystery and a sword. Both can be completed in under ten hours, both are on rails but don't feel like it.
Intro

Shadow of the Colossus remaster forbidden zone

The plot arrives lightly in the beginning and heavily after you fell the last colossus. The intro sequence shows our hero racing to a forbidden land to ask a higher power to save his girl. That's it. It's a tale as old as Atari.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster gf dead

The diety promises to bring her back if the hero defeats sixteen colossi. From here until the end, it's all gameplay.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster faustian bargain kind of
Mechanics

The gameplay is pretty straightfoward, but not easy. Foreach(colossus):

Shadow of the Colossus remaster direction finding sword

Your sword reflects sunlight (if present) toward the next colossus. This mechanic is pretty good; it's more atmospheric than a map marker, but makes finding most colossi reasonably straightforward (pun intended).

Shadow of the Colossus remaster Agro bridge

Using your sword-compass, you ride Agro across a beautiful open world whose diameter is probably 10-15 minutes of continuous riding. Agro is a well-animated, reliable steed who always answers your whistle and sticks around when things get dangerous. He does, however, like slowing down when you gently nudge the reigns to turn him. This isn't great on a map that is very open but has small obstacles scattered everywhere.

SotC only has bosses. The ride between colossi is just to let a little air out of the tires between battles.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 13

Eventually you enter a colossus's domain. After a short intro sequence, you must devise a way to fell the creature. That intro scene is actually quite important; if you fall off of something before you actually get to the colossus you're returned to the temple at the center of the map.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster climbing colossus

Each colossus must be stabbed a few times in one or more achilles heels. Since these heels are typically around their head, you must use the game's main mechanic: climbing. In games that followed the original SotC release, climbing has been both a neat way to add map verticality and a horrible mechanic that slows gameplay and brings many, many insta-deaths. Climbing sequences in SotC are generally brief and rarely lethal, but they are somewhat clumsy. The clumisness is is derived from a few things:
So what's the bottom line here? Execution of the climbing mechanic is maybe a 7/10, even when gauged against modern games like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry. The mechicanic enables the unique playstyle that SotC offers. It is, however, sometimes frustrating and not overwhelmingly gratifying.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster taunt mechanic

Climbing the colossus is more than a matter of walking up to it and pressing X. Each boss is unique and must be conquered in a different way using some combination of climbing, your weapons, the terrain, and its behavior. The strategy for each colossus can be subtle and require a gamefaq.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster weak point mechanic

Each plunge of your sword takes the colossus's health down. He may toss you off or change the location of his weak spot. Eventually, he falls.
The colossi (gameplay spoilers)

Colossus 1


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 1

Colossus 2


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 2

Colossus 3



The third colossus was my first stumble. Either it hadn't been explained or I ignored the fact that holding X to vault was a thing. Tapping it put me in the water under the left stairway until I looked it up online.


Colossus 4


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 4


Colossus 5


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 5

The first winged colossus was a fun ride. Wind resistance came into play but wasn't OP.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 5 back

Colossus 6


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 6

Colossus 7


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 7

A water colossus, whaaa?

Colossus 8


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 8

The first AoE attack colossus got me a couple times.

Colossus 9


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 9

Turtle colossus really didn't like walking over the geysers. This wasn't a short battle.

Colossus 10


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 10

The sandworm battle felt like it could have been frustrating but actually went very well. Agro did a good job keeping pace and letting me aim.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 10

Colossus 11


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 11

Colossus eleven had me close to ragequitting. I got the dude to charge the fire pedestals, pretty sure I was on the right track.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 11 torch

The faq told me I needed to pick up a torch and wave it at him. This was weird, I'd never picked anything up. I walked over what looked like the torch and mashed various possible buttons. I put away my sword. Nothing. The faq assured me circle would execute the pick up.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster control update no action button

I eventually cycled through the control scheme and found that the 'classic' controls had an action button not present in the default 'modern' mappings. Wow.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 11

With that worked out, I scared the colossus off the cliff and exposed his weak point...

Shadow of the Colossus remaster falling through map

... he promptly rammed me through a hole in the map.

Colossus 12


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 12

Twelve had some difficult jumps but wasn't nearly as frustrating.

Colossus 13


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 13 diving


Colossus 14


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 14

Colossus 15


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 15

Fifteen's unique mechanic of stomping a ramp into the terrain eluded me until I looked it up.

Colossus 16


Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 16 climbing

I hoped for a challenge with sixteen and I got it.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 16 distant

Dodging fireballs wasn't too bad, my own impatience had me not timing them well.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster colossus 16 hand

The climb to his head took me at least a dozen frustrating attempts. The grab-lunges and camera angles made it very tough. Luckily once I had reached his head I didn't fall off and get fireballed.
Scenery


While mechanically it's just filler, the scenery of SotC makes the journey to each colossus rather pleasant. The redwoods, especially.
Ending (plot spoilers)

Shadow of the Colossus remaster corruption smoke

Something seemed a little off about the black smoke that overtakes you after defeating each colossus. Black smoke is rarely good.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster posse

In a rare camera cut to other people, some knights seem to have taken notice.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster Agro falling dead maybe

I was more fond of Agro than the girl based on screen time and utility. This was the most heartbreaking moment of the game.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster bridge posse

Eventually things come to a head as the knight dudes arrive in the forbidden land.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster corrupted protagonist

Oh yeah, I guess the diety was playing me...

Shadow of the Colossus remaster voltron colossus smoke guy

... to create a colossus voltron. But the knights prevail and seal our hero to the temple lake thing.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster Agro girlfriend

Leaving the reanimation wish to, for some reason, still be fulfilled and a limping Agro to happily return.

Shadow of the Colossus remaster garden credits