Shadow of the Colossus review – An essential masterpiece that cannot be missed

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Shadow of the Colossus review – An absolutely essential purchase for the PS4

It’s a dilemma that’s faced filmmakers, musicians and game designers throughout the years.

Those who rose to the challenge usually fall in two camps – those that tried something radically different, and those that stayed true to the original. 

A perfect example of the latter is Gus Van Sant’s much-derided remake of Psycho – a shot for shot recreation of Alfred Hitchcock’s visionary horror.

But for all its detractors, Van Sant’s approach seemed to be a way of acknowledging the impossible task of trying to improve on a classic.

Speaking afterwards, he explained his attitude towards the project was: “Why don’t you just shoot it exactly the way it is, because it’s a great movie?” 

In many ways, the PS4 version of Shadow of the Colossus takes a very similar approach.

If you’ve played the original, picking up the Shadow of the Colossus remake will be like visiting an old friend.

The design, structure and boss battles of Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4 is unchanged.

Controls are tighter, performance is smoother and other tweaks such as an improved camera are all there in the remake.

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Shadow of the Colossus review – At its heart, the PS4 remake is the same game as the PS2 classic

But at its heart, Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4 is the very much the same game as the classic PS2 title.

It even, remarkably, runs on the same code that the PlayStation 2 game ran on – showing how refined and ahead of its time that experience was.

The biggest change, and most obvious one, is the graphics have been given a complete rebuild to harness the power of the PS4 and PS4 Pro.

And what a sight it is to behold.

The Shadow of the Colossus remake, like the original, presents a barren, lonely world for you to explore.

There is a lingering sense of sadness in this desolate land, but wandering through this stunningly rebuilt setting is never short of majestic.

Developers Bluepoint have done a staggering job recreating The Forbidden Lands.

They’ve stayed true to Team Ico’s distinct art style while giving it a glorious modern refresh.

This is most apparent in the battles with the 16 Colossi that roam the world of Shadow of the Colossus, which mark the game’s centrepiece moments.

So much care has gone into recreating these Colossi with current-gen tech, that’ll you’ll probably find yourself marvelling at them mid-fight. 

For those who have never played Shadow of the Colossus, these jaw-dropping, breathtaking boss battles are the main draw of the game.

Your wanderer is trying to revive a loved one, and has been promised that could be possible – if he slays all 16 Colossi in The Forbidden Lands.

To find these Colossi, you use an ancient sword that transmits a light beam in the direction of the Colossi, and travel to them on your horse Argo.

Once you get there, you have to find a way to climb these huge, hulking beasts and locate its weak point.

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Shadow of the Colossus review – The 16 Colossi battles are the main draw of the game

To mount the Colossi, you need to locate patches of fur on the beasts’ bodies that you can grab onto and climb up.

With the first sleeping giant you encounter, it won’t take too long to figure out how to climb up it and locate its glowing weak point.

But things quickly become more complicated, with the genius design meaning players have to think hard to figure out how to defeat these hulking beasts.

Modern action games, have in the past, been guilty of having sections where it seems to be virtually on rails.

Players have minimal input and control as all hell breaks loose around them.

This undoubtedly is meant to ramp up the drama, making gamers feel like they’re right in the centre of a big budget Hollywood blockbuster.

But, on the flipside, this drama is inorganic, with it resulting in big set pieces that won’t vary too much between gamers.

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Shadow of the Colossus has some of the best moments in video game history

Shadow of the Colossus, instead, creates its drama from great level design, incredibly crafted enemies and brilliant character physics.

It’s no exaggeration to say the game boasts some of the most breathtaking, awe-inspiring and essential moments in video game history.

Some may be surprised the remake  adopts an ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach, with the remake at its heart playing just like the original.

But by harnessing the power of the PS4 and PS4 Pro, it gives gamers who missed Shadow out first time round the perfect opportunity to experience it. 

And for those who did play through the PS2 classic, the remake is a great way to revisit it and experience it in a new light.

The Shadow of the Colossus remake is absolutely essential game, and one that you cannot afford to miss.