Review: Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)

Review: Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Shadow of the Colossus
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (13.57 GB)
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Original PS2 Release Date: October 18, 2005
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE Japan Studio / Bluepoint Games
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), £29.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
Half of the images in this review were taken using the Photo Mode functionality in the game and are heavily stylized as a result. The first four are straight screenshots while the last four were taken using the Photo Mode.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 560 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
For PlayStation fans, Shadow of the Colossus really shouldn’t require much explanation. Released originally on the PlayStation 2 in October 2005, the game is the midpoint of the acclaimed ICO trilogy from Fumito Ueda and Team ICO which started with ICO on PlayStation 2 and ended with the recent release of The Last Guardian on PlayStation 4.

This is actually the third release of Shadow of the Colossus after the PS2 original and the HD remake for PS3. The simple fact that Sony is releasing the game a third time and putting so much effort into it says a lot about its place in PlayStation history. This isn’t just a money grab, as the reaction from the crowd when the trailer was shown at E3 last year should be some indication of where this game sits in people’s hearts.

Why do another remake? The game’s place in PlayStation history and lore is certainly one good reason, but the technology has finally reached a point where the scale and grandeur of Ueda’s vision can now be fully realized with nothing to hold it back.

Some facts Sony has shared with us really drive that point home. For instance, the “hub” of the game, The Shrine of Worship, was originally made up of several thousand triangles. It’s now several million, which is more than twice as much detail as the entire PS2 game.

Bluepoint has put an impressive amount of work into this full remake of the game and it shows in so many ways. The rendering of the colossi, for instance, saw anywhere from a twelve fold increase up to nearly a fifty fold increase in the number of triangles used and the level of detail is phenomenal.

For anyone new to the PlayStation ecosystem, Shadow of the Colossus has you playing a character called Wander. You start the game by making your way to a forbidden land on your horse Agro while carrying the body of a girl named Mono.

Your only goal is to resurrect her, but to do so you’ll need to kill the colossi that roam these lands.
You start, and restart, in The Shrine of Worship after killing the colossi. Your trusty steed will help you across the landscape while the glint of sunshine off your outstretched sword will guide your way.

It’s a long and difficult journey. The sense of scale grows along with the difficulty as you push on from one to the next. At times, Agro will be critical to the fight while at others, you’ll be entirely on your own. It makes for a unique experience that gamers have been immersed in for more than a decade.

Visuals:
I’ve already touched upon the increase in detail, so let’s talk about the rest of the overall look of the game. While this is a remake, according to Sony “the original game code that controls colossi, Agro and the core gameplay mechanics” from the PS2 is intact, with various minor tweaks and bug fixes of course.

That was actually something I noticed when approaching the first colossus. You will see hints of the game’s legacy code here and there, but the experience is light years beyond the original. For example, Sony has told us “there is no physical geometry representing the fur, it is dynamically generated, textured, lit and simulated by the GPU” – and it’s simply mesmerizing.

PS4 Pro users have a few options hidden in the menus as well. You can choose to play in Cinematic mode which will aim for 30fps while pushing everything towards a gorgeous 4K picture.

If you only have an HDTV (like me) Cinematic mode will output in 1080p generated from a 1440p target render which will give you a smoother image. Otherwise, you can choose Performance mode which targets 60fps. Either way, it looks stunning.

The HUD can be moved around the screen or turned off completely which is a great addition for getting more immersed in the game, and, of course, there’s a Photo Mode which I used for a fair number of the pictures included in this review. Just hit down on the D-Pad and go to town.

Audio:
Like the rest of the trilogy, the dialogue is entirely in a made up language, so you’ll be reading subtitles the entire time. It really helps add to the otherworldly nature of these games and it’s haunting in its own way.

The soundtrack, by Japanese composer Kow Otani sounds just as beautiful as it always did. It really helps to capture the majesty and awe-inspiring vistas and battles throughout the game. It’s also available to download or to buy on vinyl from iam8bit and it’s absolutely worth it.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
ICO has long been my favorite game in the trilogy. I’m drawn more to the puzzles and wonder of saving the girl than I am murdering colossi. That being said, Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game on its own and this remake is an astounding achievement. The amount of work that was poured into it clearly emanates from a place of love and respect for the original experience.

We’ve seen a number of classic PlayStation franchises making the jump to PS4 via the remake/remaster route and they’ve all been really impressive in their own way. Shadow of the Colossus and really the entire ICO trilogy has a special place in the hearts of longtime PlayStation gamers and now Sony and Bluepoint have given a beautiful gift to the community with this release.

Bring on ICO and give me the complete trilogy on PS4! I’m not being too greedy am I?

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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