In a time where brand new video games are being released more than ever, there’s still something really special about jumping back into one of the greatest games from your childhood, a game highly praised by the gaming community because it provides that perfect hit of nostalgia and you know how much you enjoyed playing through the original all those years ago. Playing through the latest release of Shadow Of The Colossus on PS4 has done just exactly that. BluePoint Games have treated this game with an incredible amount of respect and have done a fantastic job remaking a much loved classic for a 2018 audience.
The main plot of the game is fairly simplistic and streamlined, which is definitely part of what makes it so great. There is no unnecessary filler or plot padding, you are informed of the core plot and know the end goal you are working towards within the first 10 minutes of booting it up.
You play as ‘The Wanderer’, a young boy that has traveled to a mysterious land on the back of his horse. Upon arriving at the forbidden lands it is revealed he is attempting to revive a deceased young girl and is seeking assistance from an ominous spirit known as Dormin. Dormin informs the Wanderer that if he is able to defeat the 16 Colossi located inside the forbidden lands he will revive the young girl.
This sets in motion the simple yet addicting gameplay loop that makes up the whole game. Dormin informs you which Colossus you’ll be taking on, you locate it’s general position using the light in your sword, then traverse the environmental puzzles until you locate the Colossus you seek, then the fun part begins.
Upon finding the Colossus you’ll first need to find out how to scale it to reach its head or other weak spots to start dealing damage to it. Some will require you to locate and damage a weak spot to stun the Colossus allowing you to climb up, while others have you analyse and use the environment to trick or trap the Colossus first.
Figuring out how to scale the beast is just the first stepping stone to taking it down. The Colossi’s designs are often puzzles as well. Forcing you to work out the best way to get to the weak spot, while remembering to keep an eye on your climbing gauge which will cause you to lose grip when it maxes out.
Once you’ve dealt enough damage to the Colossus it will drop and erupt into streams of black smoke that impale the Wanderer. Upon waking you will find yourself back at the main temple where Dormin will issue the next Colossi challenge to you. Rinse and repeat.
This new PS4 release is a complete remake built from the ground up by the team at BluePoint Games assited by Sony Japan. BluePoint have a lot of respect for this game and were also behind the initial remastered release of Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus on the PS3 in 2011. This time though, with a brand new art department, they have rebuilt all of the games assets and are powering the game with a brand new engine that has allowed them to render the game with incredible detail and uses new lighting techniques to make it look and feel better than it ever has while still remaining true to what made the original Team Ico game so great in the first place.
One of the main criticisms the game has received in more recent years from people that have gone back and tried to enjoy the original is that the controls really don’t hold up in today’s standards. Luckily BluePoint heard those complaints and have implemented a new ‘modern control’ scheme with many of the actions mapped to new buttons. For those purists out there don’t worry, you still have the option to revert back to the original PS2 control scheme if you prefer.
Even though the control scheme has been updated I still had some issues controlling the character in game that I’ve had in every release of Shadow Of The Colossus. Occasionally the camera will still have a mind of it’s own causing the slight position change to make you miss a jump and fall or lead your horse Agro straight into the side of a cliff or get stuck on the collision box of a tree.
The movement and traversal has a great sense of weight to it, which it should in this kind of game. It’s just when combined with the dodgy camera moment it can make the scaling of the Colossi seemingly random at times with the Wanderer not always moving exactly where you wanted him to go while climbing, I had the same issue while scaling Trico in Team Ico’s 2016 game The Last Guardian. Overall it has been improved since the original release but is the main thing I can see people having an issue with and holding it back from feeling like a perfect game built for 2018.
As with many of Sony’s first party releases of recent years, the Shadow Of The Colossus remake features a Photo Mode that can be initiated at any point during gameplay. It allows you to freeze the game, re-position the camera, apply filters and effects to the shot to take some absolutely stunning screenshots. And you’ll likely be doing that a lot. This remake is absolutely gorgeous. The textures inside of the stone temples, foliage and the skin and fur of the Colossi when combined with the brand new lighting and physics systems are amazingly realistic and one of the sharpest looking games the PS4 has on offer.
For those playing on a PS4 Pro system, BluePoint have implemented 2 gameplay options you can use that harness the additional power of the Pro system to customise your gameplay experience. There is the cinematic mode, which emphasises image quality, and for owners of compatible 4K HDR displays, boasts a beautiful dynamic 4K image locking the game at 30 frames per second. Or there’s the Performance mode which delivers an extremely fluid frame rate locking the game at 60 frames per second.
BluePoint have done an incredible job of bringing Shadow Of The Colossus to the PS4, making it accessible to a whole generation of people that didn’t get to experience the original. It runs better, performance wise here than it ever has and it’s attention to fine detail makes it one of the best looking PS4 titles to date. BluePoint have managed to make the game world look just how teenage me imagined it in my head, but looking back and comparing this release to the PS2 version you’ll see it has come leaps and bounds visually. It is slightly let down by controls that still aren’t perfect, but after a couple of hours with the game you will quickly get used to and adjust your play style accordingly.
This remake has showcased how great BluePoint are as a studio, showing that they aren’t just a port house but can remake games from the ground up. It has me quite excited to find out what they are working on next.
A PS4 review code was provided by Playstation Australia free of charge for our Shadow Of The Colossus PS4 review