Shadow of the Colossus is a very interesting game. I didn’t play of when it first came out. It was one of the many games I missed out on for a variety of reasons. Once I read Nick Suttner’s book, I wanted to give the game a try. I wasn’t sure what I was playing, even after reading through the book. The graphics on the PS2 are still good today. Granted I spend most of my time playing retro games. I found myself spending more time exploring the world this game is in, and thinking about how it came to the state it is currently in.
Nick walks us through the story of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. He starts off with the connections between the two games. I haven’t played Ico yet, so those connections didn’t really stand out for me as I read the book and played the game. Looking at this world, and the history of it makes me wish there were more games about this place. Not necessarily about this same location, but other stories about the people that live here, or the civilizations that exist in this world. We hear very little about them and most of what we get is the ruins of the forbidden land.
Nick explains how some of the Colossi are living, or protecting, the ruins of a city. We know something happened in this place, and that it was cut off from the rest of the world. The story tells us this place is keeping something imprisoned, and we have to set it free to have a chance at saving the woman we bring to this place. By not telling us directly, the plyer is left to create a story for this place. This can make each person’s experience unique as you create the motivation for the character. You know that the woman needs to be brought back, but you don’t know what the relationship is between the tow of them, or between the King and his riders who arrive later. You also don’t really know how the King knew where you were going.
I remember seeing this game on store shelves several years after it was released. I didn’t know anything about it back then. Nick tells us how he first discovered the game, and what was going on in his life at the time. He talks about how he found out about the game which reminded me of how I used to learn about new games. There were a few ways to learn about new games back in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. The way I heard about them was either through word of mouth, or from just wandering into a game story and seeing a game on the shelf.
We also go through the development of Ico, and then we go more in depth on the development of Shadow of the Colossus. This history of the development team was interesting, but not as interesting as reading about Nick’s experiences with the game. Some part of me feels bad saying this. The way the game was made, and the choices of the development team are a very important part of Shadow of the Colossus. Hearing about them sticking to their plan for the game, and the way they wanted the game to unfold were great. This game reminds me a bit of the way Katamari Damacy was made and released.
Both games were released when the video game industry was focusing on a specific genre. The simple arcade style of game play, Katamari Damacy, and the slower paced adventure, Shadow of the Colossus, weren’t the type of games the bigger publisher thought we wanted. You can see this trend even now; I just don’t have a great example of a game that bucks the current trends. It might just be me getting older. I find myself looking at retro games or looking for indie games that give me a different experience. Game like Shadow of the Colossus game players something different back in the mid-2000s.
As we learn about the game through Nick playing it. He brings up his memories of playing Shadow of the Colossus, how he felt while defeating the Colossi, and the atmosphere of the game. The game does have a creepy atmosphere about it. The large, and mostly empty, map you wander around in, and the strange shadow creatures who bring you back to the main temple after defeating each Colossus. It all makes you feel uneasy. He talks about each of the tricks he’s learned from playing the game, the strategies he uses for each Colossus, and he mentions what he was thinking about whole playing.
There is a very large focus on the world this game exists in. So much of this world isn’t explored or explained to the player. Even it’s connections to Ico aren’t explained to the player. Nick calls it a cinematic adventure, and I can see why he describe it that way. The lore and the story of the world is left up to the player to speculate on. While I was playing the game recently, I thought about what Nick wrote about. I thought about what was going on outside of the game. I think this makes the game special. It’s not just what you see while playing in the game’s world, but what you think is happening in the rest of the games world that you never get to see.