Shadow of the Colossus is a third-person action-adventure game developed by Team Ico and originally published by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2005 for the PlayStation 2. The game features the exploits of Wander, a young warrior who seeks to revive a dead maiden named Mono. Wander's journey pits him against the massive "Colossi": sixteen powerful golems created long ago that roam the Forbidden Lands, an uninhabited region of the world that is said to hold the means to restore the souls of the dead.
Shadow of the Colossus is generally considered to be both a prequel and a spiritual successor to Ico, Team Ico's first release. The game was later re-released for the PlayStation 3 along with Ico in a two-game HD collection.
In Shadow of the Colossus, the basic premise is this: Track down the sixteen colossi located throughout the world and kill them. However, the game is unique in that the vast world is almost vacant and void of any living things, except for the colossi, meaning that the colossi are the only battles that the player faces. What makes Shadow of the Colossus unique is not finding ways to use new items, rather, it is finding new ways to use items that the player already has access to.
Shadow of the Colossus takes a unique approach to the adventure, puzzle, and platforming genres by blending their elements in ways no game has before. One particular difference Shadow of the Colossus has from other games is that it is, for the most part, only a series of boss fights. These boss fights, the battles against the colossi, make up much of the gameplay.
In keeping with the relatively simple and minimalist feel of everything else, the player will have only two weapons throughout the course of the game: a sword and a bow.
- Players will be using Wander's sword a lot throughout the course of the game to track down the colossi, and to, of course, kill them. This game features much stabbing action.
- The bow is much less a weapon as it is a tool. Players will find that arrows are largely ineffective against the colossi, but will attract their attention. Wander carries unlimited arrows.
- Although players will not find any new weapons in their journey, it is possible for them to collect new items and upgrades by defeating the game's massive bosses again in a Time Attack mode. These new items range from cloak that functions as a parachute to a whistling arrow capable of attracting the attention of the colossi to a nod to the predecessor of Shadow of the Colossus with the inclusion of the Queen's Sword from Ico.
Luckily for Wander, he's joined by Agro, his horse and sole companion on this adventure. By riding the horse, not only does it help players get around quickly, but increases mobility when needed - such as during fights with the colossi. Many colossi require Agro's assistance to take down, whether it be to mount the colossus, or simply keep a step ahead. When riding Agro, players are able to use the bow and aim independently of the horse's direction, even firing arrows directly behind Wander. Players can also perform certain tricks and stunts, such as standing on top of the horse, hanging down to the side, or even jumping off at full speed - propelling the player to those places just out of reach.
One aspect that makes Agro unique is how alive he seems to the player. He will only go at the pace Wander makes him, he gets spooked by colossi and loud noises, and he often navigates away from ledges on his own.
Before players fight the colossi, they will first need to track them down. This is made simple by Wander's magical sword. When standing in sunlight, pressing and holding the circle button will result in him raising his sword towards the sky. A beam of light emanating from the tip will then point directly to the colossi the player is hunting. It is then up to the player to navigate their way through the landscape towards their destination.
Once successfully finding these colossi, the next goal - take them down. As fearsome as these look, they do have weak points - which can be easily found by raising the sword. However, the challenge lies in actually reaching these areas. There are sixteen battles in total, all epic in scale, but each of the colossi has a unique weakness which will need to be exploited in order to reach and attack its weak point. The player must figure out how to get on the colossus, and often must get its attention by whistling or shooting at it with the bow. Eventually, players will be able to climb atop each beast, clinging to their fur as they try to throw Wander off, and once reaching each weak point, Wander will prepare his sword and gain strength by pressing or holding the square button. Upon a second a button press, the sword will be plunged into the colossi for massive damage, resulting in a fountain of black blood. By attacking the weak points, the colossus will eventually fall. Each battle could be considered a puzzle, and players will need to use their wits, the surrounding environment, and in some cases - their horse, in order to achieve victory.
By holding the R1 button, Wander will grab onto what ever he can - ledges, fur of the colossi, even fish and birds -- and be able to move around whilst doing so in most cases. However, he won't be able to hold on indefinitely. As Wander climbs about, or struggles to hold on to a thrashing Colossi, he will steadily lose his grip. This is represented as a pink circle in the bottom right-corner of
the screen, and as grip deteriorates and the circle will slowly drain. When entirely depleted, Wander will then let go and fall. Thankfully, grip naturally regenerates when the player is not holding on to anything, and so players will need to pick choice moments during fights in which to regain their grip before continuing. A similar "grip" system is used while swimming. The grip meter slowly increases in size over the game, growing after defeating each Colossus.
Like so many other games, Wander has a gauge representing his health in Shadow of the Colossus, this gauge takes the form of a red bar at the bottom of the screen, which depletes as Wander takes damage. Falling or being stepped on will harm Wander. Wander will slowly regain health as time passes, but he can also crouch or pat Agro which will speed up the regeneration. By gathering fruit, the player can increase Wander's health.
As the story begins, we see the Wander closing into a forbidden land, riding his faithful horse, Agro, and carrying a body wrapped in a cloak. As he approaches the huge Shrine of Worship at the center of the land, he lays the body upon the altar. As the cloak is removed, the body is revealed to be that of a young beautiful maiden named Mono.
Suddenly, a number of ancient shadow like creatures attempt to attack the Wander, but they quickly back off upon drawing an ancient sword he keeps in his possession. Soon after, an ethereal voice is heard, that of Dormin, a bodiless entity who appears surprised that Wander owns the sword. Wander begs Dormin to grant Mono her soul back to her but Dormin says he will need something from Wander. Dormin explains that Mono's soul can only return to her body if Wander traverses the land that he has entered and seeks out sixteen colossi that lie hidden throughout the land, and slay them, an act which can only be achieved by using the very sword the Wander owns.
He quickly agrees to take on this task, but Dormin warns him that he may need to pay a great penalty in return for Mono receiving her soul once more, but this does not hinder Wander, who immediately sets out to follow his sword and find the sixteen colossi.
Throughout the course of the tale, and with the death of each Colossus, Wanders physical appearance appears more distorted and depleted. He grows paler, with darker hair and he appears to grow small horns on his head. On the contrary, Mono's body appears stronger with each Colossus killed, and her voice becomes heard briefly throughout the game.
As Wander proceeds, he finds himself hurried by Dormin to conquer the final sixteenth beast. On his way to the final Colossus, Wander travels by horseback over a long stone bridge, that begins to collapse soon after setting foot upon it. Agro, sensing the danger, reaches the end and suddenly bucks Wander off, who lands safely, whilst Agro collapses along with the bridge.
As Wander defeats the last of the Colossus, Lord Emon and his gang of warriors appear in the Shrine of Worship as the last of all the idols representing the Colossi crumbles to the ground. Soon after, Wander appears in the temple, with his eyes and skin entirely pale and his head showing two protruding horns. As Wander struggles to reach to Mono, Lord Emon declares Wander to be 'possessed' and a warrior shoots him in his leg with a crossbow. Another warrior stabs him with his sword through the chest. As Wander crumples to the ground, his blood sprays black and he falls in a very similar fashion to the sixteen Colossi he had just slain.
Immediately, Dormin's soul possesses the Wanders body in the form of a shadowy giant and explains that his own soul was cast from his body to limit his power. As Emon's men flee, Emon himself grasps the ancient sword and turns to the back of the shrine and casts the sword into a pool of water near the back. An absurd light is suddenly emitted and as Emon and his men flee, the light consumes both Dormin and Wander. Emon and his men run across the bridge connecting the Shrine of Worship away from the forbidden land as it begins to collapse. As Emon and his men arrive safely at the Forbidden Lands exit, Emon ponders Wanders fate, hoping that one day he will be able to atone for his actions.
Meanwhile, Mono awakens from her sleep due to the deal made between Dormin and Wander. As Agro wanders into the temple, with an injured hind leg, Mono follows him towards the back of the Shrine towards the pool of water, where Emon drew Dormin and Wander. There they find an infant, with two horns on his head. As the horse leads onwards and upwards, Mono follows with the infant to the top of the shrine, where a secret garden lies, overlooking the forbidden lands as the game ends.
The Sixteen Colossi
No official names have ever been assigned to the game's sixteen Colossi, but fans have given unofficial monikers to each of them for the sake of reference. Agro may also participate in certain Colossi battles when appropriate. After completing the game once, players can try a special Time Attack mode for each Colossus during subsequent playthroughs of the game, and clearing these challenges can unlock new items for Wander to use.
After completion of the game, a Time Attack mode is unlocked and can be accessed on a second playthrough. For every two Colossi the player defeats within the allotted time, Dormin will give Wander a special item. These include items which can distract Colossi, make Wander invisible to the Colossi, increase damage Wander does to Colossi, or decrease damage Wander receives from Colossi. There is also an item which helps Wander detect nearby white-tailed lizards, and a map of all the fruit trees in the game.
There are both normal and hard mode versions of time attack mode, and the respective difficulty level must be completed once in order to access them. After completing the game on a save file, post credits, the game will ask players if they would like to begin a New Game+ save. Once in the New Game+ save, by praying at the statues (or rubble) of any of the Colossi, players can access the time attack mode.
The items received from completion of the time attack mode are as follows.
|2||Whistling Arrows||Harpoon of Thunder|
|4||Cloak of Force||Sword of the Sun|
|6||Mask of Strength||Fruit Tree Map|
|8||Lizard Detection Stone||Shaman's Cloak|
|10||Fruit Tree Map||Lizard Detection Stone|
|12||Mask of Power||Shaman's Mask|
|14||Cloak of Deception||Cloak of Desperation|
|16||Flash Arrow||Queen's Sword|
Completion of all the time trials in each mode also grants access to a brown (normal) and white (hard) version of Agro, by holding down the square or circle buttons, respectively, while loading a save.
The Secret Garden
The secret garden is a hidden area located near the top of the castle, and is accessed by climbing up the side of the castle. However, the ascent is long and only veteran players will be able to reach this area due to the high level of grip required to reach the top successfully. Although there isn't much to do here, the fruit in the garden will decrease the player's health and grip meter when eaten.
Although Wander's grip naturally increases after subsequent boss battles, it is possible for players to manually increase this. After spotting one of the special lizards located throughout the world that have a white tail, the lizard can be attacked with the sword, while the tail itself can be detached from the body with a well-aimed arrow. Wander can then consume the tail with the circle button, increasing his grip slightly.
In a similar manner, players can increase Wander's health by locating the fruit trees dotted throughout the landscape. Fruit can be picked off using the bow, and then eaten off of the ground to increase Wander's maximum health slightly.
Relation to Ico
Shadow of the Colossus is considered by many to be set in the same universe as Ico - Team Ico's previous game - and is seen as a prequel. There is much speculation regarding the story elements connecting the two since much is implied yet not explicitly stated.
Several connections can be made between the two games, with the most clear cut one being the presence of horns on both the characters. Although Ico is seemingly born with the horns, Wander develops them through the course of the story, and so It is widely believed that he is an early ancestor to Ico. This is in line with the story line of Ico. The sorceress - seen during the game and at its conclusion - uses the sacrifices of the horned children as the source of her power and physical longevity which makes sense considering their lineage. They are descendants of Wander - one infused with the spirit of a God. Yorda, the girl to be sacrificed in Ico, also shares stark visual similarities with Mono from SotC, along with the nature of their thwarted sacrifices. The two stories are also connected by the same thread of beauty, elegance and mystery.
- The game was featured in a movie called Reign Over Me, which starred Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle. Shadow of the Colossus was chosen to appear in the film because of the falling colossi's resemblance to the falling of the Twin Towers in New York - a key concept in the movie.
- Shadow of the Colossus was called "Nico" while in development. This is a combination of "Ni", the Japanese word for "two" and "Ico", a previous game from this developer. This lead to fan speculation that it would indeed be a direct sequel to the cult-hit, Ico. The game was originally devolved as a co-op game where up to 4 players would work together on taking down a Colossus. Concept video of a very early build of "Nico" can be found here.
Shadow of the Colossus Original Soundtrack: Roar of the Earth
Total length: 75:49
- Prologue -To The Ancient Land-
- Prohibited Art
- Black Blood
- Sign of the Colossus
- Grotesque Figures
- The Opened Way
- The End of the Battle
- Idol Collapse
- Green Hills
- A Violent Encounter
- Revived Power
- In Awe of the Power
- Wander's Death
- The Farthest Land
- Creeping Shadow
- A Messenger From Behind
- Sky Burial
- A Closed-Off City
- A Liberated Guardian
- A Despair-Filled Farewell
- Swift Horse
- Gate Watcher of the Castle Ruins
- Demise of the Ritual
- A Pursuer
- Premonition of Revival
- The Sunlit Earth
- Voice of the Earth
- Final Battle
- The Farthest Land (Reprise)