One of the PlayStation 2’s defining titles gets the full remake treatment on the PS4, after having a remastering in the interim. Fumito Ueda’s masterpiece gets handed over to Bluepoint Studios, a studio with an impeccable pedigree for remasters and remakes. Is the magic still in the air with Wander’s hunt for the 16 beasts that roam the land?
Game: Shadow of the Colossus
Developer: Bluepoint Studios
Reviewed on: PS4 Pro (Review code provided)
I’ve got a confession to make. Before this review, I’d never finished Shadow of the Colossus. I’ve played it quite a lot, but I always seemed to drop off around number 6 or 7. Something about it didn’t quite grab me, and I’m not sure why. I was looking forward to the remake, having gotten The Last Guardian under my belt and thoroughly enjoyed it. For the uninitiated, Shadow of the Colossus is a tale of Wander, a boy who has stumbled upon a strange land, and needs to vanquish 16 enormous beasts to revive his female companion, Mono. It’s essentially a puzzle game disguised as a boss rush, with a bit of open world exploration thrown in for good measure.
For those more familiar with the game, and indeed Ueda’s catalogue, the feeling of familiarity as you leave the temple for the first time and head off to attack the first colossus is almost overwhelming. While the game is structurally the same, the technical leaps and bounds that have been made since the original release have made the game feel almost like a brand new title. The first time you encounter a colossus, there is a definite sense of “Oh… Oh good god” that creeps over you. The size difference of the beast and Wander and the colossi is simply astonishing. It’s not until you get on top of them that you really start to appreciate it though. Clambering up the fur-lined back of a colossus the size of a building is a visual treat, with the power of the PS4 being used to its fullest potential. When running at 60fps on the PS4 Pro, the hair and fur physics are absolutely astonishing. The hair runs over Wander almost with the fluidity of water, and if it weren’t for the grip meter being continually drained, it’s something that I could stick around and watch for hours.
It’s worth talking about the Pro enhancements, because they’re fantastic. Playing a Team Ico game in 60fps is definitely strange, and dropping between the two modes is certainly jarring for the first 30 seconds or so, but once you’ve adjusted, your eyes are in for a treat regardless of which mode you decide to go with. Cinematic Mode sticks to a solid 30fps, with a host of visual improvements. Downsampled from 1440p, there are additional lighting, particle and visual effects. If you’re playing on a 4K screen, you’ll be able to play it in 2160p, with HDR enabled as well. It’s not a feature I’ve been able to check out just yet (I’m a poor 1080p scrub). The base PS4 is not left in the shade with this one either – It runs at a rock solid 30fps throughout. It’s a huge achievement from Bluepoint to be able to push out a full on remake of this undeniable quality, without tarnishing any of the original game’s artistic vision. Every piece of artwork has been redone for this remake, and Bluepoint have done a wonderful job bringing it into the modern era.
It’s really hard to review a remake like this, in all honesty. If you have any fondness for the original game, it’s a perfect recreation of how you imagined the world to be back in 2006. The control system has been refined to make it a bit less fiddly to play. No longer are you going to be suffering from hand cramps as you try and take down the Colossi! There are a host of collectibles and other goodies to unearth, as well as a new set of trophies for all of you who can’t get enough of the shiny blighters! If I can delve back into the original for a minute, the art direction and everything else associated with it is pretty much the pinnacle of what video games can achieve. Each colossus is intricately modelled with defined weak spots and a believable AI behind it. To say that the game stands on its own in 2018 is testament to just how accurate the many superlatives that were bestowed upon it back in 2006 were.
I won’t go into spoiler territory for those who have yet to complete the game, but there is something to be said about a game that can make you feel increasingly dark and isolated without a word really being spoken. There’s no obvious narrative thread, no fully voice acted cast, but Shadow of the Colossus is a game that I’ve seen make grown men weep.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most critically revered games of the PS2 era, and with this remake, Bluepoint Games have shown that it can stand head and shoulders above most games that are released today. A wonderful experience from start to finish, and a game that is considered to be a landmark in the medium, and with good reason. A phenomenal game that has not only stood the test of time, it has become an absolute must-play in anyone’s PlayStation 4 library through a simply staggering amount of work from Bluepoint. A seminal game that should not be missed.