Shadow of the Colossus has always had this incredible sense of ambiance and scale. This has been a game that puts you face to face with these gigantic titans, each one marvelous in their own way. They are stunning foes who could flatten you in an instance. Yet, we triumph over them. We take down these striking, gorgeous creatures, all for the sake of one young woman. Past versions of the game have done a great job of properly conveying this task, but the PlayStation 4 remake goes even further. It is the most beautiful version, which makes these wonders even more striking.
The first colossus in Shadow of the Colossus has always been the tutorial fight. Known by many as Valus, it resembles a minotaur, is easy to avoid, does not put too much effort into shaking Wander off and is not very aggressive. This is the fight that is easiest to speed through. Yet in this remake, it is the introduction to the new level of detail we get to enjoy when facing these foes. The fusion of flash and stone is clearer here. We can see the solid strength of the stone legs and the hairy fur that covers the back of its legs and other portions of its body. Things are more clearly defined. This sigils are more defined and clearer. It is striking.
I felt like Shadow of the Colossus’ latest incarnation helps us better appreciate the more natural movements of these creatures. The fourth, fifth and eleventh colossi are perfect examples of how these minute details seem to be easier to notice in the remake. The fourth, Phaedra, resembles a horse. When it stomps its hooves, I felt like it looked and behaved more like the horse my cousin owned than previous incarnations of the beast. When Avion would perch and swoop, it would be easy to mistake it as a crow with different filters applied. Its poses and flight patterns are gorgeous. And Celosia can sometimes seem like a dog. It is all rambunctious, rushing toward Wander. But the second it sees fire, its tail is between its legs and it is rearing up afraid.
It might also make the anguish feel more real. Seeing the colossi die has always been a heart wrenching affair. We would see them flail in pain. The flow of their life essence erupting from their wounds is more palpable now. These fountains of black, spilling out of them and seeking out Wander, is even more horrifying and unsettling. Seeing Malus, the final colossus, writhing in pain at every hit and attempting to grasp at its wounds and Wander is even more agonizing in this iteration.
The photo mode is a great help in appreciating these creatures. The feature is mapped to the down button on the d-pad. You can bring it up at any time, allowing you to zoom in, rotate, roll, tweak the colors of, and alter the overall appearance of the game in such a way that it becomes possible to investigate elements that might not have been noticeable before. We have the luxury of pausing at any moment to see a battle from various perspectives. This allows us a chance to better take things in during these critical moments.
Shadow of the Colossus is a beautiful game in all of its forms. In this latest version, it is easier to appreciate these gigantic beings that inhabit the world. We can better observe their unique nature. We can see how natural and unnatural they all are. With the photo mode, we can even take a moment to pause, alter our perspective and get an even better look at their majesty. It is a wonderful opportunity to get an even better look at these creatures and lament their fates.
Shadow of the Colossus is available for the PlayStation 4. You can also find it on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3.