Shadow of the Colossus

Cameron Nutter - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: Combat against non-human enemies, blood sprays from enemies, character bleeds during cutscene.

Spiritual Content: Storyline involves a curse and possession, idols are seen.

Nudity: Infant is seen nude.

Slight spoilers ahead.
Your girlfriend has died at the hands of an ancient curse. But really, that’s all the information we’re given. Our hero is told that by slaying giant Colossi, which are spread across the land, somehow his girlfriend will come back to life. From there, the story doesn’t really progress until the end where it drops a bomb shell and then ends.

In this game, you have only one type of enemy. That’s right, one. In the entire game, there are 16 Colossi that you have to fight. No other enemy’s are present in the game at all. You will ride across the land, searching for these giant creatures. The only other living thing in this entire world is your horse and little lizards, which you kill to get more health and arm strength, but they can’t hurt you. When you get to a Colossi, it becomes a puzzle; you must try to find a way to scale the beast, getting to his “weak point”. This could include climbing the hair on his body, making him trip so you can jump on him, or even making him run into a wall. When you find the Colossus’s weak point, a couple of stabs will bring it to its knees. You have a health meter and a “arm strength” meter. As you are climbing the Colossus, your arm strength will slowly go down until it’s totally gone. At which point, your character no longer can hold on, and he falls from wherever he was climbing. The process is varied; each colossi is a new puzzle.

Shadow of the Colossus.  Illustration copyrighted.

In the violence category, this is quite a clean game. Since the enemy’s are limited to the 16 Colossi, what violence there is, you really don’t see that much of it. When you do fight Colossi, they spray black blood, which does spray quite far from their body. That said, it does not get on the character nor on the walls/floor. It just disappears. A character is shot multiple times with arrows, but he also bleeds black blood. Right after that, the same character gets stabbed with a sword, but the camera moves away so you don’t see it.

While the violence isn’t so bad in this game, there is also a moral problem. As you go around killing the Colossi, you notice that they don’t really attack you until you start to attack them. You then realize, you are killing these innocent creatures that have done nothing to the world, just for your own selfish reasons. I started to feel bad about killing the Colossi after a while, because I realized that they didn’t do anything to deserve what the character is doing to them. It might not be a problem for some, but it was tough for me at some points.

Shadow of the Colossus.  Illustration copyrighted.

None at all.

Sexual Content:
None at all. There is a little bit of nudity, but it’s a baby, and it doesn’t really show anything.

Spiritual Content:
Apparently your girlfriend is cursed, and that’s why she died. We don’t really know anything about the curse. The land you are on is the “forbidden” land. They call your hero “possessed by the dead”. The temple you are at has the 16 Colossi as statues, almost as worship items.

Shadow of the Colossus.  Illustration copyrighted.

I am going to put this bluntly: the graphics aren’t incredible. That’s not to say that they’re bad, but I’ve seen better PS2 games. There is also lots of slowdown. Actually, there is hardly ever a clean frame rate. Everything is quite grainy, though that may have been the intention of the creators. But the plus to this problem is the fact that the game is huge. And when I say huge, I mean take what you were thinking about huge and triple it. The draw distance when you are riding your horse is amazing. Positively amazing. The Colossi are also an incredible sight to see. The first Colossus compared to the character is comparable to the size of a kitten to a human. The final Colossus is as big as a house is to a ant. That might give you a glance at what the scale of the game is. It gives Oblivion a run for its money. So what they sacrifice in graphics and frame rate, they give back in sheer size. It’s hard to imagine without really playing the game.

The controls do take a little getting used to, for sure. If you have a cheap controller, you will be falling off Colossi a lot. You have to hold one of the shoulder buttons to hold on to whatever it is you are climbing, and on a junky controller, your finger might get tired, and you might let go. The jumping can get a bit awkward at times. Sometimes as you are scaling, say, one of the Colossi’s hand, he will shake it around, and you will lose control of your character all together, except to hang on for dear life. The camera is constantly getting in the way and not going the way you want it to. Though after a few Colossi, you will get more used to both the controls and the camera, and you will know which way it turns.

The score of this game is amazing. There is a different song for each of the Colossi, and it gives the fight an ever more epic feel. The Colossi don’t really give much sound, but when they walk, you can sure tell that they are walking around; the controller vibrates as the sound of the earth shaking plays through your speakers. The voice overs are all in Japanese.

Shadow of the Colossus.  Illustration copyrighted.

Final Conclusion:
Though plagued with slowdown and a very sad ending, this game is… Well, the best word would be Epic. Each Colossi fight is amazing in its own way, and I didn’t dislike a single one. The story is really sad but still a strong point in the game. The music is amazing, and very well done (no Midi’s here). Some people might be put off because you only fight one type of enemy, but that should never be the reason to turn this game away. Its worth quite a few play thru’s, mostly because they add a professional mode, which really does add a lot to the game. I highly recommend this game, especially at its price of 20$.

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Year of Release — 2006?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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