How do you make something that’s already beautiful even more beautiful? This is a question eagerly answered by Bluepoint Games, known mainly for remastering classics for PS3 and PS4, such as the first two God of Wars, the Uncharted Trilogy, and Gravity Rush. They even worked on the PS3 remasters for the defunct Team Ico’s hit titles: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. But merely upgrading the resolution of Shadow of the Colossus wasn’t enough for Bluepoint, so they along with members of SIE Japan Studio set out to re-create the game from the ground up. What unfolded was the best remake this industry has ever seen.
Set in a fantasy world, a wanderer enters a Forbidden Land, bringing a dead maiden to be resurrected by a mystical entity called the Dormin. In order to do this, the wanderer must defeat the sixteen Colossi inhabiting the Forbidden Land. From here, players take control of him and set out to hunt these massive beings in epic and often-times stressful battles.
The PS4 version is the exact same game as it was on the PS2, with the only differences being the graphics engine, rebuilt assets, and a modernized control scheme, which can be changed in the settings if you prefer the classic button layout. This doesn’t mean that the protagonist doesn’t feel any easier to play, because the way he controls still contributes to the difficulty. You will still lose your balance if you decide to walk on a moving colossus and get your attacks interrupted by them trying to shake you off. Thankfully the more comfortable design of the PS4’s Dualshock 4 controller makes it easier than it ever was on the PS2 and PS3.
While the issue of controls are subjective when discussing any game by Team Ico or SIE Japan, the camera in this game can still be a wonky mess at times. However, I’m happy to report that the issues stop here, as Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 is the definitive way to experience this game. After all, how much more can we ask from a remake other than to keep the core gameplay with a fresher coat of paint?
Graphically, Shadow of the Colossus doesn’t just look amazing for a remaster, but as a video game in general. I can say with confidence that it is undoubtedly the best-looking game I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t even play it on a PS4 Pro. Admittedly this is the one game I wish I owned a Pro for, since owners of this console will be able to play at 1440p upscaled to 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps, both with HDR. Regardless, I am still awestruck at just how stylized and realistic Shadow of the Colossus looks on the PS4. There were times where I had to slow down for a bit to just admire the sheer beauty of this world, and snap a photo in the in-depth photo mode. You can even unlock comparison art by completing colossus fights in a certain amount of time, with different filters enabled, etc.
With the details of the remake out of the way, how good is Shadow of the Colossus as a game? If you have never played it before back on the PS2 or PS3, you’ve probably heard its praises sung at least once by fellow gamers. This is for good reason. Shadow of the Colossus is an artistic achievement in gaming, with spectacle that is hard to come by in most modern games.
The only enemies in the game are sixteen colossi, each with their own unique designs and arenas. The sheer size of these colossi and the way they are presented is incomparable, aided by a fantastic orchestral score and expert camera placement. Each colossus needs to be climbed in order to be killed, and figuring out how to get on them can be a puzzle on its own, since you can only grip on to their hair which is often out of plain sight. Most of the difficulty lies in figuring out how to attack them rather than just attacking them. Still, you will feel immense satisfaction after every victory.
Aside from a few minor issues with the camera and controls, Shadow of the Colossus is something every gamer should experience one way or another. But if you don’t feel like hooking back up your PS2 or PS3, the PS4 remake is the easiest and better solution. You’re getting the same exact game, just with a newer and gorgeous graphics engine. I still believe it is the best-looking game I’ve witnessed so far. Combined with its good looks is the sheer amount of spectacle that still goes unmatched in video games to this day.