An open-world action/adventure game in which a young wanderer, along with a stolen magical sword and his steed companion, trespasses a cursed land, makes a deal with an ancient being to bring a sacrificial victim back to life, and sets off to fulfill his end of the bargain, which involves tracking down and infiltrating the abodes of sixteen colossi and sacrificing them to achieve his goal.
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I’d say that for probably around half of the colossi, it took me multiple minutes to understand what I was supposed to do, or to figure out how to execute it. I’m kind of stupid, so I’ll take the blame for some of the issues I had in this game, but I doubt that at least a few of my problems weren’t shared by a lot of other players. In some cases, I just resorted to looking up the answer, which really sucked. I feel like this game does so much right to create a really good flow state when you’re battling a colossus, but it got halted in its tracks so often and pulled me out of the experience. It was really unfortunate that this also happened in the final battle.
Regardless, a lot of the battles went really well. When I was able to understand what I was supposed to do in a reasonable amount of time and the controls didn’t mess me up, I completely loved the game. At times, the flow state that I was put in was essentially perfect: when the gameplay, art design, and of course, the incredible music combine properly, I can’t really find the words to describe how great it is. It makes me understand why this game is so beloved by so many people. Especially if you originally played this back in 2005, (the year I was born) I imagine it was even more impressive and powerful.
To touch on the story a little, I don’t have too much to say besides it is just as quality as the story in Ico, a prime example of “less is more.” One huge flaw of current day games is that so many of them commit the awful storytelling flaw of explaining everything about their world and making everything boring. Games like Shadow of the Colossus and Ico have scripts the size of one of the dozens of lore entries in other games like Death Stranding, but do so much more with it. There is clearly so much history in the forgotten lands, but the player is expected to fill in the gaps by themself, making them just as important in crafting the story as the developers. I feel like that creativity on behalf of the consumer is something that an interactive experience especially makes sense to strive for.
Shadow of the Colossus isn’t perfect, but it does enough things perfectly to deserve its reputation.