Reader Jadawin noted my interest in Shadow of the Colossus and offered me his copy. Thanks to him for contributing my second game to my PS2 collection!
I’ve read bits here and there about this game. I’d heard that the game was “all bossfights”, which seemed like a strange idea.
|Yes, I’ll make a bargain with a strange god to bring my dead girlfriend back to life. I’m sure that is a fantastic idea and there won’t be any serious consequences.|
Now, we can tell this is an astoundingly bad idea. The god was even sporting enough to warn the kid that he might not like the results. This game may end in tragedy, but that is not a drawback. Unlike Neverwinter Nights 2, this game isn’t going to unexpectedly snatch away victory from the triumphant player. We can see from the outset that this is headed nowhere good, but the young man is driven and there will be no dissuading him. I’m pretty hooked at this point, if for no other reason than to see what price he pays in the end.
The young man (okay, I’m looking his name up online so that I can refer to him directly) Wander has a sword with some magical properties that make defeating the Colossi possible, and this makes the god willing to hear him out. This makes me think he’s been at this for a while already. (Although it does make me wonder about the condition of his beloved’s remains. Even if it’s only been a couple of days, it seems like she might be… poor company at this point.)
The dialog is subtitled, and spoken in what is either Japanese or a fictional language. Either way, this was a good decision. The bargain between the god and Wander could have felt corny if it had been delievered in plain modern English.
|A composite image: Wander enters the forbidden lands. My screenshots here had to be retouched quite a bit. This game is done in low-contrast lighting and pale colors, which ended up making the screenshots look muddled after my video capture card got done with them.|
These colossi do not look evil. They are fearsome and mighty, but it looks like they would be happy to roam around the landscape minding their own business if not for the fact that my character is a heartless bastard bent on destroying them. I’ve seen other people express sadness and regret over felling these things, and I have to admit I felt the same way. When the beast finally falls, there is a sense of triumph as well as loss.
I enjoy the game, although I’m not particularly good at it. I was baffled by one colossus, who seemed un-climbable. After getting pancaked a few times I resorted to looking up the walkthrough. I’m glad I did. I’m not sure I would ever have figured it out.
There is a lot of trial-and-error here, but I’m not going to call it DIAS gameplay. It’s just the nature of the game, and I don’t know how you would go about making the game more forgiving without simply making it easier. While death and retry are inevitable, it doesn’t feel arbitrary. The game is polite enough to position you back at the start of the fight whenever you get stomped, and doesn’t punish you with a lot of extra travel for each attempt. (At least, not so far.)
The gameplay isn’t really my thing, but the plot and visuals are enough to propel me forward.
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