In this day and age, the word “remake” fills my heart with both delight at the idea that I could potentially revisit the past and experience a classic in modern glory, and paralyzing fear at the possibility of my memories being tarnished by a new version of something beloved.
I remember first being introduced to Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 2, and then also on the PlayStation 3 a few years back. I fell in love with the world, the gameplay, the music, and the story – basically everything you need for a brilliant game.
It’s difficult not to feel skeptical about a remake. It leaves me with a lot of questions: how different is the remake going to be? How will the gameplay be modified to cater to a new audience? What other changes will be made, and will these changes preserve the feel of the original game?
I had all these doubts when Shadow of the Colossus was first announced at E3, and again when I started playing it. But after an hour of playing the game, I was ecstatic. BluePoint Games has done a marvelous job of recreating a masterpiece. That is not to say that the remake is perfect, but it is pretty damn close.
For the uninitiated, Shadow of the Colossus is an adventure game where you play as Wander as he roams a forbidden land with his trusty steed, Agro, and kills giant colossi in an attempt to bring a woman back to life. That is the entire game. If I had to describe the entire 10 hour campaign, I’d say “Go to Colossus, Kill Colossus, Repeat.”
I will admit, the game does get a little repetitive, but only if you choose to play the whole campaign in one go. Breaking it down into little chunks makes it more enjoyable, as every colossus is different and fighting it feels like its own adventure.
The controls on the original game felt just a little bit clunky, but this is something that BluePoint has worked on and made more fluid. The UI, albeit minimal, has also been made to look better.
The biggest, and most significant, upgrade has been to the visuals. BluePoint has absolutely outdone themselves. The game looks like a current-generation game instead of something from the PS2 era. Pretty much everything seems to have been recreated from scratch. The environments look fantastic, the characters look like you’d expect current generation characters to look, and the colossi are incredibly detailed.
The one thing that stood out to me about the colossi was their fur. I remember it being pretty good back in the old days, but now it looks even better. It flows very realistically and makes the game much more immersive than it really is.
However, as I said before, this remake isn’t perfect. When it comes to remaking a game, not only does there need to be a focus on recreating the magic of the original product, but also fixing things or improving aspects that were weak. Here is where BluePoint could have done a slightly better job.
The main thing that annoyed me was just how clunky some of the movement still felt, especially when it came to grabbing ledges and climbing. Sometimes, Wander would just blatantly not grab ledges that were right in front of him. It was extremely frustrating to miss a ledge, fall to the ground and then spend the next 10 minutes trying to get back up, only for it to happen again.
Similarly, another clunky issue was when smaller colossi would knock you down. Wander has a slow animation to get back up every time he is knocked down. This caused problems with smaller colossi. Every time they knocked Wander down, it took a few seconds for the recovery animation to start, and when it did, the colossi would just knock him back down again. This took all control away from me and my only options were to either sit around and wait for Wander to die, or to restart the game – neither of which are particularly appealing.
Finally, my last issue with the game was with the music. Don’t get me wrong, the music is amazing. But the way it plays during battles is annoying. The music only kicks in when you’re on a colossi, and not when you’re chasing it. This makes sense for colossi that are just slowly walking around, waiting for you to approach them, because that is hardly an appropriate atmosphere for battle music. However, for colossi that required you to chase them on Agro deserved some good background music to make the chase feel fun.
Overall, Shadow of the Colossus is a wonderful remake. In fact, this is how remakes should be done. I can only hope that other developers learn from BluePoint when they decide to recreate classics. I would really like to give this a perfect score, but the clunkiness and other issues I mentioned are hard to ignore in this generation of gaming and frustrated me enough to ruin my experience just a little bit.
Shadow of the Colossus Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Rebuilt from the ground up by Bluepoint Games and JAPAN Studio, SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS on PlayStation 4 system introduces the awe of its unforgettable world and towering creatures to a new generation of gamers, while allowing long time fans to revisit the beloved masterpiece with unparalleled visual fidelity and improved performance.
This is easily one of the finest remakes by Bluepoint Games. The improved visuals elevate the experience to a whole another level that is unmatched by even some of the more recent open world games.