Though the game shares many stylistic, aesthetic, and atmospheric elements with Ico, Shadow of the Colossus's core gameplay is quite different. The game focuses on a young man, known only to us as Wander (or "the Wanderer"), who is tasked with finding and killing sixteen colossi that reside in a desolate expanse of land, in the hopes of resurrecting a sacrificed girl named Mono.
Shadow of the Colossus enjoyed significantly more coverage by the media than Ico did, due in large part to an extensive viral marketing campaign that helped spread the game's unique concept and style around the gaming community by word of mouth. The game sold well, eventually making the "Greatest Hits" lineup of PlayStation 2 games in the year following its release, and has received numerous awards for its gameplay, soundtrack, art direction, animation, and overall quality.
The game was re-released alongside ICO for the PlayStation 3 on 27 September 2011 in NTSC regions as The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection.
SynopsisEditOne cloudy night, a lone hawk flies by two longtime companions - Wander and his horse, Agro - navigating an unforgiving cliffside path on the edge of a canyon. The two have been traveling for a long time on this offbeat path, through murky forests and wet grasslands alike.
They arrive at last at their destination: a tall stone gate with a narrow passage. On the other side lies an enormous bridge of near-otherworldly construction. The bridge spans over the Forbidden Lands, an isolated and nearly empty stretch of expansive plains and canyons alike.
The bridge finally comes to an end at the Shrine of Worship, a gigantic structure in the middle of the Lands. Wander and Agro make their way to the ground floor and the temple's main hall, which is lined with sixteen stone idols. At the end of the empty hall is an altar. Here it is shown that Wander is carrying something with him - a body wrapped in a cloth sheet. He places the body on the altar and removes the sheet, revealing Mono - a young girl clothed in a white dress - underneath.
The game suddenly cuts to a picture of an owl mask amidst a cloudy sky. From here, Lord Emon, a spiritual leader in Wander's society, speaks an esoteric monologue:
|That place...began from the resonance of intersecting points...|
They are memories replaced by ens and naught and etched into stone.
Blood, young sprouts, sky - and the one with the ability to control beings created from light...
In that world, it is said that if one should wish it, one can bring back the souls of the dead.
But to trespass upon that land is strictly forbidden...
Agro is suddenly frightened by a noise from behind the trio. Several shadowy apparitions are emerging from the temple floor. Wander sees this and draws a mysterious sword from its sheath, pointing it towards the shadows. The blade emits an otherworldly energy and the creatures immediately dissolve into thin air. Immediately, a booming pair of voices fill the halls from a great aperture above, surprised that Wander possesses the "Ancient Sword". Wander correctly identifies the voices as belonging to Dormin, and asks that Mono be revived. Initially, Dormin expresses an indifference towards the matter, but ultimately cannot hide the interest in the sword Wander carries.
Remarking that it "may not be impossible" to bring Mono back to life, Dormin makes a deal: destroy the sixteen idols that line the walls of the Shrine, and Mono will be revived. The idols can only be destroyed by killing their living incarnations - the sixteen colossi. Dormin warns Wander that in doing this, the price he pays "may be heavy indeed". Wander's reply is simple: "It doesn't matter." With that, Dormin instructs Wander to be on his way, telling him to raise the Ancient Sword up in a sunlit area. When he does, eight soft beams of light emit from the blade's tip in the eight compass directions; the beams converge and become brighter when they are pointed in the direction of a colossus.
The colossi prove to be intimidating creatures, but Wander is able to exploit their behavior, hidden weaknesses, and the environment to bring them down. He kills each one by stabbing glowing sigils in their fur, often located on their heads or torsos. After each colossus dies, its corpse is covered in a layer of shadow, and several black tendrils emerge from the colossus's body and embed themselves in Wander, rendering him unconscious. He is returned to the Shrine through unknown means, with a number of shadow creatures (equal to the number of defeated colossi) standing around his body. The camera pans to the colossus's idol, which implodes in a flash of light. The camera pans back to Wander - the shadow creatures have since vanished - who looks up to the aperture to receive a hint about his next target from Dormin.
As Wander kills more colossi, his physical appearance deteriorates. His skin becomes darker, with dark lines becoming visible on his face and neck later on. His hair, initially an auburn shade of red, becomes darker. His clothes become torn and dirtier, blackened in streaks with the blood of the slain giants. His overall health, stamina, and physical strength, however, all increase with the mysterious dark force collecting inside him. Halfway through his task, he has a vision, of Mono awakening and him being quickly sucked to the other end of the room before he awakens. When only four colossi remain, we learn that Wander is being followed: a cutscene plays showing several horsemen stopping in a clearing. They are led by Lord Emon, who sees the entrance to the Forbidden Lands and the top of the Shrine of Worship on the horizon and tells his men that they only have a short distance to go.
With just one colossus left, Dormin tells Wander to make haste, for the arrival of Emon's company is imminent. Wander heads towards the final colossus, opening a seal in the far southern area of the Lands with the Sword's light to gain access to the final area. A fragile bridge spans an enormous canyon between Wander and the lair of the colossus; as he rides across on Agro, the bridge quickly collapses. At the last second, Agro bucks Wander off of her to the other side, sacrificing herself. Wander cries out and watches helplessly as Agro plunges into the canyon river far below. A storm gathers as Wander makes his way up a sheer cliff to the final colossus.
Emon's company make their way across the big bridge spanning the Lands in full gallop. They open the door to the shrine and quickly make their way to the main hall. There is one idol left lining the walls; as they gather around it, Emon watches in horror as it implodes, breaking the seal that contained Dormin's power. They quickly run to the altar, where Emon says a prayer at the side of Mono's body, when they hear a sound behind them. Wander has reappeared at the shrine; horns are visibly protruding from his head and his skin has turned a lifeless shade of purple. The Ancient Sword falls to the ground soon after, lodging itself in the ground.
Emon, in angered disbelief, condemns Wander for stealing the sword and using it to kill the colossi. The shaman orders his men to shoot, noting that Wander has been possessed by the dead and was "only being used" by Dormin. One of Emon's men hits Wander in the leg with a crossbow bolt. Wander doubles over in pain; a shadowy substance pours forth from the wound and begins to cover his leg. Wander desperately tries to get up and crawl towards Mono, but Emon orders his men to finish him off. One of them walks up to Wander and impales him in the chest with his sword. Wander, however, stands up and slowly pulls the sword from him as he is fully encased in shadow. Several shadow creatures emerge from the ground and merge themselves in, until the shadow grows to fill the entire hall. Dormin has been resurrected.
Emon's men quickly grab the sword and flee the Shrine to escape from Dormin who has "borrowed" Wander's body, leaving behind Mono, who continues to lay lifeless on the altar. Dormin are too slow to pursue them, and they escape. Before they leave the Shrine, Emon utters an incantation and furiously throws the sword into the shallow pool of water at the back of the Shrine. The water lights up and becomes a vortex, stripping Dormin's essence out of Wander until only his shadow remains. Wander is then sucked into the pool as well.
With Dormin sealed away, the giant bridge begins to collapse. Emon's men return to their horses and ride across, just barely making it to the other side. When they get there, Emon takes one last look at the Shrine, noting that now no one will trespass on the Forbidden Lands ever again. He hopes that if Wander still lives - if anything in the Forbidden Lands indeed can - he will one day atone for his crimes.
Back in the Shrine's hall, Dormin has kept his promise to Wander, as Mono has been given new life. She sits up and looks around at her unfamiliar surroundings. Shortly after, Agro limps into the Shrine, having miraculously survived the fall. The two walk to the basin at the back of the Shrine. The water is now gone but in its place is a baby boy with horns on its head. Mono picks up the infant while Agro walks back up the spiral to the Shrine's northern entrance. When the two walk out the back door, they notice the bridge has been destroyed. Though there is no way out, Agro finds another path leading higher up the Shrine. At the path's end, they find a garden with several creatures living in it, including some doves, a squirrel and a fawn, as well as fruit trees. The lone hawk flies out of the garden and over the Lands as night comes once again, a symbol showing that, even after the release and final sealing of Dormin, after the deaths of all the colossi, and after being sealed off from the rest of the world, life still goes on in the Forbidden Lands.
The PAL version of the game was released in February 2006, much like the PAL release for Ico, the game came in cardboard packaging displaying various pieces of artwork from the game, and contained four art cards.
The game also came with a making of documentary, a trailer for Ico and a gallery of concept art accessible from the game menu
|Lord Emon||Dormin||The Colossi|
Shadow sold more copies than Ico across all regions, and has since joined the "Greatest Hits" series of games for the PlayStation 2.
- "It’s a masterfully understated, beautifully simple, engrossing ride that's as palpitatingly thrilling as it is serenely calming. It's also one of the most consistently compelling and memorable games we've ever played (or witnessed, for that matter)."
- "My first time through the game was the best eight hours of gameplay I've experienced in years, and it's game's only gotten better with subsequent playthroughs."
- "A true masterpiece in terms of art direction and, dare I say, cinematography. From the fights with the colossi to exploring the world to basically just standing back and letting it all soak in, Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing experience and an absolute must-have title."
- "Groundbreaking camera system, amazing soundtrack, perfect visuals, and controls that are unique but obviously from the developers of ICO. The technology that makes it all come together is baffling."
- "It's a game that dares you to exhilarate while hammering you with consequence. In short, Shadow of the Colossus breaks storytelling barriers none of us knew existed. It's the rare game for which the often overused words "ground-breaking" were truly reserved for, and it's enough to make you regret every stupid coin you ever collected."
In addition to much critical acclaim, Shadow of the Colossus has received numerous awards, including Best Game of the Year at the 6th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. In November 2009, Destructoid named it the best game of the decade, calling it "a masterful work of art and a gaming experience like no other".
In April 2009, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment would be making a film version of the game. No director has been announced, but the producer of The Scorpion King, Kevin Misher, and screenwriter of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Justin Marks, are both behind the adaptation. On May 23, 2012, it was announced that Josh Trank (the director of the acclaimed film Chronicle) would be directing the film. At this time, Sony is interviewing writers to write another script for the film.