Shadow of the Colossus

1.

After completing it roughly a month ago, it took me a while to gather my thoughts on Team Ico’s classic game Shadow of the Colossus. This isn’t necessarily because it had an impact only a masterpiece can have, but because I’ve been wondering whether it really deserves that title at all. The consensus has spoken and I can join the chorus or be a contrarian.

2.

With such an effortlessly confident piece that one can compare to a quite poem without being hyperbolic or pretentious, criticism should come in carefully administered doses. While scouting through vast deserted lands to seek out gigantic creatures in order to climb and then slaughter them; awe was occasionally replaced with frustration. One month later however, I remember the awe much more than the frustration.

In a story that reveals less than it holds back, our hero visits a cursed land in a desperate attempt to resurrect his fallen girl. Desperate it is no less; his only hope is to believe a disembodied voice who instructs him to kill sixteen monstrous giants referred to as “colossi”. The promise of resurrection is doubtful, the request sinister, and the repeated slaughter of creatures is outright bizarre at times. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found the slow death of each colossi quite disturbing. And of course this is a game where we have to assume the role of the butcher.

The aforementioned frustration emerges when the destruction of the creatures becomes hideous after repeating the same series of actions several times only to fail again at an overtly delicate point. At this lingering stage we no longer try to figure out ‘how to do it’, but instead make repeated attempts to reach the point where strategy is once again required. If Shadow of the Colossus gets criticism for anything other than this, I must disagree. The gameplay is quiet, but that’s certainly not because the creators forgot to put a character around every corner and under every tree. If you enter this world, expect to be lonely because that’s exactly how the hero is supposed to feel.

3.Team Ico’s second game plays like a novel where thoughts of the protagonist fill out the vastness of the beautiful land he rides through on his loyal horse. But these thoughts aren’t written for us to read; they emerge in the players’ mind as they try what seems impossible right from the start. This is a quest that’s doomed; although the end might bring us closer to what we wanted to achieve, but not quite. How that’s possible, and how this turns out to be a prequel to the game made by the same team titled “ICO” will unfold during the last fifteen minutes of the experience. The arbitrary nature of the word “masterpiece” can hardly be more evident. If the title doesn’t require for the piece to be flawless (and it perhaps shouldn’t), then Shadow of the Colossus most certainly deserves it.

 

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~ by arpadlukacs on January 28, 2014.

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