Disclaimer: This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 Pro. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher.
I’ve gotten the chance to dive deep into the PlayStation 4 remake of a classic title by the name of Shadow of the Colossus. As most of you probably already know, the original released back in 2005 on the PlayStation 2 and received critical acclaim due to its beautiful world, artistic story, and the bold mechanic of being a video game that features nothing but boss fights. Fast-forward thirteen years and Bluepoint Games has rebuilt the title from the ground up for PS4. First off, I must get this out of the way — this is a must play for anyone who missed the original PS2 release, or its PS3 remaster. Seriously, quit reading this review now and go play this game. Now, you might be curious if this adventure is worth jumping back into if you recently played a previous version; short answer, definitely.
Considering the game originally launched in 2005, I won’t bore you with the stuff that has been known for over a decade, but rather talk PS4 details and differences specifically. You might be wondering how the game controls in comparison to the original. First, there are four different control-types — Classic, Classic Remapped, Modern, and Modern Remapped. Unfortunately, even with the game’s new “modern” control scheme, things still don’t feel quite as natural or fluid as a real modern game. That being said, its PS2-like control schemes do have a level of charm to them and hit you hard with the nostalgia. While shooting the bow with R1 and speeding up the horse with triangle feels a bit odd at first, once you’re an hour or so into your adventure, it all starts to feel more natural. While I played most of the game with the new modern set-up, I think using the “classic” scheme feels more-or-less the same after a few hours. So don’t be afraid to test all of the control schemes out (I recommend trying them out at the beginning so you don’t confuse yourself mid-way through). If you’ve recently played The Last Guardian, put the controls on classic mode, they’re very familiar to that title.
Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broke
Mechanically, Shadow of the Colossus feels almost identical to the PS2/PS3 versions. I expected things to feel a bit different since the visuals got such a treatment. However, the game feels very much the same (camera issues and all). Which may or may not be an issue to you. I’m sure it was intentional of Bluepoint though, as they didn’t want to alter the original artist’s vision. I will say though, I haven’t played the original in about five years, so I could be wrong, but I’m fairly confident it’s all mechanically very similar to the original.
Also new to this version of Shadow of the Colossus is a fan-favorite feature that’s been making its way to a lot of PS4 exclusives lately, photo mode! I personally adore this feature, I don’t even want to think about how long I’ve spent trying to capture the perfect image. If you’re wondering how it is in Shadow of the Colossus, think The Last of Us Remastered or the Uncharted Collection. If you’ve tinkered with those photo-modes before, then you know what you’re getting into — filters, depth of field, post FX — all that jazz. A personal favorite of my photo collection below is above this paragraph. Lastly, the game actually allows you to use these same filters during gameplay, which I thought was a nice touch.
A Magical, Yet Frightening World
For all of you graphics nerds out there, I think you’ll be extremely satisfied with Shadow of the Colossus. In many ways, Shadow of the Colossus for PS4 has to be one of the most visually stunning remakes of all-time. Bluepoint Games went above and beyond with incredible attention to detail. From the way the water ripples, or wild-life reacts to Wander and Argo (the boy and horse), to even how bugs will fly around in swampy areas. It’s all so engrossing and feels like a living, breathing world. All that, along with the impeccable musical score we all know and love, I seriously can’t recommend playing this game enough. Anyway, aside from the obvious graphical overhaul, if you’re playing on a 4K TV, you have some options. You can choose between playing in 1080p with 60FPS, or in lush 4K with 30FPS. For me personally, I prefered 4K, which isn’t usually the case with me. I think the 4K resolution with 30FPS smooths things out a bit more and looks seriously jaw-dropping (especially with HDR enabled).
You already know what Shadow of the Colossus was made up of, and there’s not an ounce of content missing from this remake. Expect the heart-pounding, cinematic gameplay of trying to figure out how to take down giant Colossi. Half puzzler, half action title — a true accomplishment of its time. With the handful of new features and its astonishing fresh coat of paint, I can’t help but recommend a remake of this caliber. Shadow of the Colossus is an odd game, but it brings on moments of peace, disappointment, and triumph. I’d consider it to be among the few must-play PlayStation 4 titles.