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Shadow of the Colossus Review: Once more up the beast

Another console, another release of Shadow of the Colossus. The classic title was first released on the PS2 back in 2005 by Team ICO and SIE Japan, then received an HD remaster on PS3 in 2011 thanks to SIE Japan and Bluepoint Games. Those latter HD studios have teamed up once again to release this PS4 version.

Unlike the PS3 release, this current-gen iteration has been rebuilt from the ground up, offering huge benefits for those of us with a PS4 Pro. The beefed up version of Sony’s latest can play in one of two modes: Cinematic, which boasts dynamic 4K resolution targeting 30 frames-per-second (FPS), or Performance, which displays in 1080p targeting 60 FPS.

If Sony can reappropriate existing content for a new release, so can we. Take it away, William Kostakis, the author of our ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD review.

Shadow does away with all the ‘boring’ stuff that weighs games down – you know, like lengthy cut-scenes, dungeons, towns, NPCs to interact with – and whittles gaming down to its essence: epic boss battles,” William wrote way back in 2011.

“You are Wander, and you have to defeat 16 massive colossi to save a girl named Mono,” William continued. “Yes, the controls are a bit on the clunky side and take a bit/lot of getting used to (the menu does give you full control over the button/command allocation, so feel free to change as you see fit), but believe me, once it all clicks, it clicks. What ICO lacks in action, Shadow more than makes up for. These are some of the best video-game boss battles ever conceived, and they’ve never played as well.”

William’s words remain true in 2018. The core game remains untouched; the feelings it elicits are as powerful as ever. Similarly, controls are still clunky and hard to manage — as is the camera. Despite the ability to select from a number of configurations, all will have you distorting to a type of claw grip in order to properly clamber up a colossi. The Modern Remapped style suited me the best, though your milage may vary.

The power of the PS4 Pro will greatly impact your enjoyment of the game. I tried playing in 1080p and 30 FPS on the standard PS4 and found it merely passable. On PS4 Pro, the world’s your oyster — Cinematic mode is great when using the in-game Photo Mode to nail some perfect snaps, while those looking for fantastic gameplay will benefit from Performance mode and 60 FPS. Thankfully, I never experienced what William referred to as “the dodgy frame rate of the original release” in any setup.

Having experienced the frustration of a climb just not working out — I tend to blame camera control over controller configuration — I spaced out somewhat frustrating colossi encounters by having a play around in Photo Mode. I had a blast setting Wander up in numerous positions and situations, playing with in-game filters to the point where I found myself swapping out filters for use in actual gameplay depending on my location. You’ll also find my snaps all throughout this review.

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are not your usual video games,” William concluded back in 2011. “They’re minimal, understated affairs that pack an (unexpected) emotional punch. They will linger with you long after you’ve finished them, so much so that when Roger Ebert says something about video games not being an art form, you’ll be leaving ranty, grammatical-error-plagued comments on his blog citing one of, if not both of, these games.”

While it’s true that Shadow was starting to show its age in 2011 and is continuing to do so in 2018 — even rebuilt from scratch — those who’ve played the title before will revel in the new life that Sony’s breathed into the classic. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’ll be a harder sell — but that said, stick with it. As William said, this is one you shouldn’t miss.

# out of 10

The good

  • A classic, with new life breathed into it.
  • Photo mode is great fun.
  • 60 FPS is glorious on PS4 Pro.

The bad

  • Controls (and the camera) still feel straight from 2005.
  • A harder sell for those who haven’t played it before on PS2 or PS3.


Shadow of the Colossus was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4 Pro, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.

About the author

Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis is a Nintendo tragic. Don’t ask about the hours he’s sunk into Hyrule Warriors or the status of his ShinyDex, unless you want to seriously worry about his priorities. He’s an award-winning author for young adults, best known for The First Third, The Sidekicks and the Zelda-inspired Monuments duology.