December 11-12, 2021
Written by Cristian Stanic
Any opportunity to replay Shadow Of The Colossus is good, but it does raise some questions – is there any artistic value to be found in the latest built-from-the-ground-up remaster? Is this really the kind of game that would benefit from a remake? Does it really need one?
The OG Shadow Of The Colossus is a game that requires no introduction, or shouldn’t, anyway. Released in 2006 (technically 2005 in Japan), it’s one of the most iconic games of all time. Now, fast-forward to 2017, the Shadow Of The Colossus remaster is announced for PS4.
The game was originally released on PS2, and has been remastered once before for the PS3, and it was basically perfect. It was simply an upgrade in resolution and framerate with some small added features, like the full use of the HDTV screen size, and a New Game Plus mode. This new version, however, is an entirely new game, built from scratch with upgraded graphical assets.
Having the fancy new 2018 graphics is cool, but something has been lost in the changeover from the original. Everything just looks too nice now. In SOTC, you spend most of the game in near silence, riding your horse, Agro, from the starting point in the centre of the map, to the next colossus. This silent downtime is meant for self-reflection on what you’ve just done. It’s a time to think about the game, and what it’s trying to show you with its narrative. A narrative that can only truly be appreciated thinking about the game as you play it. It’s what games are supposed to be – interactive storytelling – in its best form. Good graphics don’t necessarily prevent self-reflection and thought, but if the game is constantly trying to “ooh” and “aah” you with its beautiful graphics, that time for pondering may be lost.
The old game was never trying to impress you with its graphics, and the hardware limitations might have actually helped to set the mood. The landscape was barren, empty, and atmospheric. The lack of detail wasn’t a bad thing; it meant there was nothing to distract you. You were forced to just sit and think, there was no alternative, not even music to listen to.
The new game is filled with things constantly happening on screen. There are all new flowers and different kinds of grass, and butterflies flying around, and new particle effects for everything. It’s a cacophony of visuals that may drown out the sense of isolation and introspectiveness the player is supposed to feel.
The HUD has been redesigned to be more minimalistic and less intrusive on the screen. It even disappears when it has nothing to show you, to immerse you more. There are going to be sliders for many of the features the old version had, such as motion blur, and possibly bloom lighting, and there is now a new control scheme option which is apparently “better for beginners.” Thankfully the option to choose the original controls remains.
The 2018 version introduces two options for how to play the game if you own a PS4 Pro: Cinematic mode and Performance mode. Cinematic runs at 30fps with 4K textures. It’s really the definitive version to play if you want to get as close to the original as possible. Performance mode puts the whole game at 1080p resolution, but with 60fps. This is definitely the mode for those of you who are sticklers for the highest performance possible. In this regard, Bluepoint Studios knows what the fans want: Options! Options are a gamer’s best friend.
Shadow Of The Colossus was never about the graphics, and we hope that the great meaning of the game isn’t lost behind all the impressiveness of the new engine because damn, it is absolutely gorgeous. For better or for worse, SOTC 2018 is a different beast from the original, but we’re still hyped for it nonetheless. Bluepoint Studios made the perfect HD port with the PS3 version, now it’s time to see if they really can improve on perfection.