I'm a Human Inbox

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Shadow of the Colossus Impressions

I managed to find a bit of time this weekend to play a videogame, and I decided that it would be Shadow of the Colossus. Although I don't have a PS2, I borrowed one from my roommate in exchange for use of my Gamecube. In any case, I'm incredibly impressed with the game, and I have a lot to say about what's to love, and what's to hate.

I'll start with what I love. For almost the entire game, there is very little talking, except for the beginning and at the end, but despite that I felt that it was one of the most emotionally charged games I've ever played. I keep hearing people talk about when we'll see games that can make us cry, and I think this is the closest example to that goal. Although I didn't cry while playing this game, I don't cry when watching sad movies either, but there definitely was a moment in this game where I almost cried. I think that anyone who has played this game might know the moment I'm talking about. I won't spoil it, but I bet you can guess where the saddest moment was.

Throughout the game, you don't meet a single person. You don't meet any animals save for a few birds and lizards. Your only companion is your horse Argo, and it's amazing how close you feel to your horse throughout the game. This is partially due to the incredible animations they've done for Argo. Argo moves like a real horse in almost every conceivable way, and there are numerous little touches like the fact that if you put your sword away you can pet your horse.

The sound and visuals provide a haunting natural and lonely experience. The landscape is beautiful, and realistic. But the highlight of the game is obviously the Colossuses, which are massive, beautiful and silent creatures. Some of them seem destructive and violent, while others seems peaceful and quiet, but you have to kill them all. That's one thing that is strange about this game, that while you are hunting these gigantic monsters, you're wondering... Should I really be doing this? There seems something, sacrilegious about killing these monsters in order to bring your lover back from the dead.

And yet, despite all of the loving praise I could give this game, it had some major flaws. The controls were frustrating, unintuitive, archaic and downright broken. I hated the controls. I fought with the controls. The controls were an enemy far greater than the Colossuses. Also, the camera was awful, I can't remember a game where I hated the camera so much. There were times that I wanted to just look at the landscape while I rode my horse, but I couldn't because the camera wouldn't let me. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time has spoiled me when it comes to controls, and I don't think I'll see a game which has such perfect control in a very long time.

But this is certainly a game, that really breaks the mold. It's a dragon-slaying game, except without the dragons. It has no story, no speaking, no life, and yet it is a haunting beautiful experience. You've never played a game like this.