Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Shadow of the Colossus: bringing down the knight

I have owned this on the PS2, in a lovely art set with postcards, and twice on the PS3: once on a disc alongside Ico, and once digitally.  I have owned this on the PS4 on disc, bought for a birthday.  I also acquired it when it was given away with PS+.

There are some games I own many copies of because they are classics that I wish to enjoy in many places.  Sonic and Sonic 2 are the obvious examples; Populous the Beginning on PS, PC CD-ROM, and now GOG; Journey; Peggle.  This is not one of those games.  I own this many times because I keep promising myself that I will play it.

And now I have.

The game is breathtaking in its scale, particularly when you consider its PS2 origins.  The world feels huge and intricate, and while not up to GTA3 levels of detail it feels alive.  There is a real sense of belonging and duty, to keep the world functioning, and to save the life of the girl you bring to the temple at the start.  It also feels oppressive, with you being commanded by an unseen deity to go and vanquish the giants that inhabit the land.

Off we pop, then.

Given the size of the world, luckily you have a horse to ride to get you to the far off places quickly.  The horse is well coded, responding to your commands with a bit of leeway to allow for animal eccentricity.  I found quite quickly that you can lean off the horse to fire arrows or use your sword while the horse carries on running, though as soon as you start to aim the horse's path changes.  Not sure I'll use that much.

Other than a light game of exploring the world, with some lizards that seem to increase your stamina bar and some fruit that increases your energy, the main aim is to find and defeat large monsters - seemingly half living, half stone - by climbing up them and reaching a glowing area which you then repeatedly stab until the colossus dies.  They don't like being stabbed, so you have to stop stabbing them from time to time to hold on as they shake and try to dislodge you.  After a lot of stabbing the monster collapses, you get transported back to the central temple, and repeat.

I have, so far, stabbed three monsters, and they have been varied and clever.  I tried to stab the fourth but so far haven't worked out how to climb up it.  Something to ponder.

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