With all these shiny new releases attempting to sell us on the magnificence of 4K gaming, there’s a beautiful irony in the fact that I came away from Paris Games Week most convinced by a remake of a 12-year-old PlayStation 2 game: Shadow of the Colossus.
As I climb atop of my trusty steed Agro and take my first steps across Shadow of the Colossus’ harsh landscape, Fumito Ueda’s all-too-familiar world suddenly feels new again. Where once the grainy desert of the game’s opening felt barren, protagonist Wander now treks across an impressive, jaw-droppingly rendered sea of sand.
Immediately Agro’s gallop falls into a hypnotizing rhythm. The gloriously animated sun bears down on our lightly bouncing hero. It’s clear that Shadow Of The Colossus has lost none of its eerie atmosphere. After attempting to take down three of the majestic beasts, I believe the massive bump in visual fidelity may have even — whisper it — added to the original’s haunting sense of emptiness.
A New Meaning In An Old Adventure…
Wandering through the PS2 version’s barren landscapes would create a masterful sense of dread. The addition of dynamic lighting, reactive foliage and other modern enhancements for PS4 give Shadow of the Colossus’ already impressive world a new lease of life. In the original, I’d often find myself hastily galloping toward my next prey. I rarely paid attention to the world housing them. During my 40 minutes with developer Bluepoint’s remake, however, curiosity got the better of me. I regularly stopped to inspect the game’s many intriguing and highly detailed environments.
Despite knowing that the world was largely empty, I couldn’t help but explore more of The Forbidden Land. This was thanks to the added care and detail put into each part of the environment. Yet, it’s not just the stunning new coat of paint that makes playing Shadow Of The Colossus on PS4 feel like a fresh experience. Bluepoint has given the game’s fiddly controls a much-needed overhaul. This makes climbing up giant behemoths a less rage-inducing experience. Thoughtfully, the team has also left the game’s original control scheme as an option. This allows you to get just as frustrated as you did back in 2005.
…But Still a Classic
Still, despite these control tweaks, fans will be pleased to hear that playing Shadow Of The Colossus still feels intentionally cumbersome. While navigating tricky jumps and climbing Colossi is infinitely easier now than it was on PS2 and PS3, it’s still very much a nerve-wracking and fiddly experience. Part of the brilliance of the original was that players felt like taking down these majestic monsters was a serious undertaking. You felt suitably clumsy and inadequate while trying to do so.
Many gamers were a bit underwhelmed to hear that Fumito Ueda’s acclaimed classic is getting a third release. Yet, despite the experience being largely old hat, this painstakingly crafted remake breathes new life into it. Now, let’s just hope that 4K TVs significantly drop in price before its rapidly approaching February release date.