Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection PS3 Review
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Team Ico/Bluepoint Games
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: Sept. 27, 2011
Rated: T – Teen
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are quite simply two of the greatest PlayStation 2 games ever. The 2001 and 2005 releases more than stand the test of time. They manage to outdo many of the games that are influenced by them. They are as minimal and complex as any games that have been released before, since, and after them. The fact that they got an HD makeover from Bluepoint Games on the PlayStation 3 is icing on the cake as both games look superb with their remastered textures and higher resolution definition. Oh, did I mention that I’ve never played either game? I can now check them off of my bucket list.
Both of these games were born of the most simple of concepts. Fumito Ueda and Team Ico strove to create unique, remarkable games that redefined what adventure games should be. Ico’s premise is as simple as “a boy meets a girl.” This boy must escape an abandoned castle with said girl after being stranded there because he is different. Shadow of the Colossus tackles some more profound themes, such as being careful for what you wish for and doing everything in your power to save the one you love. What Team Ico manages to do with these games is transform them into immersive adventures by boiling the stories and gameplay down into something so incredibly simple and yet, so complex.
Their stories are played out in the occasional cutscenes, but most of it is left to your imagination as you are simply dropped into their respective stories. Where do the titular character Ico or Wander and Agro from Shadow of the Colossus come from? Where will they go when their adventures are over? Ico and Yorda have formed a bond out of survival. Wander must complete a mission that you know can’t be good from the start. Though neither game has anything to do with each other directly, there are some connections that the player can make after completing both games. That’s part of the charm of these games. They feel related, yet feel so different.
In order to escape the castle, Yorda needs Ico and he must do everything he can to protect her and solve puzzles in order to allow her to continue on with you. The simplicity is a refreshing take, even in this generation of gaming. Jump, climb, shimmy, and swing a stick as a weapon. You don’t have life bars or a flashing screen to tell you that you are in danger of dying. Wander and his trusty steed Agro have sought the help of some entity named Dormin to resurrect a girl named Mono. For that to happen, Wander must kill sixteen colossi inhabiting a forbidden land. Rather than pit you versus hordes of enemies running from level to level, you are given the location of a colossus. You make your way to that location and fight one enemy, the colossus. The trick is solving the puzzles to kill it. How do you fight something that is as tall as a mountain or flies high above you with nothing more than a sword, a bow, and a limited amount of stamina that decreases as they try to fling you off them as you hold on for dear life?
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus provide breathtaking views of fantastical lands and again, provide stark contrast to each other. Ico’s adventure takes place in a massive abandoned castle. It’s when you get outside of the castle into the open air that you realize the true epic scope of the setting. In fact, the final area of the game will blow you away. Shadow of the Colossus on the other hand wastes no time in letting you know how insignificant you are in its world. That world spans everything from deserts to forests to a canyon with a river flowing far below you. Aside from the settings, one of the most interesting aspects of both of these games is the musical scores or lack thereof. Shadow of the Colossus has a remarkable soundtrack that gets the blood flowing when fighting colossi and leaves you with a little pang of guilt with each one that dies. Ico relies on nothing more than the sounds you and Yorda make as you traverse the castle. Footsteps on stone, Ico calling out to Yorda, her refusals to go in a direction that she can’t are all you have to go on. It’s a little strange, but it definitely lends to the claustrophobic idea of being trapped.
They aren’t quite without their quirks. Yorda can be a pain while waiting for her to come to you or flat out refusing to do what you want her to do. Agro seems to channel Yorda’s attitude with sometimes frustrating controls, but this is apparently a part of the game design. I could’ve lived without it.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are classic shining examples of what makes a game transcend its medium. It was a wise choice upgrading Team Ico’s classics. They are always in the argument that video games are art. Emotion is every part of these two games’ experience as the story, graphics, and gameplay. You could probably beat both games in about 10 to 12 hours combined. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play them over again with unlockables and trophies as incentives. If you’ve never experienced these games, I can’t recommend them enough. Part of me wishes I had played them on PlayStation 2. Part of me is glad I got to play them in this remastered form, making me appreciate them even more.
+ The gameplay holds up after all these years
+ The epic scope presented in minimalistic fashion
+ The greatest sense of accomplishment in defeating each Colossi
- The game doesn’t default to updated settings
- Simplistic nature of gameplay may turn off some gamers
- Yorda’s and Agro’s “independence”