When Shadow Of The Colossus was first released back in 2005, it was hailed by critics and players alike as a masterpiece, and cited as an argument for both taking videogames as a legitimate artform, and the impact that storytelling has on the medium.
Thirteen years later, every single one of these still holds true and can be just as fiercely argued. Shadow Of The Colossus, from the very beginning, offers up a truly unique experience unlike any other game you'll have played before - other than maybe the original 2005 version. Like the original, the game is sparsely populated and features no exploration, no NPCs, nothing except the colossi you'll have to defeat in order to revive Mono, a young girl who has travelled with the protagonist to a forbidden land.
The game doesn't explain where you are, when you are, why you're there beyond the initial setup, and that ultimately doesn't matter. The game is about the feel, the texture and the sheer expansiveness of it all. Shadow of the Colossus' sense of scale in the original is matched here and rendered in incredible detail with some of the most beautiful lighting and texture work you're likely to see. The skies over the temple where the game begins feels real and alive, and the animation of both Wander - your character - and the colossi you fight is rendered in such a way that makes it feel like a real cinematic experience.
The fact that the game is so cleanly hewn of extraneous features - there's no multiplayer, there's no tutorial beyond the guiding voice, the game can be rendered in 60FPS or in cinematic (we played mostly in 60FPS) - can be somewhat frustrating to get used to, but once you find the groove and rhythm of the game, it becomes all the more rewarding and compelling. You figure out how to take down a colossi with a minimal amount of help, and when it does eventually tumble, the victory feels hard-earned. How many games nowadays reward players with that kind of experience? A lot of this might just be down to the fact that players nowadays are nowhere near as time-rich as they may have once been. Don't forget that Shadow of the Colossus first arrived at a time before multiplayer was a thing, before the internet and playthroughs, where it was necessary for you to discover it by yourself without the help of others or tutorials to guide you through.
As a remake, Shadow of the Colossus works beautifully by taking every single aspect of the original game and lovingly and carefully updating it to the modern framework of today. New art materials, new controls and the addition of 30FPS and 60FPS resolution are stunningly rendered and the scale of the game feels tangible, but the structure of the game and its essence remains intact and unhindered. It's still very much Shadow Of The Colossus as you remember it, but remastered and remade to a degree that it feels like a completely new game. It's a delicate thing to take something so beloved and make it feel new and at the same time familiar, but the work by Bluepoint Games - who did the excellent HD remakes of Metal Gear Solid - proves that there is a level of care and love that is rarely seen nowadays.
A stunning example of videogames as art, and the benchmark for all future remakes, Shadow Of The Colossus is a masterpiece renewed.
(Played on PlayStation 4 Pro in 60FPS)