Team Name: Vanishing Act
Team Members: Jeremy Diamond
Game Analyzed: Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is a game released for the Playstation 2 in 2005 by Team Ico, the creators of Ico. On the play matrix, this game falls slightly farther into the Strategy side than the Luck side, and is about evenly balanced between Physical and Mental. There is plenty of coordination required, but you also have to be able to analyze your opponents and figure out the puzzles to defeating them. The game is mostly strategy, but you can get lucky (or unlucky) every once in a while. The game’s gameplay is analogous to real life exploration, mountain climbing, and parkour. The fun of the experience comes from facing a gigantic enemy 20 times your size and taking it down with nothing but your bare hands, a bow, and a pathetic little sword. The difficulty comes from trying to take down an enemy significantly larger than you, and from trying to keep your grip while it tries to shake you off.
Shadow of the Colossus’ interface is interesting in that there is very little HUD. Instead of using an on-screen minimap, you hold your sword up to the sun and the reflection of light shines in the direction you need to go to find your next colossus. Instead of having immediate blatantly out-of-place weak points on the colossus, you need to shine the light off of your sword to illuminate where they are. The interface as a whole, however, is extremely difficult to use. The camera will often position itself at extremely inconvenient angles that make it difficult to control your character or see what you’re doing. The game, like many other 3D games, allows you to reposition the camera with the right control stick, but the camera will just snap back into its previous position the moment you take your thumb off the stick in order to use the other controls. This aspect of the game has caused many to cite the camera as an even bigger enemy than the colossi themselves.
The game’s core mechanic is that the main character, Wanda, has a finite ability to maintain a grip on something. As you try to scale obstacles or colossi themselves, Wanda’s grip rating goes down, and if it reaches zero, he lets go of whatever he’s holding, possibly falling to his death. Unlike most other video games, Shadow of the Colossus has no “mooks” or just general bad guys. The game’s fights consists of the 16 titular colossi. By other games’ standards, this is a game of only 16 “boss fights” and no regular enemies. Wanda isn’t a roving killing machine. He’s just a very determined young man with a sword.
The game’s story is that the main character, Wanda, is in love with a girl, Mono. Mono, however, is dead. He takes Mono to a shrine in the “Forbidden Land” where an entity called Dormin resides. Dormin has the ability to restore life to Mono, but will only do it in exchange for Wanda slaying the 16 colossi that exist in the Forbidden Land. Not much backstory is given outside of what you need to know: There are 16 colossi and you need to kill them.
The platform of the game is the Playstation 2, the genre is Action-Adventure, and the audience is teens and up. Shadow of the Colossus is a very beautiful game and appeals to many who like more artistic games.
If I could change one core aspect of the game, I’d fix the damned camera. The game’s difficulty is largely skewed by the poorly implemented interface instead of the actual gameplay itself.