Shadow of the Colossus is coming out once again on a PlayStation console. This time for the PlayStation 4 with completely remade assets. The total graphical overhaul breathes new life into the game, but you'll find that in many ways it's still very much the same game you remember playing before.
Yesterday, following the new trailer from Sony's Paris Games Week conference, I got a chance to check out Shadow of the Colossus running on the PlayStation 4 Pro. While Bluepoint Games (who developed the HD version of the game for the PS3) is once again taking the reigns on the development for the PS4 version, it's not just a simple remaster this time around.
Remaking the assets for the PS4 is a bold move that pays off incredibly here. In my memories, the yellow-green color palette iconic to Shadow of the Colossus blurred to a point where I only really remembered standout scenes with specific clarity. On the PS4 however, the whole game takes on a new meaning and certain scenes from the new demo that I completely forgot about from the original game, roared back with new clarity. There's a vividness to the whole thing that the original, and even the PS3 remaster, lacked.
I expect that if you've played Shadow of the Colossus once or twice before, the PS4 version will still surprise you. If this version is going to be your first time playing Shadow of the Colossus, it could very well be the definitive version.
One moment in particular was a scene where I was taking my horse down a forested path on the way to the 13th Colossus. I had forgotten nearly everything about this scene, but it was this (and not encountering a remastered colossus) that took my breath away.
However, this forest scene was also a reminder of what stayed the same with this remake. Namely the controls, which if you remember weren't the most elegant or easy to play. There were points where navigating through this dense forest on my horse became a challenge in and of itself thanks to the floaty feel of the controllers, inherent to Team Ico games.
A Bluepoint producer told me at the event that the controls have been tweaked a bit for the remake, but if they were changed for the demo I honestly couldn't tell. In fact, some parts of the controls were somehow worse than I remember.
A fight against the first Colossus felt like the camera was actively fighting against me while I was trying to position myself and climb up the titan's back so that I could slay it. It took some time for me to realize that not touching the camera stick at all was the best way to go about this challenge. Leaving the camera alone made it so the camera positioned itself in some cinematic angle that wasn't necessarily the best for playing a game; but made sure the camera wasn't also spinning wildly out of control during the boss fight either.
The fact that Shadow of the Colossus is a straight-up remake instead of a remaster is important. A new visual coat is one thing, but the fact that everything here was remade for the PS4 practically makes it look and feel like a new game.
Then you'll start playing and you'll immediately remember why Shadow of the Colossus—and plenty of other Ico games—have the famous caveat: It's a great game, if you can get past the controls.