Shadow of the Colossus is one of my top games of all time. It’s my “desert island game.” I’ve probably completed it close to 20 times and closely examined its art over the decade plus since its original release. So of course I had the special edition of the PlayStation 4 remake pre-ordered, but I was also one of the people more anxious about how faithful a different art and development team would be to the original 2005 PlayStation 2 version.
Many video games get remakes because of the inherently technical nature of the medium and industry. Most people think that with most games simply tossing in more silicon, adding finer details, and implementing more realistic lighting will always improve the experience. Colossus in particular is known as a game that was let down by the hardware of its time. The PS2 version runs sluggishly, and it fakes a lot of visual effects that aren’t suppose do be possible on the PS2. Arguably it’s exactly the kind of game that needs a remake.
Colossus however is also mostly known for its art direction and atmosphere. It was distinct in 2005 and remains distinct today. It’s a very delicate thing that wouldn’t be easy for an entirely different group of people to maintain while adding details with a system two hardware generations and a decade removed from the original version.
There are even a few articles out bringing up some good points about the act of even trying to add detail to a game like Colossus: One from USGamer alleges that the PS4 version looks too much like other video games now. Another from Eurogamer (same parent company) alleges that adding a bunch of detail turns the PS4 version into an inherently different experience that can’t erase the original.
Before my PS4 copy arrived from Amazon I went back through the PS2 version for the first time in years (on a standard definition CRT in fact). After a single run through the PS4 game, I think I half agree with the aforementioned articles. There is a push and pull between the two versions, but the PS4 version makes some significant achievements even as its own game. Continue reading