Shadow Of the Colossus Retro Review – A Colossal Experience in a Beautiful World

Shadow of the Colossus is hailed as one of the best action-adventure titles of its time. The game was originally released for the PlayStation 2 all the way back in 2005. It was so good in fact, it got a remastered version in 2018 for the PlayStation 4 and was well received by old and new fans alike. Let’s revisit this iconic classic in 2024 and see how well it holds up to its past reputation.

Introduction – A Truly BIG Adventure

Just a “small” example of how immense some of the Colossi are!

The basis of Shadow of the Colossus is simple, go around and slay titanic beasts to bring your girlfriend back. The problem with that is you’re just a little man with a horse, bow, and a sword. Overloading with willpower and what must be the world’s strongest love bond, this little man goes toe to toes with colossal beings rivaling the likes of some iterations of Kaiju (like Kong and Rodan).

It an impressive game both visually and mechanically, and it sits pretty high up on my all-time favorite games list. Replaying it after all these years really made me realize how stunning this masterpiece was, especially after considering how old the original is. Obviously this remastered edition has more modern graphics and some gameplay revamps, but I’m certain I would have enjoy a replay of the PS2 version as well.

Story – Simple But Worth It

Ride your companion Argo across a massive, beautiful landscape.

There truthfully isn’t much to the actual story of Shadow Of The Colossus, but what is provided is amazing. Though there is a strong sense of lore, the actual story itself isn’t too sophisticated. You play as Wander. This young man and his horse, Argo, set out on an epic journey to save the girl while toppling giants. Your noble quest to resurrect the young maiden Mono turns out to be a full on massacre. Dormin tricks Wander into slaying these sixteen innocent beings. The young man meets his unfortunate demise as Dormin takes control of his body, making his quest all for naught.

It is never really made clear what the relationship between Mono and Wander is in the game. The goal is pretty certain though, she’s dead, and Wander wants to bring her back. To do so he enters the Forbidden Lands and sets Mono on an alter in the Shrine of Worship. Upon doing so, Dormin, a being that seems to reside in the Shrine makes a deal with Wander. Defeat the sixteen Colossi of the Forbidden Lands and Mono will be revived.

Wander sets Mono on the alter, hoping to bring her back to life.

Naturally, you head out and start killing off these gigantic beasts. These colossi are calm by nature. Why would that stop you from climbing up their backs and stabbing them a few times? Some fly, some swim, and some even tunnel in the earth. No matter how awe-inspiring they may be, it is still your goal to bring ’em down.

You do this sixteen times. A strange, dark energy attacks you after each Colossus is slain. That dark energy eventually takes over Wander’s body and consumes him, ending his adventure in a rather dramatic way. There is not much more to the story than that. Somehow they made it work, and very well might I add.

Gameplay – Hang On For The Ride

Beauty and fear meet in this epic adventure title!

One of the best things about Shadow of the Colossus is that you only have to use a couple of buttons the whole time you play. That might sound boring at first, but when your objective is to spend a lot of time climbing massive monsters, you become thankful for the ease of control. On harder difficulties, the game is a ruthless challenge of endurance and patience. At times it can be frustrating, but that’s what makes some games fun, right?

The Colossi all come equipped with a unique trait and hidden weak points that you must target to bring it down. Some are relatively easy to spot, but not necessarily easy to get to. The adrenaline-spiking challenge of climbing a beast over ten times your size is coupled with an immanent sense of fear. Your stamina bar is constantly drained. The timing between colossal movements is slim. One small tap from a massive club can deliver instant death. Its all truly so exhilarating.

Graphics and Sound – A Breathtaking Spectacle

Use the light to find the location of the next Colossus.

Whether it be the original or remastered version of Shadow of the Colossus, the graphics are outstanding. Ever since its initial release this game has been praised for its breathtaking visuals. This still holds true to this day. Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most beautiful games ever. It is a true spectacle to explore the vast and beautiful world.

From the design of the Colossi, to the sprawling fields of the Forbidden Lands, there is no shortage of beauty in this game. The attention to detail in the design of each monstrous Colossus is mind-blowing. Each Colossus is unique and portraits a true representation of power and beauty. These creatures, resembling the combination of animals and man-made constructs, are both gorgeous and terrifying. Making for a truly remarkable experience.

The environment is admittedly mostly empty. That however does not take from how epic it is to explore this huge and open world. The few buildings and ruins you can explore are intricately designed. The environments seamlessly shift from mountain to forest, and prairie to desert. The small creatures and attention to detail scattered throughout the map add elements of fun and mystery. There is no lack of beauty in Shadow of the Colossus, and I don’t think anyone would argue that.

Replay Value – Fun To Revisit Every Couple Of Years

Fight massive Colossi underwater, in the air, and even underground!

The first thing to mention here is there is really not much more to do in Shadow of the Colossus other than take down the Colossi. There are a few side things to do here and there for trophies but overall the game is cut and dry. I personally enjoy the game as an art form, and therefore, find joy in revisiting the game every so often to bask in its beauty. The replay value is a solid middle of the road, not so much for content, but more-so on the fact that it is nostalgic and simply gorgeous.

For the average gamer, Shadow of the Colossus is more of a play once and forget about it game. Gamers who appreciate a vast world, unique creatures, and a real challenge might find it more worthwile to revisit. Platinum hunters will also have a field day trying to discover the many secrets of the Forbidden Lands. All-in-all, Shadow of the Colossus is worth a rerun on occasion, at least for me.

Conclusion – An Honorable Mention Of The PS2 Era

The sprawling open-world is a spectacle to behold!

While Shadow of the Colossus may be a forgotten memory to some, it lives on in the hearts of many fans even to this day. The remaking and initial success of this legendary title proves there is still a following to the game. I for one will always hold a special place for this title. It was one of the first titles to really get me to enjoy a game more for its art than anything. My overall rating of Shadow of the Colossus is an 8 out of 10. It loses points for lack of content and for having an overall short story. It makes up for those lacks with exceptional gameplay and visual content.

If you have never experienced this gem I highly recommend playing it. Its a one of a kind game, with awesome challenges set in one of the most beautiful open worlds I have ever explored. You can get a digital copy of the 2018 remake for $20 in the PlayStation Store, and it is more than worth the asking price. (It is also frequently on sale during the holidays and other sale events!)

Combat unique creatures of epic proportions!

Shadow of the Colossus is a breathtaking action-adventure game published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Originally released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2, it was also remade and released again for the PlayStation 4 in 2018.


  • Outstanding Graphics
  • Breathtaking World
  • Mind-blowing Colossi
  • Epic Adventure


  • Not-so Detailed Story
  • Lack Of Post Game Content

Shadow of the Colossus


This epic title makes up for its lack of story and content with breathtaking visuals and massive creatures that inspire both fear and amazement!

Zachary M. Cain
PlayStation 4 version reviewed.