Shadow of the Colossus
October 27, 2005
December 15, 2005
, February 15, 2006
February 16, 2006
February 17, 2006
Shadow of the Colossus, released in Japan as Wander and the Colossus (ワンダと巨像 Wanda to Kyozō) is Team Ico’s 2nd game. It was very first released in October two thousand five in North America and Japan, then in Europe and Australia in February 2006.
Tho’ the game shares many stylistic, aesthetic, and atmospheric elements with Ico, Shadow of the Colossus’s core gameplay is fairly different. The game concentrates on a youthful man, known only to us as Wander (or “the Wanderer”), who is tasked with finding and killing sixteen colossi that reside in a desolate expanse of land, in the hopes of resurrecting a sacrificed damsel named Mono.
Shadow of the Colossus loved significantly more coverage by the media than Ico did, due in large part to an extensive viral marketing campaign that helped spread the game’s unique concept and style around the gaming community by word of mouth. The game sold well, eventually making the “Greatest Hits” lineup of PlayStation two games in the year following its release, and has received numerous awards for its gameplay, soundtrack, art direction, animation, and overall quality.
The game was re-released alongside ICO for the PlayStation three on twenty seven September two thousand eleven in NTSC regions as The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection.
One cloudy night, a lone hawk flies by two longtime companions – Wander and his pony, Agro – navigating an unforgiving cliffside path on the edge of a canyon. The two have been traveling for a long time on this offbeat path, through murky forests and moist grasslands alike.
They arrive at last at their destination: a tall stone gate with a narrow passage. On the other side lies an enormous bridge of near-otherworldly construction. The bridge spans over the Barred Grounds, a dramatic landscape of plains and canyons with enclosed and cut-off environments ranging from arid deserts to clefts with tall geysers to dark forests and murky crevasses.
The bridge ultimately comes to an end at the Shrine of Adore, a gigantic structure in the middle of the Grounds. Wander and Agro make their way to the ground floor and the temple’s main hall, which is lined with sixteen stone idols. At the end of the empty hall is an altar. Here it is shown that Wander is carrying something with him – a assets packaged in a cloth sheet. He places the assets on the altar and liquidates the sheet, exposing Mono – a youthful damsel clothed in a white dress – underneath.
The game abruptly cuts to a picture of an owl mask amidst a cloudy sky. From here, Lord Emon, a spiritual leader in Wander’s society, speaks an esoteric monologue:
They are memories substituted by ens and naught and etched into stone.
Blood, youthfull sprouts, sky – and the one with the capability to control beings created from light.
In that world, it is said that if one should wish it, one can bring back the souls of the dead.
But to trespass upon that land is stringently prohibited.
Agro is all of a sudden frightened by a noise from behind the trio. Several shadowy apparitions are emerging from the temple floor. Wander sees this and draws a mysterious sword from its envelope, pointing it towards the shadows. The blade emits an otherworldly energy and the creatures instantaneously dissolve into lean air. Instantly, a flourishing pair of voices pack the halls from a excellent aperture above, astonished that Wander possesses the “Ancient Sword”. Wander correctly identifies the voices as belonging to Dormin, and asks that Mono be revived. Primarily, Dormin voices an indifference towards the matter, but ultimately cannot hide the interest in the sword Wander carries.
Remarking that it “may not be unlikely” to bring Mono back to life, Dormin makes a deal: demolish the sixteen idols that line the walls of the Shrine, and Mono will be revived. The idols can only be ruined by killing their living incarnations – the sixteen colossi. Dormin warns Wander that in doing this, the price he pays “may be mighty indeed”. Wander’s reply is plain: “It doesn’t matter.” With that, Dormin instructs Wander to be on his way, telling him to raise the Ancient Sword up in a sunlit area. When he does, eight soft slats of light emit from the blade’s peak in the eight compass directions; the planks converge and become brighter when they are pointed in the direction of a colossus.
Quadratus, the 2nd colossus, advances towards Wander. The Shrine of Idolize, and the massive bridge leading to it, can be seen in the background.
The colossi prove to be intimidating creatures, but Wander is able to exploit their behavior, hidden weaknesses, and the environment to bring them down. He kills each one by stabbing glowing sigils in their wool, often located on their goes or chests. After each colossus dies, its corpse is covered in a layer of shadow, and several black tendrils emerge from the colossus’s figure and embed themselves in Wander, rendering him unconscious. He is returned to the Shrine through unknown means, with a number of shadow creatures (equal to the number of defeated colossi) standing around his bod. The camera pans to the colossus’s idol, which implodes in a flash of light. The camera pans back to Wander – the shadow creatures have since vanished – who looks up to the aperture to receive a hint about his next target from Dormin.
As Wander kills more colossi, his physical appearance deteriorates. His skin becomes darker, with dark lines becoming visible on his face and neck later on. His hair, originally an auburn shade of crimson, becomes darker. His clothes become ripped and filthier, blackened in streaks with the blood of the slain giants. His overall health, stamina, and physical strength, however, all increase with the mysterious dark force collecting inwards him. Halfway through his task, he has a vision, of Mono awakening and him being quickly sucked to the other end of the room before he awakens. When only four colossi remain, we learn that Wander is being followed: a cutscene plays displaying several horsemen stopping in a clearing. They are led by Lord Emon, who sees the entrance to the Barred Grounds and the top of the Shrine of Adore on the horizon and tells his studs that they only have a brief distance to go.
With just one colossus left, Dormin tells Wander to make haste, for the arrival of Emon’s company is imminent. Wander goes towards the final colossus, opening a seal in the far southern area of the Grounds with the Sword’s light to build up access to the final area. A fragile bridge spans an enormous canyon inbetween Wander and the lair of the colossus; as he rails across on Agro, the bridge quickly collapses. At the last 2nd, Agro bucks Wander off of her to the other side, sacrificing herself. Wander sobs out and observes vulnerably as Agro plunges into the canyon sea far below. A storm gathers as Wander makes his way up a sheer cliff to the final colossus.
Emon’s company make their way across the big bridge spanning the Grounds in utter gallop. They open the door to the shrine and quickly make their way to the main hall. There is one idol left lining the walls; as they gather around it, Emon witnesses in horror as it implodes, cracking the seal that contained Dormin’s power. They quickly run to the altar, where Emon says a prayer at the side of Mono’s assets, when they hear a sound behind them. Wander has reappeared at the shrine; horns are visibly protruding from his head and his skin has turned a lifeless shade of purple. The Ancient Sword falls to the ground soon after, lodging itself in the ground.
Emon orders his dudes to kill Wander. In the foreground is the stolen sword, the only weapon capable of killing the colossi and freeing Dormin’s essence.
Emon, in angered disbelief, condemns Wander for stealing the sword and using it to kill the colossi. The shaman orders his studs to shoot, noting that Wander has been possessed by the dead and was “only being used” by Dormin. One of Emon’s dudes hits Wander in the gam with a crossbow bolt. Wander doubles over in agony; a shadowy substance pours forward from the wound and commences to cover his gam. Wander despairingly attempts to get up and crawl towards Mono, but Emon orders his dudes to finish him off. One of them walks up to Wander and impales him in the chest with his sword. Wander, however, stands up and leisurely pulls the sword from him as he is fully encased in shadow. Several shadow creatures emerge from the ground and merge themselves in, until the shadow grows to pack the entire hall. Dormin has been resurrected.
Emon’s fellows quickly grab the sword and flee the Shrine to escape from Dormin who has “borrowed” Wander’s bod, leaving behind Mono, who proceeds to lay lifeless on the altar. Dormin is too slow to pursue them, and they escape. Before they leave the Shrine, Emon utters an incantation and furiously throws the sword into the shallow pool of water at the back of the Shrine. The water lights up and becomes a vortex, disrobing Dormin’s essence out of Wander until only his shadow remains. Wander is then sucked into the pool as well.
With Dormin sealed away, the giant bridge starts to collapse. Emon’s boys comeback to their horses and rail across, just scarcely making it to the other side. When they get there, Emon takes one last look at the Shrine, noting that now no one will trespass on the Prohibited Grounds ever again. He hopes that if Wander still lives – if anything in the Prohibited Grounds indeed can – he will one day atone for his crimes.
Back in the Shrine’s hall, Dormin has kept his promise to Wander, as Mono has been given fresh life. She sits up and looks around at her unacquainted surroundings. Shortly after, Agro limps into the Shrine, having miraculously survived the fall. The two walk to the basin at the back of the Shrine. The water is now gone but in its place is a baby boy with horns on its head. Mono picks up the infant while Agro walks back up the spiral to the Shrine’s northern entrance. When the two walk out the back door, they notice the bridge has been demolished. However there is no way out, Agro finds another path leading higher up the Shrine. At the path’s end, they find a garden with several creatures living in it, including some doves, a squirrel and a fawn, as well as fruit trees. The lone hawk flies out of the garden and over the Grounds as night comes once again, a symbol displaying that, even after the release and final sealing of Dormin, after the deaths of all the colossi, and after being sealed off from the rest of the world, life still goes on in the Barred Grounds.