Anyone who has read any of my previous NERDTREK posts should know one thing by now, I HATE REBOOTS! Of course, for every rule, there is an exception. Thus, my love of the recently re-released Ico/Shadowof the Colossus package.
I’m not sure whether or not I would actually call this a reboot, moreover a hi-def makeover of two epic and underrated games from team Ico. Unlike a lot of other games that get pushed onto consumers over and over again, like Mario Galaxy Seventeen blah blah blah, these two games needed to be re-released, so younger gamers can experience the beauty and wonder they provide. And, what better way to play them than the two games getting redone to look as beautiful as they play?
Originally a Playstation 2 launch title, Ico tells the story of the title character, a young boy who, because of a birth defect (horns protruding from his head), is brought to a castle to die by villagers. Instead of dying a slow death in his tomb, the boy escapes from his coffin and attempts to make his way out of the castle to freedom. Working his way through the castle, he comes across a trapped woman named Yorda. He frees her from her cage, and they try to escape the castle together. There’s one problem, however. The castle is cursed and filled with “shadow people”. These creatures are tasked with keeping Yorda captive for their Demon King. And, try they will, if Ico leaves Yorda by herself for too long, the shadow people will come and try to take her back to her cage. Ico’s only weapon is a stick he found. He uses that to beat the shadow people back from Yorda. The game was groundbreaking in its storytelling abilities as well as the gameplay itself. Instead of following the standard formula of push block here to trigger this door, or the standard move block puzzles, you actually solved in-game puzzles the way you might in real life. The game itself was rather short, giving maybe 8-10 hours of gameplay, but the impact it made is undeniable.
The second game in the package is Shadow of the Colossus. This is truly a masterpiece. I consider this game to be one of the best games that I have ever played. To me,Shadow of the Colossus was the first game ever to get truly epic storytelling right. Visually stunning (for the Playstation 2) and grandiose in presentation, this is a game that can elicit real emotional responses from the player. It’s not the standard mad/glad garbage that you typically get from games. There’s actual sadness, sympathy, sorrow and grief and even questioning whether or not what you are doing is the right thing to do. There are no bullshit “moral choices” to be had here. It’s a man on a mission to bring his dead love back to life. You have to bring her to a sacred temple in hopes that the gods inside will grant her life again. One catch, you have to find the Colossi roaming the lands, and defeat them before the gods will grant that wish.
Alone, you embark on journey after journey to find the Colossi. Once found, you have to climb the Colossi to get to the beasts’ weak spots, where you repeatedly drive your sword into them until they collapse and die. At first, killing the Colossi is thrilling. You have a limited amount of grip strength, and the truly massive creatures are aware of you and try to shake you off, which makes the scaling even more difficult. After you destroy the beast black tentacles impale you, and you fall to the ground waking up at the temple. The twist here is two-fold. One, you realize that the Colossi aren’t doing anything other than existing in this world. Two, killing the Colossi is also killing you. Now, the problem is whether or not you continue the game? To save your love, you must destroy innocent creatures, creatures that wail in agony as you kill them. Also, each death brings you that much closer to death yourself. Do you love her enough to destroy innocence and yourself? It’s an emotional roller coaster, to say the least. I was so happy when I learned that Team Ico was re-releasing these games for the Playstation 3. Hopefully, a whole new generation of gamers will appreciate the amazing stories and epic sets that comprise these two games. I could, literally, go on for hours talking or writing about these games. Please, please go out, and buy this set. These games deserve to be played and enjoyed. Seriously, for anyone that has ever read any of my posts, you would know that I rarely, if ever, heap this much praise on any game. And, when have I ever not had at least SOME criticism for a game? Buy it, play it, love it, and tell me what you think about it!