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Feature Article

We Played A Half Hour Of Shadow Of The Colossus PS4, And It's Still Wonderful

Shadow of the Colossus has never looked this good, literally.

When Sony first announced a PS4 version of Shadow of the Colossus at E3 2017, it came as a surprise. The game wasn't a re-release of the remaster that developer Bluepoint Games made for PS3. Instead, it was a new version with completely re-worked assets. But is a remake of designer Fumito Ueda's cult classic worth revisiting even after it was already remastered in 2011? After playing a recent demo, I've discovered the answer to be a resounding yes.

The major highlight of the PS4 version is its new visuals. Shadow of the Colossus' world has been given a major facelift and it’s stunning. You need only look at the lush forest in the footage from the Sony's Paris Games Week press conference to see just how much of a step forward this remake is visually from its previous remaster. As someone who has played the original several times throughout the years, exploring the world feels familiar. But with the new assets and graphical touches, it also feels strange and foreign. Added technical enhancements, like reactive foliage, realistic water physics, and dynamic lighting, did not exist in the original or its remaster. Yet their implementation greatly enhances Shadow of Colossus' sense of scale in ways that I had never imagined.

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As a result, the Forbidden Land feels more ominous and otherworldly. I often asked myself the same questions I did when I first charted its biomes 12 years ago: "Who paved these roads? How did these desert ruins collapse?" The higher graphical fidelity facilitates nostalgic musings, but it also inspires a desire to explore the world; a feeling I rarely had playing the original. Shadow of the Colossus was widely criticized over the years for how little there was to do in its world. While this criticism may remain true for the PS4 remake, the new level of beauty present in its visuals compels me to explore the Forbidden Land and make meaning of its secrets--even if I know there’s nothing out there to find but white-tailed lizards.

While the upgraded presentation of the PS4 version is impressive, it very much plays identically to the original--for better or worse. I managed to kill two major colossi, and in that brief time, it was apparent that many of original game's problems remain: Your horse Agro is a pain to control (even with the updated control scheme) and the camera is oftentimes unwieldy during inopportune moments. But in the face of these familiar issues, it's difficult not to be impressed by the scope of the game's colossus encounters, especially with the improved visuals and performance. My battle against the airborne Phalanx Colossus was riveting. The familiar tactic of jumping off Agro and onto its wings is still as tense and demanding, and the finality of taking it down yields the same rewarding sensation. The game seems to maintain the excitement of its set piece moments, even if it's at times couched in PS2-era deficiencies.

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Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 stands in an odd middle ground between remaster and remake. The game plays exactly as you remember it, but its visuals are nearly up to par with some of this console generation's latest games. From the two colossi I defeated, I'm eager to play this new version: the game's renewed beauty makes it instantly compelling to explore and the remembrances I have for it as I fell colossi pull me in even more.

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Matt Espineli

Matt Espineli is an Editor at GameSpot. He loves MGS, film noir, and westerns, but he very much loves YOU too.
Shadow of the Colossus

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Avatar image for Barighm

That's great, but I'd like there to be something more than just updated graphics. Surely they could add some more lore to the world or perhaps add the special equipment in treasure chests hidden throughout the game? And you can take those items into the time attack challenges, but not for the hard versions. That seems like a cool way to reward exploration without really changing anything.

Obviously I'd love to see some new colossi, but oh well.

Avatar image for DarkReign2022

@Barighm: I tend to agree. I would love to see the original writers come in and add more lore to the world. Bring in elements of Ico and Last Guardian and let us explore. Let us discover ruins and solve some easy to moderately challenging puzzles. Don't even add combat beyond the original 16 enemies, but some changes to the way your character interacts with the world would be a welcome addition. It's not a game that lends itself to having a sequel, but there's no reason why they couldn't update the game in a way that makes it feel like a continuation fo the original rather than being just a blatant remaster.

Avatar image for silv3rst0rm

Am I the only one not impressed and think it looks pretty much the same as the PS3 Remastered version?

I mean, I played thru this game 3 times already and still think it's AWESOME.
But, I don't see much enhancement in this video compared to the PS3 remaster.

It must be the bad video quality cause Screenshots looks gorgeous compared to what the video shows...

Avatar image for silv3rst0rm

Nvm, got my own answer!
The video at the top of this news is sh*t!

Looking at this one I mentionned makes me wanna play it AGAIN!


Avatar image for altairdarius

Super looking fw to play this since I haven't played the first version, these is a great opportunity.

Avatar image for xrizz1066

How long as this game taken??? think it must have the award for logest developemnt surely lol.

Still from what I've heard a beautiful game, not my cup of tea but hey horses for courses.

Avatar image for tenaka30

@xrizz1066: It was announced this year. Not sure how long they have been working on it but I would wager it's a far cry from the longest development time ever.......

Avatar image for xrizz1066

@tenaka30 Really I thought this had been in the works for ages, in fact it only just made it onto PS3 when the PS4 came out and that it took 5+ years to get there.

Hmmm wonder what does have longest devlopment???

Yeah should have guess Duke Nukem LOL


Avatar image for bryanweary

@xrizz1066: The PS3 version was a re-master of the PS2 version. The PS4 version is actually a remake.

Avatar image for xrizz1066

@bryanwearyGotacha, I knew I'd been reading about the development of this game for what seemed like forever, cheers for clearing up.:

Avatar image for itchyflop

didn't play this in its entirety and regretted that, definitely buy this emotional trip of an outstanding game play through this time.

Avatar image for registeredpunk

Hmm.. they still didn't fix that gigantic horse.

Avatar image for runstalker

At least we have the best remake/remaster studio on the planet handling this new version. Many Sony Stallions will be happy to replay a vintage experience again.

Avatar image for mgespin

@7tizz: The controls were adjusted to feel more modern i.e. X button is jump, firing your bow is mapped to the shoulder buttons, circle button by itself is the dodge roll, etc. In terms of overall feel, I'd say the controls definitely feel better than The Last Guardian.

But what I meant in my preview above is that Agro can still be hard to control, as there's nothing different here when it comes to handling her. You still need to spur her to accelerate, and making her turn on a dime is as tough as you remember it being.

For the camera, it remains an issue not because of the controls you use to maneuver it, but because the camera's movement itself feels somewhat floaty and can be tough to manage during hectic moments. It tends to want to lock behind you when you're moving forward. I take it that the dev was limited in how much they could alter the original game, so there's only so much that can be done there. Don't get me wrong, it didn't feel horrible. It all depends on your patience when handling this sort of thing.

Overall, if you've had problem with the controls in the past, there are some measures taken in the PS4 version that make it feel better. But if the camera was a major concern for you, then know you'll still have to wrestle with it from time to time.

Avatar image for khanwashere

Games like this make me worry the control scheme is as bad as the last guardian.