Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection Review
The simple joy of holding hands with a mysterious girl and running through a dark and windy castle. The quiet reminiscing of killing a giant while silently riding your faithful horse over a vast expanse in a long forgotten land. These are the kind of experiences that you will remember after playing through these two fantastic games. They are growing in age but that has hardly affected them at all. For two of the most highly regarded games of last generation, these games hold up fantastically amidst the mass of innovation we face in the industry today.
Starting off with Ico it’s hard to give a real description of what makes this game fun. It is different from nearly any other gaming experience you will play but is no less rewarding than a large RPG. You take on the role of a boy deemed cursed by his village because of the horns on his head that have been there since birth. After Ico has been placed in a castle to die as a sacrifice he accidentally becomes freed and finds a mysterious girl in a cage. It is up to Ico and the mysterious Yorda to find their way out of the castle all while being chased by shadow creatures. The story itself isn’t as important in this game as what you make of the story. It is up to you to decide really what is happening and what Yorda is saying to you.
The gameplay is a mix of basic combat mixed with puzzle solving. It all works fairly well but these areas do feel fairly archaic by today’s standards. The lack of a button to block with and the lack of a checkpoint system can really cause for some unpleasant moments but aren’t nearly enough to smear the overall experience that this game provides. The graphics are better due to the HD treatment and now the characters and environments really pop. Music is minimal in this game but that is how it should be. This is a quiet game and you will need it to be so you can think through the puzzles.
The added content in this game is just fantastic. Compared to what was originally included in the American release it can become an entirely new experience. There are new weapons, a co-op mode available as well as translated dialogue for Yorda so that you can finally understand what she is saying to you throughout the game. These things are available on your second playthrough and really up the replayability of the game.
Moving from Ico to Shadow of the Colossus was a much easier transition for me. The game was made much later in the Playstation 2’s life-cycle which means the controls are much more finely honed. In Shadow of the Colossus you play as a man named Wander who goes into a forbidden land to resurrect the life of his lost love. With the help of his horse Agro he must fell sixteen giant Colossi so that his love can be brought back. This game can really play on your emotions and really make you question your humanity. As Wander, it is your mission to take down these Colossi but many of them won’t even look your way until you confront them first. Near the end of the game you start wondering if what you are doing is right and if killing these beautiful creatures is worth it. This is why Shadow of the Colossus is hailed as a frontrunner of a video game being art.
The gameplay in Shadow of the Colossus is a mix of exploration and amazing boss battles. Fighting these sixteen giant enemies is what the entire game consists of and the Colossi are fantastically detailed thanks to the HD treatment. This game definitely handles better and is less tough to get back into than Ico is now. Riding on your horse Agro across the land is fantastic and still one of the better instances of horse control in a game today. Music in this game is minimal just as it was in Ico but the musical score that plays when you enter battle with a Colossus is just fantastic. The game is luckily much smoother than it was originally thanks to the added power of the PS3 and its Blu-Ray disc. Everything in the HD rerelease of Shadow of the Colossus has been honed to a fine point.
Unfortunately for Shadow of the Colossus there wasn’t any real added content for it in this HD collection. Fortunately for Shadow of the Colossus though, it is a complete game all on its own. There is a time-attack mode to play once you complete the game and as rewards for beating the Colossi you acquire items that can drastically change how you do battle such as arrows that explode and a parachute for when you fall. Shadow of the Colossus is definitely a complete experience and the lack of any real added content is barely a complaint.
So when it comes to these two classic games, purchasing the HD collection is a no brainer. With more content for Ico, better graphics for both of the games, and behind the scenes features that show the making of the games this is the definitive version to own of both. What will be interesting to see is how these games age even farther in the future. With Shadow hailed as art in video game form, will people form “nostalgia vision” so to speak and not be able to judge it for what it is? Regardless of how things will look in the future, these two games are fantastic in this collection and it should be a definite buy for anyone looking for a great pair of games at a low price.