The Shadow of the Colossus remake prioritizes player comfort and personal aesthetic preferences over loyalty to the original game — and it’s better because of it. Players of the PlayStation 2 original can recreate that experience with this PlayStation 4 update, while new players, or those who aren’t precious about the past, can go take Shadow of the Colossus in a completely different direction.
On PlayStation 4, the game is filled with options to change its look — often in dramatic ways. You can tell the game to stick to 60 fps if you’d like to see how it feels when everything flows ... while also dealing with a graphical downgrade. Or you can play in 4K resolution, as long as you don’t mind a slower frame rate reminiscent of the original release.
The visuals options don’t stop there, however. There is a variety of filters that change the color palette of the game completely, like an old-timey film option. If you want it to be night? You can make it night, whenever you’d like. HDR can be switched on or off. Hints can be displayed, or not. You can remove the HUD completely, if you’d like. It’s all up to you.
There’s no wrong option
It’s ridiculous to think that we now have three versions of Shadow of the Colossus, with an equally ridiculous number of ways to experience it across those three releases. The PlayStation 3 version even has a 3D option for the five people out there who want to play the game in 3D. (I have played it in 3D and rather enjoyed it. I’m also a weirdo.)
There is some notion about a single, ideal experience of other art forms, from film to music. Film directors are finicky about aspect ratios and color grading. Motion smoothing is a much-hated feature on modern televisions, and just about everyone involved in movies and TV would rather you turn it off. Some fans are willing to drive hours to see Dunkirk in 70mm, as director Christopher Nolan intended.
But the new Shadow of the Colossus challenges the idea that there’s one correct way to experience something. The game can look however you’d like it to look, with even more options available to owners of PS4 Pros and 4K TVs. Playing in performance mode doesn’t just make the game look a little smoother; it also changes how it feels as you experience it with the controller.
I can see the development team or players growing strong feelings about the “right” way to play the game. I’m sure there will be a large group of people who feel protective of the original Shadow of the Colossus when checking out the revamped PS4 version, just as some go to great lengths to revisit Star Wars before Lucas “ruined” the films with clumsy CGI shots.
This latest version of Shadow of the Colossus takes the original’s resilient, beloved core, and then lets you experience it however you’d like. Not many developers give players this much choice to how they play a re-release. But with so many versions of Shadow of the Colossus out there now, it feels refreshing to make your experience with the remake as similar or dissimilar to the original as you want.