Shadow of the Colossus is the greatest game ever made. I’ve explained numerous times as to why I believe that and yet here I am. Game critique corner. I’ve been chewing my way through the recent Team ICO Collection, finishing up Ico, and now moving into the heartland of Colossus. I don’t know what to say. The collection has made the greatest game of all time that bit greater, tipping it over into absolute epitome of perfection that this industry has to offer. It’s transformed my life, but I will not cry again. Yes. For the relationship I had with Agro can never, ever be replicated; even within Shadow itself.
It sounds silly to say, but I hope you know where I’m coming from, video-games are about interactive experiences. Those experience us a lifetime, and it’s not always best to repeat them. This doesn’t not make Shadow any less unique but rather the greatest kind of unique: it can never be played again in the same way. I will never be affected by Shadow in the same way for as long and as hard as I play it, and for that, it truly is the greatest video-game experience I have ever endured. Absolute ecstatic beauty with strokes of mechanics and interaction peppered by level design and themes, ideas and all manner of things to tie it together.
Shadow of the Colossus is one game I simply cannot bring myself to bring into game critique corner. Yet, I will. If I love it this much then I should be able to celebrate its flaws and thus treasure it ever more. Shadow of the Colossus does have flaws, but I’m not… sure on them. The controls are arguably silly but I believe in this article that it’s a truly physical representation of what occurs on screen. There’s some visual issues, but they’ve all been tidied up with the HD Collection. I’m trying to think of mistakes, of pacing issues or something, and none of it is coming to mind.
Life is about mistakes because those mistakes mean that we learn. Shadow of the Colossus is a video-game about the greatest human tragedy of all; the role reversal. David and Goliath, the human and non-human, Wander and the Colossus. It’s the greatest interactive experience I’ve ever had and I doubt I can so simply pick flaws and follies out of it at whim. I’d probably need to investigate and replay the game but… I can’t go back in time. My experience with Colossus, the one that points it as the ‘greatest game ever made’, the one I’ve written about for so long. That ended nearly six years ago.
I don’t have a TARDIS, I wish I did, but it would be hard for me to critique that experience and I could easily critique Shadow as a product, as a video-game. The problem is that, while I could do that, it would be pointless. What I’m arguing here is that video-games are the most unique form of artistic expression in the history of the human race. Experiences we all have with these interactive media bits can transform us, enrich us and make us cry. Perhaps Shadow of the Colossus being the epitome of interaction means I simply can’t critique it because it’s completely unique of an experience to me.
All great video-games do this, in some way, they contain such mass amounts of interaction that the non-interactive parts (the cutscenes, which mirror the lack of control that Wander actually has and thus the player) end up having diverse effects. What I could cry at, you could laugh at. See what I mean? It’s similar to my story of Boone, that story is undoubtedly only going to occur once to one human being and it just so happened to be me. I can’t compare that, I can’t critique but I can write about it. I can say “Look! Look how amazing emergent storytelling is.” all while you play your Black Ops and Red Dead Redemptions other cinematic bollocks.
I don’t hate linear video-games, fuck no, Half-Life 2 is one of the greatest video-games ever made. Portal 2 is in there as well. What I find differently is how I can talk about all manner of emergent gameplay and unique qualities that games like Shadow possess but with linear games, I can easily compare. It’s the strength and downfall of non-linear games, that it can’t be properly identified and categorized and recognized and… celebrated as easily. Individual’s story, the emergent storytelling, is exclusive to only those who play it. We can certainly read other stories and emotional synchronize with them, but we can never live them.
Maybe I’ve made sense, maybe I’ve been ridiculously pretentious (as usual) but I can’t exactly critique Shadow in the same old fashioned way. I can try, but I don’t think I could do it justice. So many other people identify with my experience, but I doubt any of them had lived through the same effects, and that is the beauty of video-games. Interaction and exclusivity.