Shadow of the Colossus is the first game I would like to talk about.
This game holds a special place in my heart; it may very well be my favorite game. Not necessarily because of game play, or amazing mechanics, but because this game is something that many games are not… an experience.
There is something about Shadow of the Colossus, even people that rush through games will take time to stop and let themselves take it in. Maybe it is because of the grand scale of everything in the world, maybe it’s the extreme isolation the game makes you feel. Isolated but never alone.
Shadow of the Colossus lacks a feeling that many games have, which is a feeling of being alone. Its because of the Uncanny Valley, you look around and can tell that game world is dead, there is nothing else living there besides you. It breaks the all important immersion.
While that is still true with Shadow of the Colossus, the world is almost literally devoid of life, spare the animals going about their business… oh and the aptly named colossi. This isolation helps to immerse you in the game.
You ARE the only living person, present for most (all) of the game.
This is important because you are isolated, yet never alone. Always by your side in your travels is your massive horse ‘Agro’. Despite being 1’s and 0’s, this guy grows on you, and the game uses your attachment to him against you several times. He’s basically your safety blanket.
Scale and Scope
Another significant factor in Shadow of the Colossus is that this game has both scale, and scope. Many games have one, but few have both.
What do I mean by that? In this game you face creatures that tower over you like a man towers over an ant. While you fight these massive creatures, you are also the only person in a massive unforgiving “forbidden land” littered with forgotten ruins and temples of a people who have long since left. Always surrounding you are beautiful landscapes that even back in 2005 were a joy to look at. This is what I mean by scale, the entire world is full of things that make you look up and say “wow”.
As for the scope… what I mean by scope is that by the time you finish the game, you feel like you have accomplished something. Covered some ground, progressed. Things are different now.
“I have killed 16 of these massive creatures, alone.”
Your actions throughout the game have a sense of progression, you are “covering ground” as you kill off each of these massive stone colossi. There is character growth throughout the story as you discover more and more about what exactly it is that you are doing. (Don’t worry I won’t spoil it… much) And by the end of the game, you are a different person. And you as the player can feel the difference.
More on Shadow of the Colossus to come.