Praised across three generations of PlayStation hardware, Shadow of the Colossus has carved a special place in all our hearts. From the moment you topple your first giant, you know something’s amiss… that maybe you shouldn’t be slaying these majestic creatures. But that is your mission, and a life hangs in the balance.
Each Colossi is special, with a unique appearance, behavior pattern, and occasionally its own sweeping orchestral score. It’s hard to walk away from these battles and not be moved by the gut-wrenching drama unfolding in each scene. Those of us at PS Blog certainly feel that way, and have shared our most memorable encounters below. Let us know which Colossus is your favorite as well!
For those who haven’t played yet, hey, it’s free with PS Plus until April 6*. Perfect time to download the game and see what you’ve been missing.
Randall Lowe (Producer, Bluepoint Games)
Early in the project, we were still trying to establish exactly what the visual bar was going to be. We’d been bouncing back and forth between ideas when we finally settled on a concept that aligned everyone and all their different ideas for what the game would look like.
We decided we were going to make a hard push — 10 weeks of focused, concentrated effort on one area of the game to establish our minimum bar of visual and gameplay quality that Shadow would have when it shipped.
At the end of this 10-week period, we brought the entire team together in what we internally call our “triangle meetings” — that space in our studio where both wings of the office space come together to form a triangle. On Shadow, it had a lot more open space than it does on our current project, so it made sense to gather the team there. Anyway, we got the team together, and we were going through this “vertical slice” of the game, which culminated in arriving at, and defeating the first colossus. This was the first time the team had seen our version of the whole colossus encounter with dynamic fur, particle effects, lighting, audio… everything all put together. I forget who was playing at the time, but they made Wander whistle at the colossus to get his attention.
I still get chills thinking about the first time we saw the colossus stop and turn to look at us, then lumbering forward with the intent to crush us, his fur shifting side to side as he moved, the ground buckling under his feet. It was an awesome moment! You could feel the pride everyone on the team had for what had been accomplished. The audible “woah” from those present was great! There was no longer any doubt we’d hit our mark, and we had the blueprint for the rest of the game in front of our eyes!
Looking back on it now that a few years have passed, it’s kind of funny how awe-struck we were, because the area around the first colossus improved so much during development — compared to what it was for that vertical slice – but it served its purpose and gave us clarity to remake a game we all loved.
Coincidentally, the whole experience was recreated by everyone watching the PlayStation E3 press conference in 2017 when our trailer played. Hearing the reactions from the audience seeing the first colossus turn to face Wander was one of the coolest moments for our collective careers.
Brett Elston: The Seventh Colossus
By the time I had six Colossi under my belt, it was easy to feel confident and more or less prepared for the next challenge. Bipedal, quadrupedal, taller than anything I’ve ever faced in my life… yep, seen and done all that. But as I set eyes upon the murky abyss that housed this particular creature, that confidence wavered.
Once I saw this Colossus, I knew Wander’s struggles wouldn’t be tied to land alone. How deep is this cavernous lagoon in which it resides? Is there anything else down there? All the experience earned up to this point flew out the window – or if you prefer, plunged into the unknowable depths alongside this memorable Colossus.
While other battles took place in well-ilt, open areas, this foe routinely dives beneath the surface, triggering both a sense of fascination and low-grade thalassophobia. I’ll never forget the feeling of hanging on for dear life as it slithered around the darkness, trying to buck me off and swing back around for an electric-eel-style attack. The whole encounter rattled me back in the PS2 days for sure, and still stood out 13 years later in the remake.
Kristen Zitani: The Tenth Colossus
I’ll be honest, part of why this is my favorite Colossus is because I found it so dang hard! By the time Wander had found the sandy cave entrance to the Tenth Colossus I thought I really had a hang on the game. The earlier puzzles were challenging and the battles bittersweet, but up until that point I was able to handle things in one or two tries. That all changed when I was faced with the Tenth Colossus’ glowing yellow eyes as it chased me beneath the surface.
Staying ahead of the Colossus was hard, timing my arrows even harder. But when I finally put my trust into Agro to run straight without my guidance, giving me the time and leverage to make my shots and take that slithering sentinel down, there was no better feeling.
Sid Shuman: The Eleventh Colossus
I’ll never forget my first battle with this pint-sized pugilist. By this point in the game, I’d conquered 10 majestic giants through some combination of climbing, jumping, hanging, and stabbing. I was confident, maybe even a little cocky.
Then this tiny terror enters the scene and changes everything. He’s not big and slow; he’s small and fast, which demands some out-of-the-box thinking. This tense game of cat-and-mouse expands the game’s systems in magical ways. From using a lit torch to force the colossus back, to holding on for dear life while it gallops through winding canyon trails, this encounter was a mindblower, and solidified Shadow of the Colossus as one of the most surprising and innovative games of all time.
Tim Turi: The Fifth Colossus
Up until the Fifth Colossus, every battle takes place on solid ground. I knew something was different while wading through these dark waters. Fear of a massive aquatic monster brushing Wander’s feet gave me chills. The truth of the encounter was a shock.
A huge winged beast of stone and flora swooped above. The majestic creature gracefully perched on the ruins of a spire and watched my every move. It didn’t want a fight, only to observe. The only tension in the serene scene was in my pulled bowstring. The infinitesimal arrow sailed through the air and harmlessly bounced off the sturdy hide. The Colossus stretched out its impressive wingspan and heaved itself into the air.
I still remember the rush of adrenaline as the flying behemoth divebombed at me. The game forces players to look the devil in the eye and leap at the beasts’ mossy shoulder to climb aboard. From there, the “fight” takes on a dramatically different feel. Wander’s only threat is losing hold of the creature’s wings and falling. Hunting for vulnerable sigils along the soaring, banking beast’s wings and tail was exhilarating. That dizzying high was matched by the plunging low of watching the Colossus woefully accept its defeat and descend into the dark waters. My penance was scrambling through the unnerving depths, trying to escape the tendrilled sin of Wander’s conquest.
The encounter is still the standout moment of the game to this day.
That’s our take as a team, but with fewer entries than there are Colossi, we didn’t get a chance to see and hear about the full roster. That’s where we turn to you!
What’s the best colossus?
Vote in our poll and share your stories below — we’d love to hear how Shadow of the Colossus affected players around the world.
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