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Video Game / Shadow of the Colossus

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Stand on the shoulders of giants.

Some mountains are scaled. Others are slain.
Promotional Tagline

Shadow of the Colossus is a 2005 Action-Adventure game and the second entry in the Team ICO Series. Directed by Fumito Ueda, the game does away with numerous conventional videogame formulas to create an aesthetically breathtaking experience centred on massive fights and world exploration. The storyline is vast but told with very little exposition, which allows players to form their own story based on their individual experiences.

A young man named Wander enters a forbidden land on horseback, carrying with him the corpse of a girl named Mono and a stolen sword. He travels to the Shrine of Worship in search of Dormin, a mysterious god-like being believed to have the power to control the dead. Wander's arrival at the Shrine awakens Dormin; the deity's disembodied voice confirms Dormin can revive Mono... but warns Wander that he will pay a terrible price in return. Dormin instructs Wander to seek out and kill sixteen Colossi spread throughout the forbidden land; only after all sixteen of the giants have fallen will Dormin resurrect Mono.

As Wander navigates the vast and mostly empty land on his horse Agro, he has only one tool to help him: the stolen sword, which is magical and creates a beam pointing in the direction of his next battle when held up to the light. This beam becomes less and less helpful as the game progresses, as finding the later Colossi involves lots of long detours through shadowy mountain paths and dark valleys; the sword tells you where to go but provides no guidance on how to get there. Aside from his sword, his bow, and his own strength and cunning, Wander has nothing else to fall back on; there is no armor to collect, no items to use, and no secret power-ups hidden away somewhere. (Well, not until New Game Plus, anyway.)

When Wander engages in battle with a Colossus, he has no guidance on how to handle the David Versus Goliath situation but his magic sword, which will, again, tell Wander where to go — each Colossus has specific weak points Wander must hit — but not how to get there; it's all up to Wander to figure out how to (attempt to) climb the beast's body and (attempt to) attack those weak points. All of the Colossi will do everything in their power to make reaching those weak points difficult, so battles can take much longer than the typical boss fights in other video games. Once Wander kills a Colossus, he is transported back to the Shrine of Worship, and the process repeats itself...with some subtle changes in Wander's looks after each cycle.

Or Wander can just spend hours and hours exploring the Wide-Open Sandbox, which is filled with Scenery Porn, Ruins for Ruins' Sake and plenty of space for him to ride Agro around on.

This game is unique in several ways:

  • While Wander can kill the local friendly wildlife for a small permanent stamina bonus, only the sixteen Colossi are recognized as his enemies.
  • The game provides no towns or dungeons to explore, nor any other characters to interact with. The manual explains that other people consider the land cursed, and it also implies that a previous civilization lived there (which would explain the Benevolent Architecture).
  • Wander has only a bow-and-arrow set and the magic sword in his inventory. No other items exist in an initial playthrough, and he cannot upgrade his current ones (except for replay value in a New Game Plus). Wander finishes the game in almost the same state as when he started it.

Shadow of the Colossus was originally released on the PlayStation 2. In October of 2011, Sony bundled it with its predecessor ICO for an Updated Re-release on the PlayStation 3. Sony announced a remake of Shadow of the Colossus for the PlayStation 4 during E3 2017, to be developed by Bluepoint Games with assistance from SIE Japan Studio. The remake's assets were made from scratch, along with an optional new control scheme, but it is otherwise faithful to the original. It was released on February 6, 2018.

Shadow of the Colussus serves as a prequel to ICO in terms of timeline placement. However, elaborating any further would reveal a massive spoiler with Shadow of the Colossus proper. It is also in continuity with The Last Guardian, though Guardian's relation with SotC in the timeline is more ambiguous than SotC's placement is with ICO.

A movie based on the game was announced years ago, but it currently sits in Development Hell. On one hand, it has plenty of potential for Scenery Porn and a compelling plot; on the other hand, how do you adapt what amounts to a puzzle game writ large? While Justin Marks had the initial credit for the film's screenplay, the studio ended up replacing him with Josh Trank after the success of his film Chronicle — at least until his next film Fantastic Four (2015) came along, as its massive failure (largely laid at Trank's feet) essentially ended any involvement from him.

Shadow of the Colossus contains the following tropes:

  • 100% Completion: The Updated Re-release ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection for the PS3 has trophies that requires you to do absolutely everything you can think of. This includes, but is not limited to, climbing to the top of the tower, obtaining every item, and maxing out your health and stamina.
  • After Boss Recovery: After defeating each colossus, Wander is returned to the Shrine of Worship with his health meter fully restored. It also increases with each colossus defeated.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Most of the Colossi are not in a position to come attack you. They mostly just react to your attacks and your invasion of their personal space. Every Colossus has a slow-motion death scene (they fall slowly because of their size) with haunting background music to drive in what you have just done. Phalanx in particular is absolutely stunning: It makes no attempt to acknowledge you, much less attack you, which makes you feel even worse when you give it the death blow.
  • All There in the Script: His name is Wander and her name is Mono; we only know this because of the credits. He does say her name after his vision of Mono's awakening though, albeit very quietly.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Thanks to the sheer ambiguity of the situation of the story, everyone who isn't Agro can possibly be this.
  • Ambiguous Robots: The Colossi. According to the creators, it's up to the player to interpret whether they are living or mechanical.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Almost everything in the plot has at least some ambiguity to it. Is Dormin evil, or otherwise a herald of catastrophe? Is Lord Emon? Is Mono? Is Wander? (We only know the last two names from the credits.) Did Dormin keep his promise and resurrect Mono as they were dying, and did they intentionally save Wander, or was that an incidental effect of the ritual? For that matter, did Dormin even die?
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Or rather "And Then Wander Was Dormin". At the end of the game, in order to complete their spell, Dormin uses Wander's body as a vessel to manifest itself in the physical world as a gigantic, Colossus-like being.
  • Annoying Arrows: Although arrows are useful in attacking a weak point or getting their attention, the sword is the only thing that can kill the Colossi. Justified in that, well, they're really big, they're partly made of rock and stone, and (according to Dormin, at least), destiny says the Cool Sword is the only thing that can hurt them. Averted, however, once Wander is the one getting shot at. Even after transforming, he still drags his left leg.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: During Colossi battles, Wander can survive falls from great heights that would instantly kill him outside of battle. Also counts as Acceptable Breaks from Reality since the game would be nigh unbeatable if you got reduced to a greasy red smear every time you fell off even a moderately sized Colossus.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Wander cannot penetrate any part of a Colossus that is covered in stone armor or thick hide. Instead, he has to find ways to get to their vital weak spots, which are invariably on the fur-covered parts of a Colossus's body. A couple of Colossi are completely covered in armor, so the only way to beat them is to knock the armor off somehow.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Agro can have either this or Artificial Stupidity, depending on your point of view. She has some minor path-finding abilities, actively avoiding running into obstacles or off of high cliffs (and this navigational power is essential for at least one of the battles). The flip-side to this is that she does not always follow orders perfectly, will not run on narrow paths, and can be a nightmare to direct through enclosed areas—especially if trees are present.
  • Art Major Physics: The concept of the Colossi themselves requires a Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but since the world has fantastic and mystic elements in it, there is always the possibility that it is supported by supernatural means. See, for instance, Sand Is Water, Soft Water, and Square-Cube Law.
  • Beautiful Void: The minimalist design of the game combined with an emphasis on exploring creates a world that is both large and almost completely void of life.
  • Benevolent Architecture:
    • Sometimes the geometrical arrangement of the geography seems a little too convenient for reaching certain Colossi. It is a Justified Trope, since the location is one big ruin, so these structures had a purpose once. What that purpose was, however, is another matter.
    • The Colossi themselves have a Benevolent Architecture: the stone parts are usually designed way too conveniently to be natural (this is especially blatant during the first, fourth, and final Colossi).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mono is revived, so Wander succeeded in his quest. Agro, who was last seen falling into a ravine having saved Wander's life, is alive and reasonably well (possibly due to Dormin reviving and summoning her back to the temple, just like the fifteen times previously), and Wander himself is given a second chance at life. Lord Emon has destroyed/resealed Dormin and shattered the bridge to the Forbidden Lands, so no one can trespass upon it, which presumably satisfies him. Wander is allowed a chance for atonement, as he privately wished. On the other hand, Wander had to go through a severe traumatic experience, could have (possibly did) die during his possession by Dormin, and the trio of Agro, Mono, and Wander are now stuck in the Forbidden Lands with no feasible means of escape. Oh, and all of the Colossi have been destroyed and left to decay.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Gaius resides on a mushroom-like metal disc arising out of the water at an askew angle. It's surrounded by several similar-looking but smaller discs.
  • Black Magic: The spell for reviving Mono is forbidden for a reason—it is dangerous and dark stuff.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: And embeds itself into a floor made of stone.
  • Bookends:
    • The first cinematic opens with dark skies and clouds, as an eagle flies into the shot over the mountains. After the credits, the eagle flies over the mountains, out of shot, and the last cinematic ends with clouds and dark skies.
    • The entrance to the first and final colossi encounters is through a narrow rectangular gap in the mountains.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Common with the desert-based Colossi, but the pyrophobic hanging out in a room full of torches takes the cake.
  • Boss Game: The game has no wild monsters to get in the way, no sub-bosses or side quests to slow you down, no weapons or equipment to find or levels to grind—only 16 Colossi scattered across miles of Scenery Porn and a sword which points in their general direction.
  • Boss Room: A few of the Colossi cannot be escaped from once you have engaged them in battle.
  • Boss Rush: Colossus is this, full stop. But there is a Time Attack Mode, in which you must kill each Colossus as fast as possible. Do well enough and you can unlock a whole bunch of bonuses. See Time-Limit Boss.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • Beat the game once or twice and collect enough silver lizard tails to improve your grip, and you can climb to a secret garden on top of Dormin's tower as seen in the ending. Eating the fruit on the trees there will eventually reduce your health and stamina to less than the player initially starts with, though.
    • The Sword of the Sun produces a beam even when in a dark area. This sounds useful, but it can only be unlocked on Hard Mode, which can only be unlocked by finishing the game on Normal first. In other words, you can only obtain this sword that helps you find the Colossi once you have already been to them all (and thus know where they are).
    • The Sword of Dormin in the PS4 remake, found in a secret area underneath the Shrine of Worship. It is by far the most powerful weapon in the game, one-shotting early Colossi like Valus, but significantly reduces health regen. However, you only unlock it once you find all 79 Enlightenments, some of which are in places you can't get to on your first playthrough. So it's likely that by the time you finally get the Sword, you will already have max stamina, making the thing overkill. You don't even get a trophy for it! At least the Sword looks really cool, though.
  • Bullfight Boss: The two "tiny" Colossi, Celosia and Cenobia, count as this. Shattering their armor takes some figuring out.
  • Call Reception Area: The Forbidden Lands. Wander was forbidden to go there by Emon, and when he does go there, Dormin gives him the quest that makes up the entire game.
  • Camera Screw: This happens whenever a solid object, like the wall or a Colossus's thrashing limb, is behind Wander and will not let you see what is going on.
  • Collection Sidequest: The PS4 remake added one involving 79 Enlightenments, coin-like objects hidden in various locations across the Forbidden Land. They're usually in hard-to-get places that require some climbing, or falling, to get to, and some of them you definitely won't be able to reach on your first playthrough. There's no way to mark them on the map, and the counter showing how much you have is in the lower left-hand corner of the map instead of in the Stats screen. The only hint you have is your controller will make a strange sound if you're near one. Your prize for getting all 79 is the Sword of Dormin, the most powerful weapon in the game, but at the cost of reduced health regen.
  • Colossus Climb: This game is the Trope Namer. Part of the challenge involves getting a Colossus (or yourself) into position so that this can be started, then locating the Colossus's weak point while climbing it. Funnily enough, not every Colossus is a tower-sized being—the smaller, tank-sized Colossi move ridiculously fast and are (relatively) aggressive on sight.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Against any Colossus that can use projectiles, cover of any sort is acceptable. Since the setting is mostly stone, it is reasonable. The exception is against the 12th Colossus, where you can hide a foot underwater to avoid...lightning balls.
  • Continuity Nod: A few listed below.
    • At the end of the game, a child is born with two horns.
    • If you ride along the south-western coast, you can end up on the beach from ICO's ending sequence.
    • When fighting a colossus scared of fire, Wander picks up a stick and uses it in the same manner as his sword (that is to say, not very well).
    • Among the bonus weapons from the Hard Mode time attacks are a sword styled like the ones Ico can find around the castle, and the Queen's Sword he uses in the finale.
    • Some of the ruins resemble those found around the Castle In The Mist.
    • Shadowy human-shaped creatures, like those fought in ICO, can be seen at several points in the game.
    • invokedWord of God also confirms the fictional language spoken is the same one from ICO, and that Wander is the progenitor of the line of horned boys.
  • Controllable Helplessness: This happens twice during the ending sequence. The second time, you can theoretically escape from it, but there are invisible walls at the edge and no apparent outside.
    • The player also retains control of Wander in the brief moment between slaying a Colossus and being impaled by the black tentacles that emerge from its corpse. Needless to say, it is impossible to outrun them.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: You have to kill each Colossus to proceed, and each time you kill one, it cries out in pain. You drive the 11th Colossus over an edge out of fear of you scorching it with a torch. How it cowers is especially pitiful.
  • Cutscene Drop: After striking the final blow into a Colossus, you watch a cutscene that shows their demise. Usually, this is not too far away from where the actual blow was dealt and you will not notice it. It becomes obvious against certain foes, such as Avion and Celosia. And when you return to find the body later, do not expect it to be in the same place where you saw it fall—or even in the same position.
  • Cutting the Knot: During your initial playthrough, the silver-tailed lizards are tricky to take out; you can either run them over on Agro (only possible if they're out in the open), shoot them with an arrow (this game does not have an exceptional archery system), or sneak up on them and slash them with the sword (Wander's swordplay is horrendous). In a second playthrough, you have access to flash arrows, which just need to land in a lizard's general vicinity to kill them and make their tails easy pickings.
  • Damage Discrimination: Arrow shots that were eating away at the Colossus' health bar will suddenly cease being effective, requiring you to go in there with your sword and finish the job.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: For whatever reason, the control scheme of the PS4 remake of the game has been completely revamped. For anyone who's coming from the older versions of the game, this can be quite jarring and lead to a few unintentional deaths. There is an option to change to the original control scheme, thankfully.
  • David Versus Goliath: A single human faces down a nigh-invincible giant. Repeat 16 times.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: When Wander gets knocked down by a colossus, it takes him a few seconds to get back to his feet. The two smaller colossi are fast enough and aggressive enough to knock Wander back down before you can regain control. With bad luck, they can very easily stun lock you until you are dead or you reset. With a maxed out health bar, this trope is the result.
  • Deconstruction: One of the most important artistic points of the game is that it deconstructs the concept of a Boss Battle. The Colossi are not monsters or insane villains; they're just animals who operate on territorial instincts, with Phalanx in particular not even bothering to attack you at all, and none of them would be dangerous if they were just left alone. The game goes out of its way to make you feel bad for killing them, especially given that you do it for a cause you know nothing about. To drive the point home, the game doesn't automatically end when Malus, the de-facto Final Boss, is defeated. Instead, there is one more sequence where the player takes control of a shadowy giant being attacked by bowmen, who are helpless before your attacks until Emon puts a stop to it, leading to one final moment of Controllable Helplessness where in order to end the game, Wander has to die. This effectively makes him (and by extension, the player) the final boss as punishment for what they've done.
  • Demonic Possession: Dormin does a full possession on Wander at the end.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • If you happen to fall off of the 5th Colossus during the fight and manage to land on top of one of the ruins sticking out of the lake, the Colossus will use its wings to blow gusts of wind at you and knock you back into the water, rather than swooping at you. It will also do this if you try to snipe at it from behind the fence surrounding the entrance to the lake. You will just get flung down the set of stairs behind you, though.
    • Are you not a good enough shot to get those pesky silver-tailed lizards? The dev team thought of this too: After enough near misses, the lizard will shed its tail, which you can then pick up for the stat bonus. You will even see the (now tail-less) lizard still scampering about.
  • Disney Death: At the Point of No Return Agro falls into a ravine and is presumed dead—but the horse shows up at the end, healthy save for a bad limp.
  • Dream Sequence: Wander has a brief one after killing the 8th Colossus; during the dream, Mono wakes up and says Wander's name. When Wander wakes up from the dream, he can be heard muttering Mono's name.
  • Easter Egg: Along with the aforementioned beach from ICO, one was added in the PS4 remake. It's possible to find one of the barrels you can feed Trico in The Last Guardian.
  • Empathic Environment: It's raining and thundering while you fight the last Colossus, likely to highlight the tragic finale of your battles while you also lost Agro to get there. In the PS4 remake, it starts to rain and thunder immediately after you lose Agro.
  • Empty Room Psych:
    • Averted. None of the bonus items or power-ups in the game are found by wandering around (rather by beating specific challenges) or other plot related NPCs or items anywhere in the game. The whole game is a love letter to Scenery Porn. If you search long and hard, you will find out that, aside from the secret garden area, the Forbidden Land really does not have anything else in it.
    • Some players, desperate to find something new, will invoke this trope on themselves simply by getting hyped up over finding a particularly interesting rock formation or an out-of-the-way cliff ledge. Needless to say, there is never anything there.
  • Everything Fades: The game averts this with the Colossi. Once you have killed a Colossus, the creature's body will turn to stone and lie exactly where it fell for the rest of the game. You can go back to their arenas later and look at the remains, too. Interacting with them allows you to challenge that particular Colossus to a rematch.
    • This is played straight with the arrows: Fire above a certain quantity of arrows and the remaining ones disappear.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: The price Wander pays for going against Emon and Dormin's warnings is Demonic Possession. Both Dormin and Emon warned that bad things would happen if he insisted on going through with the forbidden spell to revive Mono.
  • Fake Difficulty: How often the Colossi shake was based on the frame rate. Since the PS3 version had an increased frame rate, the Colossi would shake more often than originally expected. This unforseen change made several fights harder than necessary, especially in Time Attack.
  • Fan Remake: Two are being developed by two different teams; Beyond the Forbbiden Lands and Tribute to Shadow of the Colossus. Both of them have the same basic goal of trying to restore the cut content (specifically, the beta Colossi) in a playable fashion. Of the two, Tribute currently has two demos that include the boar and Phoenix.
  • Fictionary: The language spoken in the game is supposedly an amalgam of Backwards Japanese, English, and Latin.
  • Flipping Helpless: This is the weakness of the 8th and 9th Colossus; #8 is only vulnerable when it falls and lands on its back, and #9 is only vulnerable while flipped.
  • Forced to Watch: An unintentional but still very much present case; from where Malus, the final Colossus, is situated, you can see every beam of light from the previous fifteen Colossi you killed, meaning that Malus had to stand there and watch as you systematically murdered all of its kin.
  • Foreshadowing: After defeating the 8th Colossus, Wander has a dream where Mono wakes up (from his POV) before the scene unexpectedly zooms out. In the game's ending, Emon's exorcism spell forcibly sucks a possessed Wander into a pool of water on the other side of the building...and then Mono wakes up.
  • Game-Over Man: If you die against a Colossus, its face will be on the game over screen.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Wander wants to harness Dormin's ability to resurrect the dead by killing each and every Colossus. He gets a lot more than he had bargained for.
  • Gotta Kill 'Em All: The cape where Malus resides is blocked off until his brethren are slain.
  • Grave Clouds: The Sealed Lands are covered by clouds. Most of the landscape is brightly-illuminated, yet the sun is nowhere to be seen. Only the beams of light over the remains of slain colossi pierce the cloud cover.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: No one's morality can really be defined as good or evil in this game.
  • Guide Dang It!: Of the various Colossi in the game, Cenobia is the one most likely to get players stuck over how they're suppose to beat it. Dormin's hints can misinterpretated thanks to the various setpieces in its boss arena, and even if the player figures out the first stage of the fight, figuring out how to remove its armor can still trip people up.
  • Heart Container:
    • You can gather the fruit which appears on some trees to increase your maximum health.
    • You can hunt the silver-tailed lizards for their tails, which raise your stamina when collected.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Starts geysering out of the Colossi whenever you stab their vitals.
  • Hint System: Of the "Hint on Delay" form. A voice will provide a tip that tells you how to defeat the Colossus if you remain idle or fail to deal damage within a long time. And it will keep on mentioning the tip at specific intervals if you still fail to make any progress against that Colossus.
  • Home of the Gods: The game world is the Forbidden Land where the god/demon Dormin is sealed.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: You are the final boss, and you are basically invincible, but you cannot win the fight.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: There are occasionally ledges which, by rights, Wander should physically be able to jump onto or climb, but for some reason he cannot do so.
  • Invisible Wall: Even if it is a bit more subtle than an outright wall. If you manage to climb the shrine, you can walk the bridge that links it to the mainland. When you get at the other side, you find an open exit. Try to go through it and you are pushed back by a strong wind coming from outside. This may be justified if this is Dormin's doing (the deity cannot allow Wander to leave before he slays all the Colossi), but it is really just the developer's way of saying, "Sorry, but the map stops here—what did you expect?"
  • Ironic Echo: That song that plays when a Colossus dies? It plays when Wander is sucked into Emon's spell.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The final battle is effectively this for the player. You've spent the entire game killing the Colossi one by one even though they posed no threat to you, and at the end of the game you effectively become a Colossus yourself, and end up helpless to save yourself against Lord Emon and his men, just like the Colossi you've spent hours hunting down and murdering by this point.
  • Lead the Target: A useful tactic when fighting the Colossi is to aim your arrows slightly ahead of where the target is going to be.
  • Light 'em Up: Aside from literally leading Wander to the Colossi and their weak spots, the sword seems to kick up dust/burn whenever there is an object where the light happens to gather. Since there is no discernible sun in the sky, this may be (at least partially) Dormin's ability/presence.
    • A light source hovering in the sky is present over the corpse of every defeated Colossus. While climbing Malus, all of them can be seen in view.
  • Living Shadow: Shadowy beings surround Wander whenever he reappears in the central temple after killing a Colossus. They're heavily implied to be the spirits of the slain Colossi. At the end of the game, Dormin appears this way when they take control of Wander's body.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: In general, there are a lot of very nice songs on the soundtrack that are very short and only play about once in the entire game. Certain parts of certain songs are never heard in-game, and others like "Marshlands", "Roar of the Earth" (which is the subtitle of the soundtrack), and "Sky Burial" aren't even featured in the game at all.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Time Attack as a whole can fall into this. While fighting each Colossus the second time is not too difficult (give or take your own personal Goddamned Boss), doing it against a timer may force you to abandon an otherwise workable strategy in favour of a quicker one due to the time constraint. This can lead to a lot of trial and error—and a lot of hoping that a given Colossus will get into the right position quickly. The AI will not always do what you want to do it, however, which can lead to a lot of lost time and a lot of frustration.
    • Any battles where Agro would logically be present include her in the Time Attack. However, even if you most likely would have ridden into the arena, Time Attack mode starts you on your feet, standing a small distance away from her. Sometimes this isn't a big deal, but for a few of the Colossi (particularly Dirge and Basaran) it can turn the first few seconds of the fight into an intense nightmare where one misstep as you scramble to mount your horse could result in failure.
  • Matchstick Weapon: The eleventh colossus, commonly nicknamed 'Celosia', is terrified of fire; an important part of its boss battle is waving a blazing torch in its face to scare it into a position where you can actually damage it.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Every character. Dormin's is described below and is also close to dormir, the French/Spanish/Portuguese word for being asleep. Wander's name is obvious. Mono comes from the prefix meaning "single" or "alone", meaningful when you consider the ending. Agro's name doesn't seem to come from anything meaningful, although it does mean fuss or bother in the Ido language. The All There in the Manual/Word of God names from the Colossi are usually rooted in some sort of mythology.
    • Dormin is also Nimrod backwards. Nimrod killed a bull and wore its horns on his head in order to strike fear into his enemies, and he was also murdered and cut into several pieces. Both of which tie into the story of Dormin.
  • Menu Time Lockout: After beating Time Attack Mode, you get goodies which can be accessed in the pause menu. At any point during the game, you can switch between them instantly.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: It can be very easy for the player to fall into a sense of doubt and unease in their actions of killing the Colossi as time goes on, especially when Wander is becomes completely possessed by Dormin at the end.
  • Minimalism: Both in storytelling and game design, there is little here.
  • Missing Secret: You can stab the sands of the desert like you would a Colossus weak point. This serves no function.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Wander's arrows fly in an arch, but only if they're rapidly fired without properly tensing the bow. Holding down the aim button will straighten the trajectory so that the arrow aims for the crosshairs the player can see onscreen.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Phalanx (the 13th colossus) will never directly attack Wander. Avion, the 5th, will only do so in self-defence, after you fire an arrow at it (required to mount it).
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Doesn't matter what height Wander falls from, if he can grab a ledge or a vine on the way down, he'll be perfectly fine. In fact, even if he doesn't grab something, he'll still take less damage than a real fall would've done. This reaches its peak during the last colossus, where a fall from a colossus like a skyscraper is eased if you only grab one of the lower ledges at the last second. There are certain situations where this is averted, mainly outside of the Colossus battles.
  • Oddball in the Series: An amusing case in that Team Ico doesn't exactly make video games so much as pieces of art, but Shadow adheres to quite a few more classic video game conventions than ICO or The Last Guardian. Wander has a health bar, multiple weapons, bosses to fight, collectibles to search for, an overworld to roam, and an actual goal beyond "get out of here"; this is also the only game in the series which isn't a single beautiful Escort Mission one way or another.
  • Offscreen Teleportation:
  • One-Hit Kill: Some Colossus attacks become this in Hard Mode.
  • The Overworld: The game has one shrine in the center of the map and then an expansive overworld with 16 bosses in it. That's it and it's beautiful.
  • Oxygen Meter: Your stamina meter doubles as an oxygen meter. If it ran out, you would simply let go of whatever you were holding and return to the surface.
  • The Paladin: Lord Emon appears to be something of the sort. He's certainly not keen on the player doing the dirty work of a literal demon.
  • Photo Mode: Added in the PlayStation 4 version that lets you apply filters and rotate the camera up to 90 degrees.
  • Platform Battle: Many Colossus Climbs cannot be initiated without taking advantage of the scenery in some way. Considering how huge the colossi are, this often involves getting dangerously high, and falling will likely injure Wander (not to mention frustrate a few players).
  • Point of No Return: Crossing the bridge to the final boss arena. The bridge collapses and Wander loses Agro.
  • Poison Mushroom: Most of the fruits in the game increase Wander's maximum health, but the fruit in the secret garden at the top of the Shrine of Worship decreases both his health and stamina. Word of God is that they're restoring his humanity. (But this isn't useful if you want to defeat the colossi.)
  • Railroading: It's possible to head to a different Colossus arena before the first Colossus as soon as the game starts. However, the Colossus simply won't be there until it's their turn in the boss order, regardless if their boss cutscene shows them reawakening in an area they realistically could have only been at prior. The official lore for this is that the Forbidden Lands were Frozen in Time until Wander set foot there, and the Colossi are slowly reawakening the longer Wander spends there. The out of universe reason is the limitations of the PS2 made it impossible to have all the Colossi's trigger flags active at once. Weirdly enough, the final colossus still has an extra seal to prevent the player from accessing their arena early. This is likely because getting to the arena is a Point of No Return.
  • Real Is Brown: Quite possibly the Trope Codifier. The predominantly brown and grey environments were aesthetic choices, rather than an attempt at being more "realistic". These colors are relatively muted, but still help balance out the brown for an overall aesthetically pleasing and diverse palette.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Most, if not all of the Colossi have naturally blue eyes; right before one attacks, or attempts to shake Wander off, its eyes flash reddish-orange.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The game very intentionally leaves almost everything relating to the plot and the characters up to interpretation of the player. Is Dormin evil? Are the Colossi natives of the lands, or were intentionally created to keep Dormin sealed? Did Mono know Wander prior to the events of the game? Is Emon and his men evil Religious Zealots who murdered Mono for no reason, or the real heroes trying to stop Wander from making a great mistake? The game doesn't give any hints one way or the other. It just presents the events as they are and doesn't take any sides.
  • Role-Reversal Boss: At the end of the game, Wander merges with Dormin to become essentially a new Colossus and has to fight a troop of priests trying to reverse the transformation. This scene, while brief, provides a chilling insight into how the sixteen Colossi that Wander killed to get there must have felt while fighting a small, nimble, and very determined foe for their lives.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: It's never made clear what purpose exactly the ruins serve, or how they were built. All part of the "storytelling" in the game where they have left it all up to the player.
  • Save-Game Limits: On his quest, Wander can only save his progress by two methods. There are temples scattered across the land where he can pray - these are save points for the player. Reload the game after saving and Wander will be found sleeping at the foot of the temple. The other method is to kill a Colossus and wait for the screen to go dark before being prompted.
    • The PS4 version adds a manual save from the pause menu, but BE FOREWARNED: this will only start you from the closest Save Shrine that you have activated to your location at the time of the save, despite what you'll hear in some Let's Plays. This means that if you haven't activated any Save Shrines, you travel a great distance to a Colossus, save and quit, it's back to the Shrine of Worship with you.
  • Scenery Porn: The lush detail added to every canyon, every field, every forest and lake, can only be explained by Doing It for the Art. It has been described on this wiki as 'a love letter to Scenery Porn'. The remastered, high definition release is even more glorious
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The colossi vary dramatically in difficulty throughout the game, ranging from straightforward battles of the "shoot Colossus in weak point, climb on top, stab weak point repeatedly" variety to frustrating Guide Dang It! puzzle bosses which will have you reaching for a walkthrough. The solution for the final boss, for example, is very straightforward: the only real challenge is hanging on to its fur for long enough to kill it.
  • Sequence Breaking: While it's impossible to fight the Colossi out of order, it is possible to skip certain phases in the fights against certain Colossi. Naturally, this makes for some pretty quick times in the Time Attack mode.
    • The Gaius fight is based around a mountain-sized swordsman smacking the ground with his sword, and it gets stuck in the ground after every swing until he yanks it free. Wander can run up his sword while it's stuck, but any attempt to climb up his arm is blocked by his wrist guard. Normally, you're supposed to have him smack his sword against the iron plate in the arena, which causes the wrist guard to shatter. However, with good timing it's possible to jump off his sword when he raises it back up and get over the wrist guard or onto his and or belly, allowing you to climb up without having to break the wrist guard. Speedrunners love the obvious-if-crazy option; stand on the tip of his sword while it's stuck, and he will fling Wander into the air in the general direction of his head when he yanks it free. This cuts out 90% of the fight, but it's basically a Luck-Based Mission.
    • In the Basaran fight, it's possible, thanks to a certain quirk in Agro's physics, to catapult yourself off of Agro and onto the tip of Basaran's "tail". Many actually prefer this method when compared to how you're supposed to do it, thanks to how finicky and long it can take to pull off.
    • If you're bold enough, in the Cenobia fight, it's possible to lure Cenobia all the way to the final pillar and then use it as a platform to get up onto it. It requires very precise timing, however, and if it goes wrong, do not expect to have a chance of winning anymore.
    • Normally you have to tempt Phaedra into trying to attack your hiding place and then wait for it to get tired and crouch down. With some fancy footwork, it's possible to chop out this process by jumping off of Agro, onto Phaedra's leg, and then quickly hopping up onto its back where the proper handholds are.
    • Although pointless, a glitch involving staggering the stamina meter in the PS4 version using the hawk can allow Wander access to the final boss arena prior to beating the 15th Colossus. Doing so can cause some weird effects to the game. For example, triggering the Agro death cutscene puts for the Forbidden Lands into a permeant stormy state and causes Wander to lose access to Agro. Malus is also unloaded, allowing the player to fully explore the arena.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Argus first appears in the destroyed city, the first we see is one hand gripping the ledge, and then the other, before the Colossus brings its head up, roars, and mounts the ledge. This intro was first seen in Kingdom Hearts for the Ice Titan, a similarly huge creature.
    • In the PS4 version, two of the Trophy names are shout outs to Dark Souls, with the trophy for defeating Barba called "Tomb of the Giant" and the one for completing the game titled "Bearer of the Curse."
  • Soft Water: Those of us enjoying the stunningly realistic animations of Wander might wince whenever he falls from several stories into a pool of water and doesn't lose any life from it. While he survives falls from several stories anyway, due to either becoming an Empowered Badass Normal or otherwise being Made of Iron, at least he can lose health if he does fall onto a hard surface. Thankfully, it makes fighting the third, fifth, seventh and twelfth colossi a little easier should you find yourself falling off things a lot. If you love the Doing It for the Art style, the colossi are more than ample distractions.
  • So Near, Yet So Far: Mono is dead as the game begins, and Wander's deal with the deity Dormin is that it will resurrect her in exchange for Wander destroying each of the Colossi. You return to the central temple where she rests every time you defeat one.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: A Colossus generally has two types of music play during its boss fight - the initial theme, which is what you start hearing, and the 'victory is at hand' music, which usually plays once you've done something crucial and victory is at hand.
  • Spiritual Successor: To ICO.
  • Stationary Boss: Malus, the Grand Gigas. Don't get cocky; just reaching this boss is a battle in itself.
  • "Stop the Hero" Twist: Wander follows the instructions of an unseen voice telling him to slay the sixteen Colossi roaming the lands. He's told that doing so would bring his loved one back to life. As the game progresses, we see there is a group of priests who are traveling to the land, and Wander eventually discovers that each Colossus was a living seal keeping the Ambiguously Evil Dormin sealed away. Defeating the final Colossus results in Dormin breaking loose and possessing Wander's body just after the priests arrive to warn him of what he was doing. From there, Dormin eventually gets sealed back in, and Mono awakens to find a little baby with horns nearby.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Wander might be Made of Iron, but if he gets hit by a Colossus, he'll stay down for about as long as you'd expect someone to stay down after getting creamed by a monster the size of a pickup truck at minimum.
  • Sword Sparks: They fly off when Wander uses his sword to strike a hard surface, such as a rock, or the side of his horse.
  • Take It to the Bridge: A two kilometers long bridge (at a guess). Without Agro, it takes a good ten minutes to cross it.
  • Take Your Time: Ignore the fact that a Knight Templar is on his way to purge your demons or that you have to kill all the Colossi to revive Mono. You're not required to do these things right away. In fact, even if you tried, it would take ages just to do one battle.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: For the most part, through subtle, disconcerting details such as in Wander's appearance, musical cues, and the colossi's AI and the ending...
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The PGW 2017 trailer for the PS4 remake apparently assumes that everybody's played the original game and thus completely spoils how to beat the 13th colossus.
  • Trick Arrow: If you play Time Attack Mode, you can get upgrades for your bow, including whistling arrows and explosive arrows.
  • Updated Re-release: After seeing how the first two God of War games were getting a hi-def upgrade for a PlayStation 3 re-release, Team ICO hinted that they'd like to do the same for both ICO and Colossus, but may not because of the cost and effort involved. At least, that was initially: TGS10 had confirmed an ICO and Colossus HD Compilation remake with 3D, upped frame-rate, and widescreen. And The Fandom Rejoiced once it was finally released.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Pressing the O button when next to or on top of Agro allows you to pet her affectionately without any in-game benefit.
    • If you want to improve your grip by collecting lizard tails, but don't want to kill the lizards, you have the slightly harder option of shooting just the tail itself, which they will then detach and run away from. Notably, the stamina you build up throughout the game from fighting the Colossi stacks with each subsequent playthough, so each New Game Plus gets a little bit easier just based on that. So long as you're fine with a bit of Early Game Hell, you don't need to harm a single lizard.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You can kill any of the local wildlife, including the tortoises and the doves that gather around Mono.
    • You're free to slash or shoot Agro. The poor horse will spook and run away from you, and is very likely to react like this for a long time afterwards whenever you draw your sword.
  • Virgin in a White Dress: Technically, we don't know if Mono is in fact a virgin, but considering white doves gather around her as you progress through the game, it's not too much of a stretch.
  • Walk It Off: Other than the save shrines, there's no way to heal other than to wait as your lifebar slowly grows back. Standing still or crouching helps it speed up, but in battle this also leaves you in danger if you hang about too long in the open.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: Most weapons can damage the Colossi, but only the ancient sword Wander carries can kill a Colossi. You can get additional swords that can kill the Colossi from the time attack mode, but it's debatable if that's canon or simply a bonus reward from time attack.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: There's miles of beautiful territory and scenery, but there are only a few things to do:
    • Find the colossi; much like the fights, getting to the encounter is almost like a stretched out platforming puzzle.
    • Eat fruit to extend your life bar.
    • Kill white-tailed geckos and eat their tails for more stamina.
    • Try to ride a bird by jumping off Agro and grabbing it.
    • Find a deep lake and ride a fish by the tail.
    • Tour the map and rid yourself of those obstructive clouds on the map.
    • Slay colossi and advance the story.
    • See if you can find the beach. Yes, that beach.
    • Get creative with your eight-fingered to-do list.
  • You Bastard!: Many players feel sorry for the Colossi, some to the point of not wanting to finish the game. Like games that deal with similar themes like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Spec Ops: The Line and NieR, much of the horrible stuff that happens could end if the player stopped playing the game.

"Thy next foe is..."


Video Example(s):


Wander's Deal with Dormin

In his quest to bring back the soul of his beloved Mono, Wander makes a deal with the entity Dormin, who warns the youth of dire consequences...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / DealWithTheDevil

Media sources: