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YMMV / Shadow of the Colossus

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    Wander and his motives 

    The Colossi 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Are they all just mindless beasts? Or are they aware of Wander's motives and actively attempting to stop him from releasing Dormin? Or are they, perhaps, attacking out of fear? (Celosia's behavior suggests that the Colossi are capable of feeling fear, as he backs away from a lit torch and may even sound a bit like he's whimpering.)
  • Anticlimax Boss: Malus can feel like this to some players expecting a more action-oriented finale. While the stormy atmosphere and the intense run-up are exciting, Malus cannot harm you once you've passed the Death Course, almost qualifying as a Zero-Effort Boss at this stage were it not for the fact that he can shake you off like any other colossus can. Even if he succeeds in doing so, the fall is unlikely to kill you, so the battle becomes a matter of diligently repeating the steps as necessary until you succeed and make it to the head, which needs to be stabbed quite a lot despite the lack of any danger. Between Malus’s impotence to stop you, the tedious nature of the climb and kill, and the melancholy music, one wonders if the anticlimactic elements might have been intentional, to emphasize the pitiful aspects of the colossi and characterize the act of killing them as unrewarding. In particular, at one point near the end of the climb you must climb onto Malus hand, where he pulls you in to examine you... but instead of trying to harm you, he merely examines you curiously.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Compared to Dirge and Celosia, Pelagia is much slower and fairly straight forward for how you're supposed to defeat it. Its main attack can even simply be dodged by dropping underwater.
    • From a gameplay standpoint, Phalanx is far easier than the three bosses that came before it. It can only deal damage indirectly, and the fight is pretty fun to boot. From an emotional standpoint, though, it's likely to be the first boss that'll make you reconsider Wander's actions, thanks to its extremely clear Non-Malicious Monster nature and its rather majestic death animation.
    • Argus, the 15th Colossus, is quite a bit simpler and less tense a fight compared to Cenobia, the Colossus that came before it. That said, figuring out how to get up on it can be a bit of a Guide Dangit moment, but it's still a step down in difficulty when compared to Cenobia.
    • Kuromori can be this when you realize that the higher up it is when it falls, the longer it stays down. Lure it up to the highest level of the arena, shoot it down, then immediately jump after it and there's a good chance you'll be able to kill it without it managing to get up again (at the expense of a little health lost in your own fall).
  • Catharsis Factor: From a game play perspective, the game's hardest challenge is completing all of the Time Trials on both Normal and Hard. Not only does that feel like a major accomplishment, but using Flash Arrows to blow up those slippery silver-tailed lizards and delivering a One-Hit KO to any Colossus with a single sigil with the Queen's Sword just feels so good after all the pain experienced to get them.
  • "Common Knowledge": The names that the Colossi are most commonly referred to by (e.g. Valus and Phaedra), including on this page, are actually Fan Nicknames and not official. The closest thing to official names are the ones they had during development; Fumito Ueda discussed them in an interview with Famitsu, so they're publicly known and are the ones listed first on the character page... but most fans don't use those names because they're not as cool. For example, the development name for "Valus" was "Minotaur", and "Barba" was "Minotaur B."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Gaius. He's the third Colossus faced, yet fans tend to think of him as the unofficial mascot for the game. Compared to the other Colossi, Gaius tends to have more fan art of him than the other Colossi, and tends to get focused on more than the others by the fans. Even Valus, the first Colossus and the one on the boxart, doesn't get as much attention. A close second would be Phalanx, thanks to having a very memorable battle.
  • Epileptic Trees: Malus' face is potentially a Double Meaning - their carved stone grimace can be interpreted as fury towards your actions, or horror towards them.
  • Goddamned Boss: Considering that there are sixteen wildly variable boss battles to choose from, it's inevitable that some of them will end up as this. Occasionally, a Colossus is not tricky to defeat, but instead is a Marathon Boss, and takes a long time to complete the strategy (Cenobia is a big offender here). The most notable ones, though, are:
    • Pelagia. One of the trickier Puzzle Boss battles, since getting it to expose its weak point requires a complicated bit of planning and experimentation. This is also while said boss is shooting balls of lightning at you every now and then, and you're swimming awkwardly through the water with it. Doesn't really help that it looks rather creepy.
    • Dirge. Even if you realize quickly that you can shoot it in the eyes, doing it while sitting backward, galloping on horseback is tricky, not helped by the layout of the Playstation controllers. The target also might not appear before Dirge makes an aggressive dive, or Agro might have to make a turn and throw your aim off. Even worse if you're still struggling with Agro's controls by this stage.
    • Basaran, (though see That One Boss if you found it really hard). Unlike most other Colossi, the Colossus Climb is the easy bit. The really annoying bit is getting it to stand above a geyser in time to get thrown over. Even if you get it in the right position, the geyser may stop just before you have time to shoot its ankles, and by the time the geyser fires again, Basaran has usually moved on. It doesn't help that Basaran would rather shoot you than move closer. Oh, and the geyser has to be in just the right place or it won't work, even when logically it should have an effect.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Granted, while the game does try to make you feel horrible for killing them, fans like to portray the Colossi as purely innocent creatures who are slain by the evil Wander for a selfish reason... Including the ones that attack him on sight with no provocation.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: "Sucks" is a strong word, but for some players who have a large focus on boss fights vs story/setting, they will complain that after you figure out how to climb every Colossi, actually killing them takes little effort as all you've left to do is just stab it till it's dead, and that once you've beaten the game once, there is no challenge to a replay. Rather astonishingly, one skilled player uploaded a video of him defeating all 16 Colossi in Hard time mode in less than an hour.
  • That One Boss:
    • Celosia. If you're really unlucky, the thing can back you in a corner and never let you get up properly, causing a game over and making you try again. Even if that doesn't happen, though, the stick that you need to pick up to scare Celosia away sometimes doesn't want to let you pick it up, leaving you swinging your sword like a fool and a wide open target for the boss to charge at you. And that's not even taking into account how hard it is to dodge.
    • Cenobia is just as small and fast as Celosia. A greater part of its battle is leaping from rooftop to pillar to rooftop as the thing stalks you from below, and if you miss one of the pillars or rooftops, you're screwed since Cenobia shares Celosia's Cycle of Hurting attack. On top of that, there's a part of the battle where you have to make a mad dash on the ground to the next safe area, and you only have just enough time to make it to safety lest Cenobia start batting you around like a ball.
    • Kuromori fires trios of energy blasts when provoked. The kicker is that the gas that remains actually hurts you. And beating it is no walk in the park, either; you have to lure him up a wall, go to one of the few openings, very quickly shoot two legs, then jump from what is usually a high height to reach the bottom to attack him. It sounds challenging, but it's even harder to execute.
    • Dirge can be this for first-time players. He is fast, hard-hitting, very aggressive, and doesn't open his eyes until he's right up on your ass, giving you only seconds to aim and shoot before he performs his lunging attack. Unless you've mastered horseback archery beforehand, you'll be seeing his nightmarish Game Over screen way more times than you'd like.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Reaching Malus (Colossus 16)'s feet without using the cover provided. For the record, it's been done, and is in fact a favored tactic of speedrunners. It first involves running in a straight line towards him by following an extremely specific course and accompanying set of instructions. Every single move you make has to be nearly frame-perfect or else you'll get blown away by Malus's deadly-accurate bolts.
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: All of the Colossi might be imposing, but their movements manage to look at least somewhat anatomically correct (Or as anatomically correct as an enormous rock-monster can be), but with Pelagia, it has somewhat bobbing, unnatural movements, which doesn't really take away from its somewhat creepy nature.
  • The Woobie: A lot of players feel bad about having to kill these guys. A few of the bigger recipients of this are:
    • Phaedra, for the scream it emits upon being stabbed.
    • Phalanx, for being the only colossus that will never actively attack you.

    Everything else 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The game gives you only the barest hints of story and leaves the vast majority up to the player.
    • Did Agro survive the fall, or was it Dormin who resurrected her along with Mono?
    • Dormin. Anything to do with Dormin. Are they evil? A Noble Demon? A benevolent god that was mistaken as evil because of their shadowy and dark appearance and power to control life and death? There's a lot of evidence to point towards any of these interpretations thanks to their actions throughout the game.
  • Annoying Video Game Helper: Dormin is somewhat infamous for the massively unhelpful "hints" They will chime in with if it takes you too long to kill a Colossus.
  • Awesomeness Withdrawal: A major reason for the "17th Colossus" "rumors" that still persist to this day. With a game of epic bosses the size of mountains, it's only natural that, once the final one is slain, people would want more. While no true 17th Colossus actually exists, groups of dedicated data-miners and researchers on the game's development history have dug up a lot about Colossi that never made it into the game.
  • Broken Base:
    • A minor one over the PS3 rerelease, between those who think it's the best and most complete version of the game, and those who think it's a Porting Disaster. Pros include items from the PAL version, better framerate, and minor updates to the graphics. Cons include increased load times, the removal of a few items exclusive to the North American release, and the removal of a few Good Bad Bugs such as the ability to move during certain cut scenes (which made Speed Running certain Colossi harder to pull off). Some people are also bugged by the fact that there is no PC version, if only for the chance of there being mods to add more Colossi to the game.
    • Then there's the PS4 remake of the game. While some do like the absolutely gorgerous graphical upgrades, others are feeling Sony is to trying and wring out every last dollar sign they can out of Shadow of the Colossus' popularity; especially with the announcement that the only thing being changed in the remake was the visual upgrades. This gave players the impression there was no new content being added, which after it released was quickly proven false, with 79 collectibles to further reward exploration and A new area and weapon you gained access to for finding them all.
    • On one hand, there are fans who like the game for the vague, open-to-interpretation plot, the wide-open scenery, and how the game makes you feel bad for the Colossi. On the other, there are fans who are into the game just for fighting the Colossi. The former usually treat the latter as small-minded idiots for not caring about the Colossi or feeling bad for what's going on, while the latter treat the former as a bunch of overly sensitive people who are overthinking things, and point out that if the developers really were going for that, they wouldn't have added frivolous things like the time attack mode.
    • The base is also split along how to interpret the story. The two major camps are those who see the game as a tragedy where you're playing as a Villain Protagonist and those who see the game as a tragedy where the bad guy wins and the hero's efforts were all for nothing in the end. A large chunk of the fanbase that overlaps both camps feels that the game's story is grounded in Gray-and-Gray Morality and too ambiguous to really say.
  • Cult Classic: The Team ICO Series games as a whole are this, but even in regards to ICO and The Last Guardian, Shadow of the Colossus still regarded as the best game in the series and has a massive surprisingly active fanbase to this day, alongside a series of dedicated hackers trying to find "the last big thing" hidden in the game's code.
  • Difficulty Spike: Most players agree that this happens somewhere around Colossi 3–5, which require strategies more complex than "climb up and stab repeatedly" to win the battle. The 10th Colossus, Dirge, is considered the starting point of another spike thanks to the battles becoming faster paced and far more tense (sans a few Breather Bossess).
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The ambiguous nature of the story means that it's not entirely clear which characters are the villains, but fans tend to coalesce around one of two major interpretations, hinging on whether Wander is a Villain Protagonist or not. Seeing comments from fans who subscribe to the other interpretation can feel like seeing villains in leather pants or (anti-) heroes as Death Eaters; see also Ron the Death Eater.
    • Wander's defenders generally see him as a Anti-Hero at worst, playing up his noble goal of bringing someone who was apparently ritually murdered back to life while downplaying how tragic the deaths of the Colossi are, Dormin's dubious nature, or both.
    • Those who side with Lord Emon tend to see him as a Hero Antagonist coming to clean up Wander's mess. His nature as some kind of holy knight is emphasized, while his implied involvement in Human Sacrifice in the backstory is swept under the rug or excused as keeping something even worse from happening.
    • Dormin is ambiguous in general. Their fans tend to see them as an amoral force of nature at worst and the closest thing the game has to a Big Good at best, while downplaying or ignoring how much of the game frames them as a demonic being.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Agro, no pun intended. Almost everyone who played can agree that the biggest Player Punch in the game is the Disney Death Agro receives right before facing the sixteenth Colossus. There's also the fact that, as a horse, Agro is the lone character who isn't subject to Alternative Character Interpretation: she's just a loyal mare doing as her master directs her. Not to mention that her theme music is absolutely amazing.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With the The Legend of Zelda in general, since it draws many elements from it, with a fair amount of people who think Shadow of the Colossus does them better than Zelda could even hope to do. Funnily enough, one can see Shadow Of The Colossus serving as a direct inspiration for several parts of the most recent Zelda game, Breath Of The Wild; the part involving the dragon Naydra and curing her corruption have a definite feel of the iconic Phalanx battle here, and the Colossi have something of a Spiritual Successor in The Divine Beasts. Even the setting of Breath is desolate and quite spartan, not unlike Shadow's setting (though one could argue that the original Zelda game inspired this one, thus paying back the compliment).
    • Related to it, there's also a rivalry between Agro fans and Epona fans. They basically compete for the title of "most iconic video game horse ever".
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Jumping upwards diagonally costs almost no grip meter, allowing you to reach the secret garden much earlier than intended, although jumping up the whole temple that way is quite a physical challenge in its own right. This was fixed in the remake, to many fans' dismay.
    • Because of the physics engine of the game, in certain situations, it's possible to launch Wander up into the air way higher than he normally can jump, with Agro launching being really useful for Time Attack trials.
    • Another quirk in the physics engine, if Wander hangs onto a Colossus in a certain spot, he'll be able to repeatedly stab them without being tossed around by the Colossi's shaking. Another really useful thing for Time Trials.
  • Hype Backlash: Mainly in regards to gameplay. Many who have long heard of the games reputation have still found the story to be fascinating, but find the gameplay to be tedious and little more than a glorified boss rush with long moments where nothing happens.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Probably the biggest complaint about the PS4 version is, besides the graphical upgrades, basically nothing was changed. While the PS3 version at least came with ICO which in turn also included the then PAL exclusive items in it, there's nothing to really bring people who owned the PS2 or PS3 versions back for another round. It didn't help that, before the PS4 remake was even announced, the devs implied that the next time they remade the game, they would likely be making a few changes, either. However, soon after the release, it was discovered there's 79 hidden coins known as "Enlightenments" hidden around the world, and finding all 79 unlocks a nifty new sword in a hidden area underneath the Shrine of Worship. So it's possible that Sony and BluePoint were using Exact Words when they said weren't changing anything besides the graphics, instead adding content.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The moral ambiguity of the plot fascinates some, but others just play the game to battle the Colossi.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Dormin is a dark entity trapped in the Forbidden Lands. Meeting Wander and learning of his desires to revive Mono, Dormin tells Wander they can revive her if Wander slays the sixteen Colossi keeping them imprisoned, but also warns Wander that he would suffer a heavy price. Released from their prison and confronted by Lord Emon, Dormin possesses Wander's body and uses him in their attempt to kill Emon and his men. When Emon survives and leaves the Forbidden Lands, Dormin reveals to have survived and fuse themselves with Wander becoming a horned infant and revive Mono as promised.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Most of the colossus battle, particularly Gaius the third Colossus, are widely used as an object labeling memes.
    • Cocaine Valus. Explanation 
  • Narm: The Controllable Helplessness of the final section where Wander fights against falling into the supposedly inevitable can last pretty much as long as the player is stubborn. This quickly becomes hilarious as the music just keeps repeating and repeating while Wander strains, falls, and sometimes even stumbles end over end, but does not succumb.
  • Player Punch:
    • The death scene of each colossus is accompanied by the same melancholy tune, which more than once leaves players questioning whether all this killing is really worth it.
    • A more unexpected one comes near the end when Agro falls into a ravine while throwing you to safety. Even though she survived, this isn't revealed until shortly before the credits roll.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Given the ambiguity of the plot, everyone but Agro, who mostly avoids it because, you know. She's a horse. See also Draco in Leather Pants.
    • Despite his only known motives being trying to bring Mono back, many fans tend to paint Wander in a darker light. Common interpretations include being a Stalker with a Crush who Mono doesn't even know, an all around Jerkass to everyone but Agro, and anywhere and everywhere in between. While some say him stealing the sword from Emon points to this, as said above, the situation is too ambiguous to really say.
    • On the other side of things, it's not totally clear what if anything Lord Emon had to do with sacrificing Mono. His most stringent detractors tend to portray him as a close-minded Sinister Minister who either killed her himself or ordered her killed, as well as him being at best misguided about Dormin's nature and at worst a zealot persecuting a rival religion's god.
    • Dormin themself has ambiguous morality, and their detractors tend to play up their demonic aspects while downplaying any signs of fair play with Wander or of simply having a different but not necessarily evil set of values from the mortal characters.
    • Even Mono gets this from some quarters despite being dead most of the game, because of the theory that she eventually became the villain of ICO. Knock on theories tend to at best portray her as the victim of some kind of corruption or curse post-game (or even pre-game if her "cursed fate" was to become the Queen of the Castle in the Mist), and at worst as having been an unpleasant person in the first place.
  • Sacred Cow: Due to the clear Doing It for the Art nature of the game. When the developers from BluePoint discussed the PS4 remake, they made it clear they knew they wouldn't be able to please everyone.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Agro has decent pathfinding AI that is absolutely vital for one battle and can be very helpful elsewhere, and she generally avoids danger by moving out of the way well ahead of time. The trade-off is that she does not always follow orders, will stop short if a player's chosen direction would result in a collision, and tends to go very slowly on narrow paths. Some players are okay with this and feel that the advantages outweigh the drawbacks, while others find this very difficult to get used to and wish she behaved more like a car or bike. Though pretty much everyone admits that it may be better to take a longer route than try to guide her through trees.
    • The way Colossi shake can make certain battles feel rather tedious. While it does make sense, the fact that Wander tends to slip and fall over every single small step the Colossi take can make attacking the weak points next to impossible. It's especially annoying when it happens just as Wander is about to stab, rendering the charge up for it pointless. Barba, in particular, is one of the worst offenders of this. Even worse, this ends up happening more frequently in the PS3 remastered version thanks to the increased framerate, making certain time attack battles a Luck-Based Mission in the process.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Agro falling to her (presumed) death from the collapsing bridge on the way to Malus.
    • Mono, Agro and the baby Wander in the secret garden encountering a deer before watching the hawk that would follow Wander around throughout the adventure fly away from the Forbidden Lands while the credits music plays. If not for Shadow of the Colossus, then for 'art' games as a whole, as it's regarded as the moment video games evolved from just being games to being an experience in their own right.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Thematically the game feels very much like a video game version of Dororo. There were even originally going to be 48 colossi, just like the 48 demons in Dororo.
  • That One Sidequest: Well, this is pretty much the only one, but still, reaching the secret garden will take you a long time. The climbing course isn't particularly difficult in itself, but you will have to make your grip gauge grow out of the screen if you don't want to fall to your death midway up. Be prepared to make two or three playthroughs and hunt down a lot of lizards for that.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: While no one is going to deny that the PS4 version looks absolutely stunning, the switch to more realistic shaders, the toning down on the bloom and the extremely detailed grass added everywhere has caused the Forbidden Lands to lose a lot of its mystical, otherworldly abandoned wasteland wonderment the original version had. The updated character models are another point of contention; in an attempt to make the characters look more realistic, many complain that the new models just make the characters look like they haven't lost the baby fat in their faces yet, with Wander himself falling into the Unintentional Uncanny Valley for many people. The PS4 remake does come with a set of filters that allow the player to recreate the green foggy atmosphere of the original, at the very least.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Most players assume Agro to be a stallion, perhaps for how heavily built the horse is, but Word of God is that the designers consider her a mare.
    • Wander is sometimes mistaken for a woman, thanks to his delicate hair style, headband, and skirt-like outfit; as well as due to the fact that the manual for the European version of the game mistransliterated his name as "Wanda".