Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are both action-adventure games that are played in the third-person perspective. In Ico, you play as a young boy who is trying to escape a huge castle with a strange girl he found in the castle. In Shadow of the Colossus, you play as a young man who must slay sixteen colossi in order to resurrect a girl he loves. Now, Shadow of the Colossus is very unique. The sixteen colossi are the only enemies in the game. There aren’t any weak enemies to slow you down. You just go from one boss to another. This makes for a very exciting game.
While Ico is more focused on puzzles than combat, Shadow of the Colossus is more focused on combat than puzzles. In Ico, you have to solve puzzles while defending the girl from shadow monsters. In Shadow of the Colossus, you have to kill giant colossi by using puzzle-like mechanics to find the colossus’s weak points. Both games do an excellent job of integrating combat, platforming, and puzzles to get a great balance of gameplay. That being said, the gameplay in both games has not aged very well. The camera in both games really struggles to keep up with the action at times. This is by no means a game breaker, but it can take some getting used to. Also, these are extremely realistic games. Your character in both games takes hits like a real person. If a shadow monster hits you in Ico, it will take the boy a few seconds to get up. If a colossus hits you directly in Shadow of the Colossus, it will take the young man a little bit to get up. These aren’t necessarily flaws, but going from most current games to this is a big change.
Team Ico tells stories in a way that no one else can. Few words are spoken in either Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, and yet they have powerful stories. Ico is about friendship, and two relatively weak people overcoming big obstacles. At the start of Ico, Ico (the boy) is about to be sacrificed. He is locked up in a weird container, and must escape or he’ll die. Yorda (the girl) is locked in a cage, and needs to be rescued. She also has to deal with her murderous mother who is trying to catch her. These two characters bonding through unusual circumstances makes for an unlikely duo. This duo barely talks at all, because they speak different languages. However, they speak through their actions, not their words. This makes Ico a very inspirational game.
Shadow of the Colossus is about a young man named Wander, who just lost the love of his life, Mono. Wander takes her body to the god Dormin, because Dormin has the power to resurrect her. Dormin will raise Mono from the dead if Wander defeats sixteen colossi that are scattered throughout the land.
As I said earlier, few words are spoken in Shadow of the Colossus. Except for Dormin, the characters names aren’t even mentioned! If you just played the game without going online, you would never even know either Wander’s or Mono’s name. Wander is a pretty quiet guy. He goes from one colossus to the next without saying much. When you play the game, you expect all of the colossi to be angry monsters that just want to kill you. This isn’t the case at all. Some of the colossi don’t even want to kill you. They just want to be left alone. This makes Shadow of the Colossus a very powerful game. Wander will stop at nothing to revive Mono, even if he has to kill innocent and (seemingly) harmless creatures.
There’s one very important character that I have not mentioned yet, Agro, Wander’s horse. Agro is just the vehicle for most of the game. He helps Wander get to colossi quickly, and he helps him defeat a few of them too. As the game goes on, Agro becomes more than just a vehicle. He becomes Wander’s best friend. The bond they share really carries the story until the end of the game.
The end of Shadow of the Colossus is just incredible. There really isn’t anything else like it. The ending makes it more of an art than just a game. The ending is just art in its purest form. It really is a beautiful thing. It has every single human emotion in just five minutes. I’ll stop talking so I don’t spoil anything, but the ending is just beautiful.
For the most part, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus look good, but not great. That being said, parts of Ico look pretty sharp. The ways the sun hits the grass look really good. The character models don’t look amazing, but they’re more than good enough to get the job done. Ico is definitely the better looking game in this collection. Shadow of the Colossus just doesn’t look very good most of the time. Far away objects constantly pop in and out. This makes for a rather choppy frame rate at times. However, the colossi look just as impressive as ever. There are few things as breath-taking as fighting a boss that is more than ten times as big as you. Even though neither of these games looks amazing, the graphics don’t hold either’s greatness back.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have very different styles of sound. While Ico mainly just has “nature” music in the background, Shadow of the Colossus has an absolutely epic soundtrack. Each game’s music fits perfectly with the gameplay. Ico features two characters who can’t even talk to each other. Nature music playing in the background fits perfectly with it. Shadow of the Colossus features a character who has to kill sixteen colossi. The epic music is the perfect complement to the gameplay. Shadow of the Colossus has one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. It does everything video game music should do. It makes the gameplay even more exciting, without being distracting.
The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection is a collection that every PS3 owner should own. Even though parts of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus haven’t aged well, these games are still definitely worth buying. You don’t just play these games, you experience them.