The game's storyline focuses on a young man named Wander who enters a forbidden land. Wander must travel across a vast expanse on horseback and defeat sixteen massive beings, known simply as colossi, in order to restore the life of a girl named Mono. The game is unusual within the action-adventure genre in that there are no towns or dungeons to explore, no characters with whom to interact, and no enemies to defeat other than the colossi. Shadow of the Colossus has been described as a puzzle game, as each colossus' weakness must be identified and exploited before it can be defeated.
The HD version was released separately in Japan. A remake of the game with ultra-high definition art assets is currently in development and scheduled for release on the PlayStation 4 in 6 Feb 2018.
Progression through Shadow of the Colossus occurs in cycles. Beginning at a central point in an expansive landscape, the player seeks out and defeats a colossus, and is then returned to the central point to repeat the process. To find each colossus, Wander may raise his sword while in a sunlit area to reflect beams of light, which will converge when the sword is pointed in the right direction of the next encounter. The journey to a colossus is seldom a straightforward matter: stretches of varied terrain often require that a detour be taken along the way. Most colossi are located in remote areas, such as atop cliffs or within ancient structures.
Once a colossus is found, the player must discover its weaknesses to defeat it. Each colossus dwells in a unique lair, and many colossi cannot be defeated without making use of the surrounding environment. Every colossus has at least one weak point, indicated by a glowing sigil that can be illuminated and identified by the sword's reflected light. Each colossus has areas covered with fur or protruding ledges, which Wander may use to grip and scale the colossus while it thrashes about in an attempt to dislodge him. While scaling a colossus, the player must act quickly, as Wander has a limited stamina gauge that decreases while he hangs onto the creature.
Wander and the colossi have life bars to indicate their remaining health. A colossus' health will decrease significantly when its weak points are attacked, while Wander can be harmed by a colossus' attacks or a fall from great height. Throughout the game, Wander is equipped with only a sword and a bow with arrows, but may obtain other weapons from completing the Time Attack trials.
While the colossi are the only enemies, there are natural animals in the environment. Only one species, however, has any effect on gameplay: eating the tail of a certain kind of lizard increases Wander's stamina gauge. Likewise, the player may find fruit that increases Wander's maximum health.
Wander's horse, Agro, plays a large role in the game. In addition to serving as a means of transportation, fighting from horseback is vital to defeat some of the colossi. There are, however, many environments that cannot be traversed by horse, and colossi often inhabit areas within deep water or beyond large obstacles that must be scaled. Agro cannot travel beyond these, and when separated from Wander by such obstacles, cannot participate in the following battle. Agro is referred to as a male in the English-language version of the game, though director Fumito Ueda said that he saw Wander's horse as female.
The environment must be used to the player's advantage more often as the game progresses. The first two battles take place on simple, large, flat areas of land, with the only goal being to discover how to scale the colossi and attack their weak points. However, the majority of the following fourteen battles require that some aspect of the battlefield be used.
💎 Developer: SIE Japan Studio - Team Ico
💎 Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
💎 Director: Fumito Ueda
💎 Producer: Kenji Kaido
💎 Composer: Kow Otani
💎 Genre: Action-adventure
💎 Platform: PS2 - PS3 - PS4
💎 Mode: Single-player