Monday, November 29, 2010

Colossal Art


Everyone loves movies. Movies are great, right? Well, I love movies just as much as the next guy. (Probably a little bit more actually.) But what I'm particularly fond of are those crazy artistic movies. (Pink Floyd: The Wall) What I mean is that I love movies that can be considered pieces of art, whether it be by the visual effects, a well constructed plot, or even the music; I love movies that capture the imagination and can be considered a true form of art. (Across the Universe, Seven Samurai, etc.)

What a lot of people don't realize is that a video game is just as capable of having as much artistic value as a Hollywood blockbuster. (Yes, I'm blogging about video games. First time since Final Fantasy XIII.(Which was back in MARCH.))

Like most people in this crowded world, I once shared the idea that video games were nothing more than a useful pass-time where one had the ability to put a chainsaw into another persons face and get away with it; and like most people, I did not realize that a video game could be so much more.

In fact, I didn't even acknowledge this possibility until I came across a game by the title, "Shadow of the Colossus."

The exact date was March 15th, 2005... just kidding. I don't remember when it was. But seriously, the date was sometime around March in the year 2005... that's what I remember at least. I could be wrong. I have a memory made out of poo, so I'm usually wrong about this crap.

Anyways... so yes. I was just a poor little boy at Wal-Mart looking at a television when they suddenly showed this trailer of some guy riding a horse, and fighting a giant bear-like monster that was made out of stone. It looked awesome, and to make it even better looking, it was a video game! (As a child, I played more video games than you would ever think humanly possible.)

So there was this video game on the television screen, and it looked awesome. Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, the game was called, "Shadow of the Colossus." And when I got home that day the first thing I did was get online and look up the game so I could show it to my older sister, Jackie.
.. well, I did show it to Jackie; but she didn't have any interest in the game. She claimed that the game looked out-dated, and appeared like it was pointless. "Jackie," I said,"There are giant monster-things that you can kill with a sword, and you can ride a horse! Who cares?!" But despite my efforts, she still didn't seem convinced.

I had eventually forgotten about the game until my brother, Chris, rented it. From the moment I played that game I have had a respect for it. The game demands that you respect it's artistic style and vision of a lost forgotten world. The opening title alone was enough to have me instantly glued to my seat. Check it out:



The cinematic appeal is the first thing that caught my attention. Next, the breath taking soundtrack and artistic visuals. But what really caught my attention was the game's plot.

To start things off, the game's plot features about twenty sentences of spoken dialogue... in other words, there's next to no talking from the characters, and when there actually is some dialogue it's in some strange language from the world of the game. Not only is this awesome, but it creates a sense of full immersion into the game's unbelievably believable world. (Yeah, that was worded funny...)

The actual plot of the video game is one of a kind. It sounds kind of a like a creepy old classic piece of literature. The protagonist is a young man. His name is unknown, but he's credited as "Wander." His mission is simple. He must carry the body of a dead woman (Implied to be his long lost love.) to a forbidden land of curses where he must meet the deity, Dormin, and then beg him to bring her back from the dead. Wander is desperate to bring her back to life. His connection with the dead girl, Mono, is never revealed but it is heavily implied that he loved her. (Why else would he travel to the end of the world?) But we do know that she died an early and unfair death. With no one at his side but his trusty steed, Agro, and of course, the dead chick, Wander breaks all bonds with his society and does the most abominable thing that one could ever do... enter the forbidden lands.
But what lies in these forbidden lands? Nothing but an old temple and the spirit of a once great being, Dormin. Legend tells of the deity Dormin, and it's power of being able to bring back loved ones from the dead. Desperate for his lost lover to return, Wander asks Dormin if it is possible to revive Mono.

The entrance into the forbidden land features a remarkably huge bridge that leads into an ancient temple where the diety, Dormin dwells. Legend tells that Dormin holds the power to bring one back from the dead.

Luckily for Wander, Dormin promises to revive Mono; but under one request... one very large, colossal, if you will, request. (Pun intended.)

In exchange for her return, Wander must wander the cursed land and slay sixteen colossal beasts. The purposes of this request are unknown, but Wander is willing to do anything to bring back his lost love...

Wander embraces the dead body of his lost love, Mono.

If Wander succeeds in slaying the sixteen beasts, then Dormin promises to revive Mono. The game then sets you on a fools errand of running around a gorgeous and lifeless land in order to revive your lost love. And this is one of the things that makes Shadow of the Colossus such a great game. It's the fact that you really are just wandering around a barren wasteland the entire game. The game rarely features anything exciting. The only time anything really happens is when you're fighting one of the Colossus. There's never anyone with you, except for Agro. It's kind of strange to say that you really do begin to form a sort of emotional bond with the horse, as he's the only friend that you have.


As you progress in the game you begin to form a bond with your horse Agro, as he is the only friend that you have as you journey from each Colossus. He's endures all of the incredible battles with you, as he's always by your side...

You may find this hard to believe since this is after all, a video game. And video games are for entertainment and mindless fun, right? Well, Shadow of the Colossus challenges that idea. And after you slay the first Colossus, you realize that this is a little bit more than a video game. I had never played a video game that actually toyed with my emotions until I had played Shadow of the Colossus. There's almost this strange feeling of regret after you slay each Colossus. As I progressed throughout the game I began to wonder if slaying these magnificently huge beasts was really worth just one life.

I've never played a game before or since that has actually made me question my purpose in the game. But Shadow of the Colossus brilliantly challenges it's own themes and plots, and contains deep themes of life and death that still baffle me to this day.

Wander carries the body of Mono.

Wander inside of the Temple of Dormin. Mono lies on the strange alter on the left.

The game has other strange themes on life that I do not fully understand myself. The game feels almost like a giant metaphor on life and death. I would further expand on this subject, but I would not want to ruin the games ending for those who have never played or finished the game.

Something strange that I've noticed in the game is that after each Colossus that you slay, Wander begins to deform and look less and less like a human. It's almost like as he slays more and more Colossus he begins dehumanize more and more until he no longer even represents a human. Like I said in the previous paragraph, I would expand on this more, but spoilers prevent me.

Wander witnesses the dehumanizing effects of going against his world's beliefs by slaying the Colossus and entering the forbidden land.

Shadow of the Colossus is a beautiful game, and is definitely one of the greatest games ever made. I wish I could do it justice by talking about it, but it's difficult to do without revealing the spoilers. This is a game that has forever changed how I look at video games. If there ever was a video game that could be considered a work of art, then I believe that Shadow of the Colossus is the one that proves this. The intricate plot, and incredible visuals are already enough to make it a work of art, but the game doesn't stop there as it is one of the only games that actually features strong mature values on life and death. I think you could actually learn something about life by playing this game.

I'm not the only one praising this game of course. Mega gaming corporation, IGN, named the game the greatest game on the PS2, AND the best game of the decade. This game is simply gaming at it's absolute best.

Shadow of the Colossus has some of the most epic and best boss fights of all time.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who has a love of art, or just games. If you haven't played Shadow of the Colossus:

A. You can't call yourself a gamer.
B. You haven't fought 16 of the greatest bosses in gaming history.
C. You suck. (Not really.)

There is also a sequel to Shadow of the Colossus, entitled ICO. I might blog about this later, when the newest sequel, The Last Guardian comes out in late 2011. I just changed my mind... I will definitely be blogging about these games again in 2011.



I want to quickly apologize to those who read my blog. I haven't updated in a while, and that's most been due to my busy schedule, and the fact that I haven't really had much to blog about. But expect more updates soon!!! Thanks to everyone who read this ridiculously nerdy post. Love all of ya!