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Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus / PlayStation 2
editor score 8.7
user score 6.3
Release Date







Team Ico


Sony Computer Entertainment Australia


Developer Team Ico brings another fantastical tale of courage, trust, and mystery. This videogame epic is often used as an example of how videogames can become an art form. Shadow of the Colossus puts players in the shoes of the Wander, a young man seeking to revive his love, Mono. His journey will pit him against sixteen massive enemies, wielding only his sword, bow and wits.

Shadow of the Colossus takes a unique approach to the adventure, puzzle, and platforming genres by blending their elements in ways no game has before. One particular difference Shadow of the Colossus has from other games is that it is, for the most part, only a series of boss fights. These boss fights, the battles against the colossi, make up much of the gameplay. The style of these boss fights could be classified as a number of gameplay types, and some have even suggested they are puzzles.

Shadow of the Colossus is an exclusive title for the PlayStation 2, however the game is set to be released for the PlayStation 3 along with ICO in a two game collection.


Wander journeys to revive Mono
Wander journeys to revive Mono

As the story begins, we see the Wander closing into a forbidden land, riding his faithful horse, Agro, and carrying a body wrapped in a cloak. As he approaches the huge Shrine of Worship at the center of the land, he lays the body upon the altar. As the cloak is removed, the body is revealed to be that of a young beautiful maiden named Mono.

Suddenly, a number of ancient shadow like creatures attempt to attack the Wander, but they quickly back off upon drawing an ancient sword he keeps in his possession. Soon after, an ethereal voice is heard, that of Dormin, a bodiless entity who appears surprised that Wander owns the sword. Wander begs Dormin to grant Mono her soul back to her but Dormin says he will need something from Wander. Dormin explains that Mono's soul can only return to her body if Wander traverses the land that he has entered and seeks out sixteen Colossi that lie hidden throughout the land, and slay them, an act which can only be achieved by using the very sword the Wander owns.

He quickly agrees to take on this task, but Dormin warns him that he may need to pay a great penalty in return for Mono receiving her soul once more, but this does not hinder Wander, who immediately sets out to follow his sword and find the sixteen Colossi.

Throughout the course of the tale, and with the death of each Colossus, Wanders physical appearance appears more distorted and depleted. He grows paler, with darker hair and he appears to grow small horns on his head. On the contrary, Mono's body appears stronger with each Colossus killed, and her voice becomes heard briefly throughout the game.

With the death of the Twelfth Colossus under his belt, Wander learns that he is being trailed by a shaman, Lord Emon, who leads a group of warriors.

As Wander proceeds, he finds himself hurried by Dormin to conquer the final sixteenth beast. On his way to the final Colossus, Wander travels by horseback over a long stone bridge, that begins to collapse soon after setting foot upon it. Agro, sensing the danger, reaches the end and suddenly bucks Wander off, who lands safely, whilst Agro collapses along with the bridge.

Wander looks upon his next challenge.
Wander looks upon his next challenge.

As Wander defeats the last of the Colossus, Lord Emon and his gang of warriors appear in the Shrine of Worship as the last of all the idols representing the Colossi crumbles to the ground. Soon after, Wander appears in the temple, with his eyes and skin entirely pale and his head showing two protruding horns. As Wander struggles to reach to Mono, Lord Emon declares Wander to be 'possessed' and a warrior shoots him in his leg with a crossbow. Another warrior stabs hims with his sword through the chest. As Wander crumples to the ground, his blood sprays black and he falls in a very similar fashion to the sixteen Colossi he had just slain.

Immediately, Dormin's soul possesses the Wanders body in the form of a shadowy giant and explains that his own soul was cast from his body to limit his power. As Emon's men flee, Emon himself grasps the ancient sword and turns to the back of the shrine and casts the sword into a pool of water near the back. An absurd light is suddenly emitted and as Emon and his men flee, the light consumes both Dormin and Wander. Emon and his men run across the bridge connecting the Shrine of Worship away from the forbidden land as it begins to collapse. As Emon and his men arrive safely at the Forbidden Lands exit, Emon ponders Wanders fate, hoping that one day he will be able to atone for his actions.

Meanwhile, Mono awakens from her sleep due to the deal made between Dormin and Wander. As Agro wanders into the temple, with an injured hind leg, Mono follows him towards the back of the Shrine towards the pool of water, where Emon drew Dormin and Wander. There they find an infant, with two horns on his head. As the horse leads onwards and upwards, Mono follows with the infant to the top of the shrine, where a secret garden lies, overlooking the forbidden lands as the game ends.


One of the many massive colossi the Wander must face
One of the many massive colossi the Wander must face

In Shadow of the Colossus, the basic premise is this: Track down the 16 colossi located throughout the world and kill them. However, the game is unique in that the vast world is vacant and void of any living things, except for the colossi you'll be hunting, meaning that these will be the only battles you will encounter. What makes Shadow of the Colossus unique is not finding ways to use new items, rather, it is finding new ways to use items you already have.


In keeping with the relatively simple and minimalist feel of everything else, you'll have only two weapons throughout the course of the game: a sword and a bow.

  • You'll be using Wander's sword a lot throughout the course of the game to track down the colossi, and to, of course, kill them. This game features much stabbing action.
  • The bow is much less a weapon as it is a tool. You'll find that arrows are largely ineffective against the colossi, but will attract their attention to you. Wander carries unlimited arrows.
  • Although players will not find any new weapons in their journey, it is possible for them to collect new items and upgrades by defeating the game's massive bosses again in a Time Attack mode. These new items range from cloak that functions as a parachute to a whistling arrow capable of attracting the attention of the colossi to a nod to the predecessor of Shadow of the Colossus with the inclusion of the Queen's Sword from Ico.

The Horse

Agro proves to be a loyal friend over the course of the game
Agro proves to be a loyal friend over the course of the game

Luckily for Wander, he's joined by Agro, his horse and sole companion on this adventure. By riding the horse, not only does it help you get around quickly, but gives you increased mobility when needed -- such as during fights with the colossi. Many colossi require Agro's assistance to take down, whether it be to mount the colossus, or simply keep a step ahead. When riding Agro, you are able to use your bow and aim independently of the horse's direction, even firing arrows directly behind you if needed. You can also perform certain tricks and stunts, such as standing on top of the horse, hanging down to the side, or even jumping off at full speed -- propelling you to those places just out of reach.

One aspect that makes Agro unique is how alive he seems to the player. He will only go at the pace Wander makes him, he gets spooked by colossi and loud noises, and he often navigates away from ledges on his own.

For a character who never speaks a word, many gamers felt very emotionally attached to Agro.


Before you fight the colossi, you'll first need to track them down. Thankfully this is made simple by Wander's magical sword. When standing in sunlight, pressing and holding the circle button will result in him raising his sword towards the sky. A beam of light emanating from the tip will then point directly to the colossi you're hunting. It is then up to the player to navigate their way through the landscape towards their destination.

The Colossi

Taking down all 16 colossi won't be easy
Taking down all 16 colossi won't be easy

Once successfully finding these colossi, your next goal -- take them down! As fearsome as these look, they do have weak points -- which can be easily found by raising your sword. However, the challenge lies in actually reaching these areas. There are 16 battles in total, all epic in scale, but each of the colossi has a unique weakness which will need to be exploited in order to reach and attack its weak point. The player must figure out how to get on the colossus, and often must get its attention by whistling or shooting at it with the bow. Eventually you will be able to climb atop each beast, clinging to their fur as they try to throw you off, and once reaching each weak point, Wander will prepare his sword and gain strength by pressing or holding the square button. Upon a second a button press (or release if you held it), the sword will be plunged into the colossi for massive damage, resulting in a fountain of black blood. By attacking the often-multiple weak points, it will eventually succumb to your efforts. Each battle could be considered a puzzle, and players will need to use their wits, the surrounding environment, and in some cases -- their horse, in order to achieve victory.

Rumors of a 17th Colossus

Despite the rumors about a 17th Colossus being in the game, it has been proven that no such extra colossus exists. There are many people who have searched the whole land extensively and not been able to find anything, but it was proven when the die-hard fans hacked the game code and revealed to their own disappointment that the game contained no links to another colossus.

The Grip System

The HUD, in the bottom right corner
The HUD, in the bottom right corner

By holding the R1 button, Wander will grab onto what ever he can -- ledges, fur of the colossi, even fish and birds -- and be able to move around whilst doing so in most cases. However, he won't be able to hold on indefinitely. As Wander climbs about, or struggles to hold on to a thrashing Colossi, he will steadily lose his grip. This is represented as a pink circle in the bottom right-corner of

the screen, and as grip deteriorates and the circle will slowly drain. When entirely depleted, Wander will then let go and fall. Thankfully, grip naturally regenerates when you're not holding on to anything, and so as the player you will need to pick choice moments during fights in which to regain your grip before continuing on. A similar "grip" system is used while swimming. The grip meter slowly increases in size over the game, growing after defeating each Colossus.


Like so many other games, Wander has a gauge representing his health In Shadow of the Colossus, this gauge takes the form of a red bar at the bottom of the screen, which depletes as Wander takes damage. Falling or being stepped on are easy ways to hurt yourself. Wander will slowly regain health as time passes, but he can also crouch or pat Agro which will speed up the regeneration. By gathering fruit, the player can increase Wander's health.

List of Colossi

First a description of sorts is given, then the proper name of the creature, and finally the Latin name.

(Click for a link to their individual GB pages.)

Concept art of the first colossus
Concept art of the first colossus

1. The Minotaur ("Valus", "Minotaurus Colossus)

2. Taurus Major ("Quadratus", "Taurus Magnus"

3. Earth Knight ("Gaius", "Terrestris Veritas")

4. Equus Prime ("Phaedra", "Equus Bellator Apex")

5. Delta Phoenix ("Avion", "Avis Praeda")

6. The Goliath ("Barba", Belua Maximus")

7. Sea Dragon ("Hydrus", Draco Marinus")

8. Wall Shadow ("Kuromori", "Parietinae Umbra")

9. Storm Echo ("Basaran", "Nimbus Recanto")

10. Sand Tiger ("Dirge", "Harena Tigris")

11. Flame Guardian ("Celosia", "Ignis Excubitor")

12. Great Basilisk ("Pelagia", "Permagnus Pistrix")

The Second Colossus
The Second Colossus

13. Trail Drifter ("Phalanx", "Aeris Velivolus")

14. Destruction Luster ("Cenobia", "Clades Candor")

15. The Sentinel ("Argus", "Praesidium Vigilo")

16. Grand Gigas ("Malus", Grandis Supernus")


Time Attack Mode

The Thirteenth Colossus
The Thirteenth Colossus

After completion of the game, time attack mode is unlocked and can be accessed on your second playthrough of the game. By defeating the colossi under a certain time limit, special items can be won to help you on your quest.

The Secret Garden

The secret garden is a hidden area located near the top of the castle, and is accessed by climbing up the side of the castle. However, the ascent is long and only veteran players will be able to reach this area due to the high level of grip required to reach the top successfully. Although there isn't much to do here, the fruit in the garden will decrease your health and grip meter when eaten. Reaching the secret garden is truly a great feat, one which will impress friends, family, and lovers for years to come.

Increasing your grip and health meters

Shedding some light on the path
Shedding some light on the path

Although your grip naturally increases after subsequent boss battles it is possible for players to manually increase this. After spotting one of the special lizards located throughout the world that have a white tail, the lizard can be attacked with the sword, while the tail itself can be detached from the body with a well-aimed arrow. Wander can then consume the tail with the circle button, increasing his grip slightly.

In a similar manner, players can increase Wander's health by locating the fruit trees dotted throughout the landscape. Fruit can be picked off using the bow, and then eaten off of the ground to increase your maximum health slightly.

Relation to ICO

Ico and Yorda
Ico and Yorda

Shadow of the Colossus is considered by many to be set in the same universe as ICO -- Team ICO's previous game -- and is seen as a prequel. There is much speculation regarding the story elements connecting the two since much is implied yet not explicitly stated.

Several connections can be made between the two games, with the most clear cut one being the presence of horns on both the characters. Although Ico is seemingly born with the horns, Wander develops them through the course of the story, and so It is widely believed that he is an early ancestor to Ico. This is in line with the story line of "Ico." The sorceress -- seen during the game and at its conclusion -- uses the sacrifices of the horned children as the source of her power and physical longevity which makes sense considering their lineage. They are descendants of Wander -- one infused with the spirit of a God. Yorda, the girl to be sacrificed in "Ico," also shares stark visual similarities with Mono from SotC, along with the nature of their thwarted sacrifices. The two stories are also connected by the same thread of beauty, elegance and mystery.


  • Shadow of the Colossus was called "Nico" while in development. This is a combination of "Ni", the Japanese word for "two" and "Ico", a previous game from this developer. This lead to fan speculation that it would indeed be a direct sequel to the cult-hit ICO.
  • The game was featured in a movie called Reign Over Me, which starred Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle. Shadow of the Colossus was chosen to appear in the film because of the falling colossi's resemblance to the falling of the Twin Towers in New York -- a key concept in the movie.
  • The game was originally devolved as a Co-op game where up to 4 players would work together on taking down a Colossus and was at the time still in the development name "Nico."


Soundtrack Cover art
Soundtrack Cover art

This album was composed by Kow Otani and released in Japan by King Records on December 7, 2005.

Shadow of the Colossus Original Soundtrack: Roar of the Earth

Total length: 75:49

1. Prologue -To The Ancient Land-

2. Prohibited Art

3. Commandment

4. Black Blood

5. Resurrection

6. Sign of the Colossus

7. Grotesque Figures

8. The Opened Way

9. The End of the Battle

10. Idol Collapse

11. Green Hills

12. A Violent Encounter

13. Revived Power

14. Lakeside

15. [Silence]

16. In Awe of the Power

17. Wander's Death

18. The Farthest Land

19. Creeping Shadow

20. A Messenger From Behind

21. Counterattack

22. Sky Burial

23. A Closed-Off City

24. A Liberated Guardian

25. A Despair-Filled Farewell

26. Prayer

27. Swift Horse

28. Gate Watcher of the Castle Ruins

29. Sanctuary

30. Demise of the Ritual

31. A Pursuer

32. Premonition of Revival

33. Epilogue

34. Hope

35. The Sunlit Earth

36. Memories

37. Wilderness

38. Voice of the Earth

39. Marshlands

40. Anger

41. Final Battle

42. The Farthest Land (Reprise)