February 2018 featured a strange mix of video game releases. Kingdom Come: Deliverance took advantage of the slow month, allowing the game to achieve a widespread level of exposure. Metal Gear: Survive’s extra character slot controversy ensured that Konami’s first game in the series following Hideo Kojima’s departure would be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Joining the relatively bare slate of new games were numerous remasters and re-releases that ranged from the indie darling Owlboy to revised titles like Bayonetta 1 and 2. Yet looming over every one of these games is the towering return of one of gaming’s most important titles: Shadow of the Colossus.
First released in 2005, Shadow of the Colossus received near-universal acclaim, quickly establishing not just a devoted following, but an enduring legacy as one of the best examples of video games as an art form. And yet, on the PlayStation 2’s limited, standard-definition, RCA cable-using hardware, it was hard not to think that the game should have looked more impressive. Or at least that it should run at higher than 10 frames per second. Bluepoint Game’s incredible recreation of the Forbidden Kingdom and its imposing denizens realizes the utter majesty the PS2 could only hint towards. The titular colossi move with a smooth, halting, and unnerving kind of grace that makes slaying them feel like an entirely new experience even if you’ve done it dozens of times before. This remaster almost feels like a whole new game, and there’s a good reason for that.
You would think that, given the game’s massive critical acclaim, somebody would have tried to make a game like Shadow of the Colossus. After much consideration, however, we couldn’t think of a single game like it from the past thirteen years. Sure there are indie games populated singularly with epic boss fights and games that make use of vast empty space in a game world, but there’s still nothing that feels like Shadow. Nothing that reaches the same scale or is as ambitious in subtly weaving story into gameplay. This means that Shadow of the Colossus feels just as fresh and invigorating to play thirteen years after its initial release. Amongst the massive swath of modern games, it is still a wholly original, evocative work. Shadow of the Colossus was so ahead in the race in 2005 that it lapped the entire industry, sat down at the finish line, and waited thirteen years for everyone else to get kind of close. Now it’s running a victory lap for fun.
The best thing to come from Shadow of the Colossus’ remaster is the opportunity for new gamers and those who missed out the first time around to experience Team Ico’s masterpiece. It’s rare for this kind of game to receive such a faithful and gorgeous restoration, and even rarer for the game to feel just as relevant as when it first released. Remasters are often great for revisiting nostalgia. Rarely, if ever, do they feel equally at home in the modern gaming landscape. Shadow of the Colossus does. It’s the kind of game that only comes around once in a generation. And we’re glad that it returned for this one. For breathing fresh life into a legendary game, giving new players a chance to experience the classic journey, and feeling more original than nearly every game released in the past decade, we proudly award Shadow of the Colossus our February Game of the Month.