Reviews are in and Shadow of the Colossus PS4 remake is currently the highest scoring game of 2018. Bluepoint didn’t get here by throwing together a half-hearted rebuild. They faithfully remade Shadow of the Colossus using the core vision of the original 2005 game’s team. To maintain authenticity, the PS4 game even runs on the old PS2 code, which shows just how technically advanced Shadow of the Colossus was when it originally came out.
Of course, Bluepoint also made a few small changes to account for modern conveniences and the way that games have evolved over the last decade. Everything they did still fits with the overall vision of what Shadow of the Colossus is, so it wouldn’t be out of step to fail to notice these minor improvements that Bluepoint made.
Aiming the Bow
When you aim with the bow, the original game would turn the camera to match Wander’s facing direction. The PS4 remake now shifts Wander to look where the camera is aiming. The new aiming mechanics also apply to shining the sword. In addition, tweaks were made to smooth the aiming for more precise input that helps players not overshoot targets as often.
Getting on your horse used to be a trial nearly as difficult as climbing one of the colossi. You can now approach Agro from almost any angle and Wander will best figure out how to get on when the mount button is pressed. If Agro is running past you, simply hold triangle to have Wander grab on and swing himself up into the saddly, Legolas style.
Agro will now indicate when his speed is maxed out and no additional button presses are necessary, so you don’t have to keep mashing the button to speed up. (I do anyway. Bad gaming habit.) Agro also has better pathfinding, which should make for less instances of getting stuck on rocks, trees, walls, and more rocks.
The water colossi can be some of the most painful simply because water traversal is so slow. Bluepoint sped up Wander’s swimming underwater as long as he’s swimming in a straight line.
Jumps and Stumbling
In the original game, Wander would stumble anytime he came down from a jump. Bluepoint has tweaked these mechanics, allowing for more instances of Wander not stumbling when he is simply doing a leap. Full duration jumps and falls to a lower elevation will still result in a stumble upon landing. Bluepoint says that these changes add “fluidity and purpose” to Wander’s movement.
Bluepoint improved the input detection for any jumps where Wander has to leap away from the object he’s hanging on. This is crucial in a couple of the colossus fights, and simply makes traversal a little more manageable. They wanted to reduce instances of frustration over jumps that the player felt they should have made.
Quick Weapon Switching
Left on the d-pad cycles through the different arrowheads you’ve unlocked, and right will cycle through the different sword. Tapping up will unequip and re-equip the last weapon held. This change may not come into play until the post-game and subsequent playthroughs (as you probably won’t unlock additional weapons until then), but it’s one that really perks up the replay value.
Streamlining the Save/Load Process
Did you know that the original Shadow of the Colossus didn’t have a “Continue” option on the main menu? Instead you had to manually load your save game when you returned to play. There’s also an autosave function, where the original game made you pray at the Save Shrines scattered around the world. The Save Shrines do still serve a purpose as checkpoints, however, and allow players to load back to that specific location.
Camera and Colossi
Bluepoint made improvements to how the camera follows Wander as he scales the colossi. Specifically they tried to make it do a better job at following Wander’s movements to reduce player frustration as they fight with the camera in addition to a living pile of stone.
In addition to some of the HUD elements being changed (the strength meter no longer grows to be an obnoxiously large circle), you can actually customize the HUD. Move the various elements, such as health bars and other indicators, to certain predetermined positions, or turn off the HUD altogether.
Each of these Shadow of the Colossus PS4 Remake changes is a relatively small thing, but many of them were sticking points in the original game that kept it from being all that it could be. Our memories of a “perfect” Shadow of the Colossus on PS2 is likely to have put many of these issues out of our minds (or maybe they were elements we didn’t even know we wanted at the time), and it’s unlikely that a lot of players will consciously notice these changes. It’s moments like these that we have to remember what God said in Futurama: “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”