15 Years On, The Lonely Legacy Of 'Shadow Of The Colossus'

Fumito Ueda's moody video game about a young hero wandering a landscape empty of everything except for 16 towering giants originally came out in 2005 — but its loneliness speaks to today's gamers.
This image from the 2018 remake of Shadow of the Colossus emphasizes the lonely nature of its landscape. Source: Soin Interactive Entertainment

The first time the player is given control of Wander, the young and androgynous-looking protagonist of Shadow of the Colossus, they are confronted with a vast and unfamiliar landscape bathed in a cold yellow sun. Towering cliffs lie in the distance, while a rocky ridge cuts through the scrubby middle-ground. New players won't know it yet, but this place, referred to as the Forbidden Lands, is empty — except for 16 towering giants and a smattering of wildlife. Over the course of the next ten hours, they will empty it further, slowly felling each of the colossi as part of a mystical pact to revive a lifeless young woman. Death becomes life, but the world here is left a little quieter.

is the second of three melancholic video games directed by acclaimed Japanese game maker Fumito Ueda. It's rare to find such quiet sadness in a video game, even rarer in a trio. Ueda's, told the story of a young boy trying to help a child princess called Yorda escape from a magical ruinous castle. His third, 2016's , focused on the relationship between another pre-pubescent protagonist and a giant creature called Trico. Sandwiched between these two games is the notably darker , what Ueda as his "own take on cruelty," a rumination on the violent actions many games ask players to perpetuate.

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