Back in the early part of the century in the heady days of the PS2, two games really stood out in terms of graphics and originality, 2002’s Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus, four years later. The good folks at Sony have seen fit to release both of Fumito Ueda’s titles in one collection, and perhaps the most surprising thing is that each of Team Ico’s games, cult hits with gamers on their original release, stand up reasonably well on the PS3, thanks in the main to the absolutely gorgeous visuals that saw them pick up a wealth of awards.
Ico is a surreal, magical adventure, starring our eponymous hero, a small boy with a horned helmet who’s abandoned to his fate in a huge castle. Pretty early on in the game, he rescues Yorda, a willowy, ethereal girl, whom he tries to lead to salvation by escaping the castle and its nasty, ghostly witchy inhabitant, who also happens to be Yorda’s mother. The gameplay is a mixture of combat, as Ico uses his stick to beat the hordes of flying smoky shadow creatures who try to spirit Yorda away, and exploration, as our intrepid duo make their way through the stunningly created castle. Simple in concept, yet stunning in delivery, Ico remains a weird and wonderful game that may just steal your heart.
Shadow… came four years later, and, if anything, looks even more impressive than its predecessor, as our hero, the boringly monikered Wander, sets out to slay a host of colossi (giant, hairy monsters, like Greek gods come to life), by seeking them out with his magical sword and then locating their weak spots. In practice, this invariably involves climbing said beasts, while hanging on for dear life, before thrusting your trusty blade into various parts of their anatomy until they keel over. It all sounds humdrum, but the game looks so downright beautiful, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re interacting with a work of art rather than simply playing a video game.
Both games’ enjoy similar, strange and eerie atmospherics, which seem a world away from the majority of mainstream titles, but are more memorable for it. While they may be getting on in years and not as flashy as more modern adventures, these are games to truly lose yourself in.