In particular, my girlfriend gave me the PS3 remasters of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. I have played half of the former before trading it, and I never touched the latter despite owning a PS2 copy. I've also heard Shadow is something of a prequel to ICO, so that's where we'll start.
It opens up following a man riding a black horse through a mostly green and brown landscape. It's still pretty, and you get the sense that this game is just going to feel nice. That is, of course, until you hit new game and want to kill yourself.
I've played through the first three bosses already, but I'm starting over for the benefit of this LP. The man on the horse crosses the bridge. Birds looking suspiciously like buzzards circle overhead. That building is made entirely of lime stone. JESUS.
The horse does not want to go down those stairs. I do not blame him. The door closes behind our hero ominously.
I don't really understand high buildings with winding ramps and no rooms all the way down, but we'll go with this architectural choice. We're descending. We're crossing a bridge and descending. Into Hell perhaps? Well, that's apt for how I feel after playing through three bosses.
Still having controlled nothing, I watch as the main character pulls a human shaped bundle off his horse and puts her on the pedestal where light finally seeps into the building. He pulls off the blanket with a flourish.
Then there is a mask and some fog saying cryptic things about memories and blood and beings created from light and bringing back the souls of the dead. It turns out, from what I'm getting, that the main character has trespassed onto forbidden land in order to bring back the soul of this dead girl.
Shadows rise up from the ground, a la ICO, but I don't have to fight them personally. The horse, however, is freaking the fuck out. The main character calmly draws his sword; it glows like they're orcs and he's Bilbo. Then a guy named Dormin shows up using the royal "we" (but the player only hears his voice), and he says souls cannot be reclaimed naturally, but our sword is really cool, so whatevs.
Then it turns out that these tiny (well, they're bigger than the main character, but you'll get why I call them tiny in a second) statues must be destroyed to bring her back. Only you can't destroy them with a mortal weapon. INSTEAD, we have to kill these giant colossi. With our glowing sword. To break tiny statues. WHILE they try to smash us.
Then Dormin gives a warning about how we'll have to pay a huge price for the girl's soul, but the main character gives a good old Cartman "Whatever, I do what I want," and Dormin says "FINE NO ONE EVER LISTENS TO ME ANYWAY" and tells us to follow the light with our sword.
Then. Finally, like I'm playing Valkyrie Profile, I have control of my character. After years.
I call my horse with X at the stairs. Turns out his name is "Argo," like the fake movie. I get on him with some trial and error (jumping at awkward positions, yay triangle). Then I go into the light, raise my weird orc sword, and it tells me to go straight back into a dark alcove. Because that's cheery.
Eventually, I make it there. I play around with my horse some, making him go faster and slower, assuming that being able to control him will aid me later. I also invert the really messed up camera controls. Finally, my character jumps off the horse, climbs some ivy, jumps around (using the terrain as a tutorial for the controls), and makes it to a mesa where there's a giant Doctor Mundo running around. I use my sword to find his weak spot on his head and charge blindly for his back leg. Where I hop on, stab his Achilles heel twice, and he falls. Then I climb up his back and get really mad about how Jewish he is when I get on his head.
I'M JUST TRYING TO STAB YOU HOLD STILL.
But it only takes a few stabs before he's dead. THEN I RUN FOR MY LIFE. But the black tendrils of death still catch and impale me.
That looks pleasant.
Afterward, I can save. Back at the weird pedestal with Dormin, when I come to, there's a shadow man standing over me. Creepy. I shake it off, and Dormin tells me that I must "raise my courage" to kill the next giant stone asshole. Fine.
Once again, I call Argo at the stairs and head down them. There're a few words about a save shrine healing wounds. I am told this important, but I just saved, so I don't care right now.
The next colossus is behind the temple--thing. I take off running across the bridge. If you are not on Argo, you can jump off and die, but the horse is smarter than me, I guess, so I can just cruise over while I'm riding him. The game focuses in on some sort of stone gate under the overpass after I cross the bridge, so I dutifully ride the horse down it and cross the beach, where the gate opens, and a turtle-minotaur trots out.
When he raises his feet, I raise my "courage" (by courage, I mean bow), get in his face, and shoot it, until he falls. I have trouble getting enough stamina to climb up him this way, however, so I just kind of fall off, then get behind him, wait for him to lift a back foot, shoot him, and then climb up his back leg.
This is significantly less frustrating the second time around. I stab his ass a few times until the sigil fades. Then I crawl over his back to his head, rolling around like a doll. It's pretty hilarious. I almost fall off several times. There was this moment where I just barely climbed high enough to jump and land on his back before my stamina disappeared and then I kind of closed my eyes and PRAYED.
Funny story, the first time I played this boss, I was five seconds from breaking up with my girlfriend for laughing hysterically at me. Not very rational.
At his head, it seems this one is more docile, as I only have to interrupt my stabbing once to stand back on his neck and recharge. The bitch falls into the ocean. I RUN FOR MY LIFE AGAIN. But yeah. Tendrils of death.
...Is it just me, or is my hair getting darker? Hmmm.
AM I REVERSE AGING INTO ICO?
I save and wake up with two shadows over me. Another statue falls. I turn off the game. The third one took me an entire hour last time, and I really don't want to go there.
My general thoughts are on the expanse. The enormous outer world didn't work for me at all in Star Ocean: Last Hope (I only bring this terrible game up because it too felt like it had an extremely large world dwarfing the main character), but I think it suits Shadow much better, as there is a purpose. The world is large. Stone giants are everywhere. You are small, alone, insignificant, and your only friend is a horse that probably dies at some point. It's beautiful, scary, and sad at the same time.
The second time around, this game has been significantly less frustrating. I'll probably still swear and try to kill ten people over the third one, as I had a much better grasp of controls when I fought him last time already, but we'll see.