If Shadow of the Colossus Launched Today, Critics Would Hate It

It's still a widely respected game but does it stand the test of time...?

It’s still a widely respected game but does it stand the test of time…?


It’s a game that many gamers adore. It’s widely considered to be one of the finest achievements in the history of the industry, although it probably won’t occupy everyone’s top 50 or even top 100 list.

It’s one of those games that has acquired a fiercely loyal group of supporters over the years, and as time goes on, it cultivates an almost mythical aura. Shadow of the Colossus was indeed a colossal achievement when it first released for the PS2 in 2005. It launched at the tail end of the unparalleled PS2 generation, one year before the PS3 hit North American store shelves.

The question we tossed around this past weekend (brought on by the ongoing controversy surrounding The Last Guardian) is this- Would SotC be revered by critics if it launched today?

The sheer majesty of the game might still see it through, but there were technical mishaps...

The sheer majesty of the game might still see it through, but there were technical mishaps…

The headline of the article is the belief of one member of our staff, who argues as follows; this is the argument for negative SotC reviews if it came out today:

Critics have gotten much more anal when it comes to mechanics and control systems. It’s expected, though, because over the years, developers have refined the standard first-person and third-person mechanics almost to perfection. While it’s true that the main character in SotC isn’t supposed to be a superhero, the somewhat awkward movement is guaranteed to get picked on in a current review. Even when the game first launched, this was a point of contention among critics.

The other problem is that it won’t feel big enough or deep enough. There’s really no dialogue and only the barest notion of a story (which some people will like, but these days, it’ll be tough to pass). The world itself would be considered small by today’s standards, and there’s really nothing in it. SotC is technically an open-world game but by today’s standards, it’s completely empty. Heck, it even felt empty then. These are just unforgivable things that critics today wouldn’t forgive.

It's just so original and unique that it might be difficult to criticize, even today.

It’s just so original and unique that it might be difficult to criticize, even today.

Okay, well, that’s one side. But as is often the case when we bring up a controversial and discussion-worthy subject, another of our staff vehemently disagrees. Here’s the other side; the argument for positive SotC reviews today:

Critics would still love SotC, despite the mechanical flaws and somewhat empty world. Take a look at what many reviewers are rewarding today: Originality and highly creative interactive endeavors. Many of the highest-scoring games over the past year have been in the indie scene, where you can still find lots of imagination and innovation. SotC exemplifies the term “artistic” and that’s perfect for today, because I see more and more reviewers rewarding the artsy games, even if they’re not technically perfect.

The other thing to remember is that with the power of the PS4, those Colossi in the game would be astounding. That was one of the biggest reasons why SotC had the impact it did: The challenge of one normal (and normal-sized) dude with a sword, hunting gigantic monsters that would seem impossible to take down. That sense of awe would only be amplified if it came out today, which is why I think SotC might even score higher than it did in 2005.

As usual, we see a lot of good points. Which side do you agree with? Do you think SotC would fare well with critics if it released today? Or do you believe the technical drawbacks and the “emptiness” of that world would be too much to overlook?

6 thoughts on “If Shadow of the Colossus Launched Today, Critics Would Hate It”

I’m inclined to go with the second argument there, although I certainly understand that critics today would be harsher on flawed mechanics.

I think what stands out most about SotC would still shine through, regardless of the flaws, and I think most reviewers would see that.

That makes sense. Although, I know of a few critics that actually had big problems with those flaws even back when the game first launched, so I almost want to side with the first argument (even though I love SotC).

I actually think we’d see a huge discrepancy in scores, just because both those arguments have merit. I’m willing to bet you could find reviews as low as a 5 or a 6, and reviews as high as 10.

One group will always appreciate (and put a large emphasis on) creativity and innovation, while the other won’t let mechanical flounderings slide, regardless of the concepts underneath.

Critics would probably love it but those who gave it a 9 or a 10 would still mention the flaws, and say that technically anal people might not like it. 🙂

Well, GOOD critics would do that. 😉

critics today would flame sotc worse than a nigga in the hood would flame somke ass jays on twitter. that’s just all there is to it. it was a good game. WAS. but nowadays itd get no respect unless ur into those kinds of games. I only liked it because platforming and things like assassin’s creed,which is also a little boring. preferences have shifted too much for SotC to make it today

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