Shadow of the Colossus is a PlayStation 2 game released in 2005 (and re-released in HD for the PS3 in 2011). It tells the story of a young man who ventures into a forbidden land in the hope of reviving his dead girlfriend, and who is instructed by forces unknown to kill the creatures (the colossi) that inhabit this vast landscape in order to restore life to his beloved.
Kill all 16 of these majestic, building-sized beasts,
and you might get what you want…but at a price!
(Watch a video of this particular fight here)
The game, while stunning, is almost depressing to play through, not least for the fact that the colossi, gargantuan though they are, seem only to be mildly disconcerted by your presence, and only panic when you drive your sword into their weak spots to force them to the ground.
The game itself has been heralded as a work of art, and is cited as an influential game in the industry(*), although it’s debatable whether this or its predecessor, Ico, is truly more innovative. I’ll get to Ico soon.
Shadow of the Colossus is a brilliant and beautiful game, even by today’s standards, and all the moreso thanks to the HD re-release.
It should go without saying that the music tracks in Shadow of the Colossus are largely tragic pieces.
This is from one of the fights. You can almost hear the desperation in those strings. I think of someone battling against the odds when I hear this, and not necessarily being the one to come out on top, despite their very best attempts.
This is a particularly sad piece. You know the bit in the Lion King where…well, where you know what happens? I could see this playing here. And when the tone shifts, that’s the point where Scar emerges from the smoke and forces Simba to flee.
I’m thinking of a hopeless moment; the child who wakes to find his home mere ashes in the first bursts of sunrise, or where the woman finds her flatmate dead in the bath with a few solitary drops of blood splashing onto white tiles. Or, if we’re not talking quite so morbidly…maybe the point where your hero is looking out on the road ahead of him, realising that he may come out of this a better person, but the journey he has to take is going to all but destroy him.
Kind of like the game itself, in that sense.
I hesitate to say this particular piece is an ‘upbeat’ track, since that’s only true when compared to the rest of the music, but still, it’s a nice piece and suits well to thoughts of travel, or perhaps a journey that must be made. Alternatively, the aftermath of a great battle, where the dust is settled and the hero stands for the first time as the victor, but having lost all that he held most dear.
Music to Write Tragic Scenes By…
There’s nothing in this soundtrack that’s truly uplifting; the use of minor keys and minimalist compositions can leave you watery-eyed without much effort. You would do well to draft deeply introverted scenes to this, perhaps a point where your protagonist questions his very existence, wondering whether it is worth fighting the good fight at all.
More Information / Further Reading
If you have a PlayStation 2 or PlayStation 3, I can’t recommend the game itself enough, so really…get it. You can find it from all the retailers, both online and in-store.
Check out the full list of my ‘Music to Write Novels By’ series here, including a spiffy FAQ section, which will likely cover any questions you have.