Boss Fight Books continues their series of books thoughtfully engaging with video games by diving into the beloved Shadow of the Colossus, considered by some to be the greatest video game ever made. Nick Suttner who works for Sony shepherding their indie titles is the author who provides a soulful exploration of Furnito Ueda’s minimalist masterpieces. If you are unfamiliar with the games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I would recommend playing them first as they are wholly unique in the world of video games and his exploration basically talks through a play-through of the game battle by battle so it would be spoiler heavy.
Even at face value, Shadow is a game that drips with mystery, a result of stirring players imaginations with a refreshingly minimalist narrative that requires extrapolation, no baseline historical knowledge of anything in its world save for Wander’s core motivation,and a very un-video-game-like embracing of empty space and unfinished ideas. The mood that the game creates is that of the uncharted; each colossus is a treasure to hunt, and a puzzle to unlock.
As the book gets deeper into the quest to down the gargantuan creatures featured in the game the author also reveals more of himself and how the game impacted his career, his appreciation for immersive art, and his understanding of himself. I found this quote struck me close to home as a person who loves to communicate with people over mutually loved media and the desire to share something special with your friends.
In many ways, I define my life by relentlessly sharing the things I love with the people I care about. But that may ultimately come from a selfish place. Maybe it’s less about wanting others to experience the same magic and humanity that I felt, and more about wanting to be better understood in some small way.
He also provides some insight from the game’s creator gleaned from many years worth of interviews
“When I’m deciding whether or not to put something in the game, I’m always looking for meaning behind it, no matter what. Like, does it make sense to put smaller enemies in the game just so you can get items and experience points? I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if I’d had a Colossus you wouldn’t be able to beat without some item you’d get defeating smaller enemies.”
The book ends with an exploration of a secret area that can only be traveled to after completing the game 3 times to strengthen your character’s grip ability to its maximum. I was unaware of this place and now I wish to journey there myself, but I fear the cost to get there in more ways than just time. I found this chapter in the Boss Fight Books series to be refreshingly contemplative and a wonderful reflection on the art of video games which is more commonly reserved for finer films and stage plays. If you are a fan of Ico or Shadow of the Colossus and you are the friend who tried to get everyone to play them this book is for you. If you want a snazzy printed edition click here, or grab a digital version from Amazon.