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Change YoY: =   My Rating: 9.7 / 10

Over 15 years since its original release on the PS2, Shadow of the Colossus remains a wholly unique experience. Many have obviously tried to emulate its style, atmosphere, and tone, including the original creators, but nothing has matched what Team Ico achieved in this masterpiece. From the moment the game begins and the first notes of its introductory song 'To the Ancient Land' hit as you follow a man riding a horse through the wilderness and carrying something on his lap, it felt like I was about to experience something truly special.

There is this sense of quiet grandeur in Shadow of the Colossus that separates it from practically every other game I've ever played. Unlike so much of the medium, it isn't afraid to take its time and let the silent ambience of the world speak for itself. For vast stretches of the game, you're simply riding across the landscape with just your horse for company, just taking in your surroundings. Eventually, it becomes almost a meditative experience. However, when you do reach your destination, the atmosphere changes quite drastically as you come face to face with any of the 16 colossi you need to take down, though the sense of melancholy that permeates the game never completely disappears.

Despite on the surface being about taking down 16 (mostly) huge boss monsters, in a lot of ways SotC is almost a puzzle game. Every one of the colossi needs to be taken down in a specific way, and a huge part of the fight against each one is about figuring out just how to do that. It gives the game not only much of its challenge, but makes each fight unique and exciting to tackle. And then, the colossus crumbles down to the ground, the protagonist is hit by black tendrils that cause him to faint, and suddenly the feeling that something's not quite right about what you're doing rears its head once again. It's a beautiful, sad, and poignant experience, one that will undoubtedly remain with me for a very long time.