I don’t have very much time for video games anymore. It’s one of the main gnawing annoyances of my life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing terminal. I don’t live under a black cloud of ‘Woe is me; why have I abandoned you, video games?!’ But nevertheless, sometimes I’ll catch myself taking stock of all the activities that I have time for—that I make time for—and I’ll notice that where once they were a huge, looming presence in my psyche, video games now occupy barely any of that sacred, limited space. It’s quite the drop-off. I was part raised by video games. The NES; the Amiga; like, so many Game Boys; the bloody Game Gear; and my beloved PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3—the memories and swirling emotions of countless hours spent playing games on these devices will be forever woven into my being. The agonising struggles and the euphoric victories inherent in mastering a game’s mechanics—there are probably levels of Mega Man 2 that I could play blindfolded. The power of experiencing the expansive and immersive stories that games learned to tell as the nascent medium matured alongside me—just thinking of Meryl Silverburgh getting shot by an unseen Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid makes my fists ball up in helpless rage to this day. Video games have had me in one hell of powerful hold for the vast majority of my existence.
But something has happened in the last half decade. Well, let’s not be coy about it: Life happened. The riptide of adulthood pulls hard, and it takes a great deal of effort and time management to keep all of one’s hobbies close to you. Responsibilities, stresses, and a mind less capable of switching off from both conspire to slowly, inexorably drain some things away. I have managed to keep a tight desperate grip on most things, but video games? They’re rapidly receding into the horizon. Whilst I haven’t shied away from PC gaming, I have been a console owner and player most of my life, and this generation is the first that I have not bought a new iteration of the PlayStation since the console’s first. This saddens me a little bit. But what saddens me even more is the fact that that saddens me only a little bit! What have I become, that I should abandon a beloved passion with barely a shrug of the shoulder and just the fraction of a longing glance?!
What can I say? I have seen and tried new entries from two of my most sacred games franchises—Metal Gear Solid and Hitman—and though I have enjoyed them both I still have not felt compelled to pick up a PlayStation 4. I had been all but ready to call time of death on my hobby; to kick away the last few glowing embers of a passion that once burned as bright as day.
Until last night.
Last night Sony dropped a trailer at E3 (the biggest video games trade show of the year). I used to keep up with E3 coverage almost religiously, these days I give it barely a look. But Reddit delivered this thing unto me, and because of the title I clicked through to the YouTube link attached. I was lounging on a sofa at the time, half horizontal, and within the first few frames of this video I was sat bolt upright, mouth agape, a solitary tear running down my cheek.
For those people unfortunate to have never played the 2005 game Shadow of the Colossus, the resonance of the following clip will be minimal.
For those of us who have played it…
I wrote about Shadow of the Colossus before so I will quote myself here:
Shadow of the Colossus is an adventure game, and broadly speaking it follows the standard adventuring template of plopping your player character into an unknown land, and then pointing you in the vague direction that you must go in order to complete some task. But to describe it as such would be like saying that The Sistine Chapel is some bloke’s ceiling graffiti. Shadow of the Colossus is a game like no other, transcending so many of the medium’s limitations and leaving a permanent mark on your soul.
As much as the contrary might so often appear to be case, I choose my words very carefully.
Shadow of the Colossus did leave a huge mark on me when I played and devoured it over a decade ago. I still think of it often to this day. In a time in my life where I play essentially no video games I still catch myself reminiscing, hearing thundering footfalls in the distance. The vast open plains, the mournful, terrifying beasts, the moral labyrinth its narrative strands you in. The game really is something quite special; one of the towering achievements of its medium. And to see it now, looking like that? The funny thing is, had I heard of this version’s development, I would have expected to hate it. One of the original’s charms is its stylised look. It was never gunning for photorealism, instead opting to tell its story through a more impressionistic, dream-like lens. But I think this remake will do that justice. This does not look like an ignorant mob sacking the temple. This looks like a labor of love, updating the technology to create the same effect for a new generation. This looks like a restoration of the temple.
This looks like my nostalgia-burnished memories of the game.
This looks like something that I will need to play, life be dammed.
Shadow of the Colossus is more important.