VGM of the Week: Demise of the Ritual (Shadow of the Colossus)

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

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Shadow of the Colossus | Malus

Well, this one was an obvious choice. A lot has been said about both Shadow of the Colossus and its final boss. A lot has been said about how much it fits the tragic atmosphere of the game after the death of Wander’s beloved…

OK, I’ll be honest, that scene didn’t really do it for me, nor did most of this game’s “dramatic moments” to be honest. Oh, yeah, such artistic, subtle brilliance to end each colossi battle with a depressing hymn and having Wander get impaled by black tentacles. Not to mention that the game’s ending “twist” was spelled out for you in the first scene. Yeah, the whole “wish-backfires-on-you” trope is nothing original. Lastly, I simply couldn’t get attached to Wander or Agro. Wander has only a few speaking lines in the entire game, and the other one is just a freaking horse.

So, yeah, I didn’t find Shadow of the Colossus to be the emotional masterpiece so many claim it to be. That being said, I certainly won’t deny its strong points, which is pretty much everything else. The game provided an amazing sense of scale with the battles against the colossi, and its presentation in general was phenomenal; especially the music.

The soundtrack is made up of plenty of powerful orchestral tracks, a lot of which likely deserve their own piece on. It should probably be noted that plenty of these tried to go for the typical heroic and epic sound, or they were menacing or imposing. Going for that type of approach is quite necessary when your game is about taking down giant beasts by climbing their bodies. In fact, it should be noted that Team Ico originally intended to take that approach with the game’s final boss, as well:

If one could not tell, this song was likely intended to be played against Malus instead of Demise of the Ritual. It certainly would have set up a different mood. Admittedly, part of me actually prefers this song to Demise of the Ritual simply as a result of not getting into the aforementioned scene. Despite the powerful nature of the previous songs, this one still manages to give off the powerful approach of a final boss theme and sound awesome even with its stiff competition. Right from that intro you can tell this song screams “Final Battle.”

The way that it just continues to build itself up constantly while maintaining both a powerful, yet energetic approach is just awe inspiring. The use of instruments just gives off an overwhelming sense of grandness in addition to just being memorable melody-wise. It is perfectly fitting for a final battle against such an absurdly gigantic and imposing enemy. However, that song is not what we are here to talk about:

Even without the effect of the previous scene, there is already a brilliant atmospheric effect to this piece. The use of the violins at the start and the choir just show how imposing the foe you are facing is. It also represents the setting incredibly well. You are trying to get to a foe that requires you to hide behind barricades and travel through underground passages just to reach while avoiding his blasts; in the middle of a windy and stormy weather pattern. This fits the buildup incredibly well and brings a sense of anxiety.

Even if I couldn’t really get into Shadow of the Colossus as a work of art (although I certainly enjoyed it as a game), I can easily point out just how amazing this final boss battle is. As such, it isn’t too hard to see why people enjoyed the game as much as they did. Really what I can appreciate the most about this game is that, unlike a lot of other “artistic games,” it didn’t focus solely on that aspect. It still remembered to actually be enjoyable in traditional gameplay aspects and have something to draw you to it even if it does not succeed in the emotional departments.

Nowadays, it seems like games forget that they are games in the first place and, oftentimes, come across as pretentious in addition to being tedious. (Not going to give any names, but I’ll just say it rhymes with Gone Home). As such, I have grown to have a larger appreciation of the game than back when I first played it. As such, it definitely gets my recommendation, as does its soundtrack.

Also Team Ico, we’re still waiting on The Last Guardian. Seriously, when both Duke Nukem Forever and Final Fantasy XV release before your game, you know you’re kind of doing something wrong here.

About Annie Gallagher

My name is Annie Gallagher. I am 20 year old trans girl who has yet to go through any form of transitioning, just to explain the profile pic. I have always had an interest an interest gaming, but the more time I spent with this interest, the more knowledgeable and devoted I have become to it. I am typically not the type of girl who would stay up all night playing one game, but I would be lying if I said that I did not think about them every day at one point. I generally tend to take a lot of interest in the much lesser known and niche games simply because I like the idea of discovering something that no one else has. However, that does not mean that I dislike popular games. My personal favorite game genres are JRPGs, visual novels, horror games, and platformers, and basically anything with a good story. I am also a person who enjoys being able to share my own opinions with other like minded people.