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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main task of the game is killing 16 giants. While the giants look like they're made of stone, black blood shoots from their bodies when they're struck. One human character is killed by being impaled on a sword. While the violence is somewhat limited, players are likely to feel powerful emotions: both the thrill of the kill, and sympathy for their victims.
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What's it about?
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS casts players as Wander, a young man who ventures on horseback to a remote temple. He carries with him the body of a dead woman. He lays the woman on a stone altar and asks the spirit of the temple to restore her to life. The disembodied voice of the spirit responds that Wander has entered a forsaken land, but if he kills the 16 giant creatures that inhabit this land -- the colossi -- then the woman might be revived.
Once players find a colossus, they must take the giant monsters down using fighting skill and some puzzle-solving abilities. The main mission takes about 10 to 12 hours, and after that there is not a great deal of replay value. Finishing the game unlocks a higher difficulty setting and a time-trial mode to challenge players to defeat the colossi as fast as possible (players earn rewards such as special arrows and protective clothes for completing these extra tasks).
Is it any good?
One of the most remarkable things about the game is the way it takes what is arguably the greatest cliché of the action game genre ("Save the princess!") and uses it to subvert many of the conventions of that genre. Who is this woman, and how did she die? Why does the temple spirit say only that she might be revived? Such unsettled and unsettling thoughts create feelings of ambivalence about Wander's mission -- what exactly are players getting themselves into when they take control of Wander?
The sense of isolation in the beautiful but lonely landscape furthers the unease. Even in the colossus battles, the sense of triumph is undercut by a sadness that comes from destroying such awe-inspiring beasts. Players may be bothered by the slow frame rate, which can make play choppy, and by some awkward camera angles. Overall, though, this is a fascinating and unique game that evokes powerful emotions.
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