I'm Nathan Hardisty, an author, ex-editorial writer for Platformnation.com, ex-games writer at Screenjabber. I now write for a variety of sites on the internet while still updating both my DTOID blog and my regular blog, which can be found below.
I am currently writing for Flixist.com
Also I'm incredibly pretentious about video-games so beware. I might just hipsterblow your minds.
Shadow of the Colossus†is the greatest game ever made. Iíve explained numeroustimes†as to why I believe that and yet here I am. Game critique corner. Iíve been chewing my way through the recent Team ICO Collection, finishing up Ico, and now moving into the heartland of Colossus. I donít know what to say. The collection has made the greatest game of all time that bit greater, tipping it over into absolute epitome of perfection that this industry has to offer. Itís transformed my life, but I will not cry again. Yes. For the relationship I had with Agro can never, ever be replicated; even within Shadow†itself.
It sounds silly to say, but I hope you know where Iím coming from, video-games are about interactive experiences. Those experience us a lifetime, and itís not always best to repeat them. This doesnít not make Shadow†any less unique but rather the greatest kind of unique: it can never be played again in the same way. I will never be affected by Shadow†in the same way for as long and as hard as I play it, and for that, it truly is the greatest video-game experience I have ever endured. Absolute†ecstatic†beauty with strokes of mechanics and interaction peppered by level design and themes, ideas and all manner of things to tie it together.
Shadow of the Colossus†is one game I simply cannot bring myself to bring into game critique corner. Yet, I will. If I love it this much then I should be able to celebrate its flaws and thus treasure it ever more. Shadow of the Colossus†does have flaws, but Iím notÖ sure on them. The controls are arguably silly but I believe in this article†that itís a truly physical representation of what occurs on screen. Thereís some visual issues, but theyíve all been tidied up with the HD Collection. Iím trying to think of mistakes, of pacing issues or something, and none of it is coming to mind.
Life is about mistakes because those mistakes mean that we learn. Shadow of the Colossus†is a video-game about the greatest human tragedy of all; the role reversal. David and Goliath, the human and non-human, Wander and the Colossus. Itís the greatest interactive experience Iíve ever had and I doubt I can so simply pick flaws and follies out of it at whim. Iíd probably need to investigate and replay the game butÖ I canít go back in time. My experience with Colossus, the one that points it as the Ďgreatest game ever madeí, the one Iíve written about for so long. That ended nearly six†years ago.
I donít have a TARDIS, I wish I did, but it would be hard for me to critique that experience and I could easily critique Shadow†as a product, as a video-game. The problem is that, while I could do that, it would be pointless. What Iím arguing here is that video-games are the most†unique†form of artistic expression in the history of the human race. Experiences we all have with these interactive media bits can transform us, enrich us and make us cry. Perhaps Shadow of the Colossus†being the epitome of interaction means I simply canít critique it because itís completely unique of an experience to me.
All great video-games do this, in some way, they contain such mass amounts of interaction that the non-interactive parts (the cutscenes, which mirror the lack of control that Wander actually has and thus the player) end up having diverse effects. What I could cry at, you could laugh at. See what I mean? Itís similar to my story of Boone, that story is undoubtedly only going to occur once to one human being and it just so happened to be me. I canít compare that, I canít critique but I can write about it. I can say ďLook! Look how amazing emergent storytelling is.Ē all while you play your Black Ops†and Red Dead Redemptions†other cinematic bollocks.
I donít hate†linear video-games, fuck no, Half-Life 2†is one of the greatest video-games ever made. Portal 2†is in there as well. What I find differently is how I can talk about all manner of emergent gameplay and unique qualities that games like Shadow possess but with linear games, I can easily compare. Itís the strength and downfall of non-linear games, that it canít be properly identified and categorized and recognized andÖ celebrated as easily. Individualís story, the emergent storytelling, is exclusive to only those who play it. We can certainly read other stories and emotional synchronize with them, but we can never live†them.
Maybe Iíve made sense, maybe Iíve been ridiculously pretentious (as usual) but I canít exactly critique†Shadow†in the same old fashioned way. I can try, but I donít think I could do it justice. So many other people identify with my experience, but I doubt any of them had lived through the same effects, and that is the beauty of video-games. Interaction and†exclusivity.