Top 5 Worst Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus - ArticleCraig Snow , posted on 20 February 2018 / 6,650 Views
With the third, and likely final, release of Shadow of the Colossus now in the bag - this time beautifully remade on the PlayStation 4 - what better time to wave lyrical on one of my favourite games of all time? The stars of the game are the 16 colossi and almost every fan has a favourite (and perhaps a least favourite too).
I'm no exception and after completing the PlayStation 4 version of the game several times since launch my views on the best and worst colossi have changed slightly and then been solidified. Thus this two-part article - one for the top 5 colossi and one for the worst 5. Up first are my least favourite. Feel free to share yours in the comments section!
5th - Pelagia
In a tough fight between the disinterested Phaedra and the obtuse Pelagia, Pelagia just about edges it to make it to 5th on my list of the worst colossi in the game. In contrast to most of the beasts that make up this list, both are actually impressive and imposing figures to look at. The main issue with them is the unintuitive means of accessing their sigils.
For Phaedra it's mostly a frustrating waiting game - you have to try and provoke a sense of curiosity in a largely aloof character, and then wait for him to ponderously stick his head down into the tunnels you've disappear into, so that you can then run up behind him and clamber on either his lowered backside or on the swinging decorative columns on either side of his head.
Pelagia is arguably more impressive to look at, especially when he rises out of the water in front of you, as captured in the screenshot a couple of paragraphs above. But getting access to his sigils to take him down is a frustration. There are two main ways of doing this, but both are long-winded. The most common one is to swim to his rear and then climb up his back, but doing so can be a bit of a chore, as he'll move his body to follow you round, and you only very slowly outpace him. Camera issues aren't infrequent here, especially in earlier versions of the game, as you swim between his limbs and his body.
The other method is to bait his lightning attack near one of the structures dotted about the watery arena, then quickly climb out of the water and run and jump at his face. If he's close enough to the platform you'll grab a hold of a ledge on his face and can climb onto the top of his head from there. This second method relies on a little bit of luck and a lot of good timing, so tends to be recommended only to veterans of the game.
Regardless of method, once you've made it to his head you then have to direct him to one of the structures by hitting the teeth shapes on his head. Once he's finally in position you can jump to the top of these structures. From there you bait out his lightning attack (being careful to hind behind the central stone circle), and then wait for him to slam his front limbs onto the top of the structure, exposing his sigil. At this point you have to quickly run and jump to the sigil, being careful not to miss-time it, otherwise you'll miss entirely, plunging into the water and being forced to repeat the entire sequence from the start. Even if you manage to do this all perfectly you'll have to repeat the process at least once more (unless you have the Queen's Sword), because he quickly retreats into the water when his weak point is stabbed.
Pelagia is tedious to overcome even when you know what you have to do, because one small slip up means having to start essentially from scratch. But when you're playing through for the very first time - assuming you resist the temptation to resort to a guide - then actually knowing what you need to do is a massive challenge in and of itself. Shadow of the Colossus, when played for the first time, is often a game of trial and error. Pelagia takes this to the extreme with a convoluted tight-rope of a fight that's rarely satisfying even if it is visually impressive.
4th - Kuromori
I used to hate the Kuromori fight - it was always a relief to finish it so I didn't have to run up and down the arena's stairs for minutes at a time any longer. Now, if you're a veteran of the game you may be thinking 'why the heck was he running up and down the stairs all fight?'. Because I didn't realise that this fight is actually much easier than it first seems. I thought the way to defeat him was to attract his attention at the top of the arena (so far, so right), shoot the glowing parts on his legs so that he dropped to the ground (still good, though not ideal), and then run down all of the stairs and jump from roughly the second floor out into the arena (wait, hold up, you did what??).
I didn't realise you could just fling yourself from the second to top floor once you'd attracted his attention and then just drop to the bottom, ideally grabbing onto one of the stone blocks jutting out on the way down to break your fall (or even landing on him, if you shoot his legs out from under him first). I thought if you jumped from the top you'd easily die; that there's no way I'd survive that fall. But survive it you do, and from there the fight is extremely easy - shoot him from the bottom of the arena, avoid the poison clouds if he manages to get any shots off, and then stabby stab stab him while he's on his back.
So I'll put my hands up - in large part this one's on me, not Kuromori. But even with the fight reduced to a matter of seconds and the frustrations ironed out of my run I'm still less than impressed by Kuromori. He's one of the smaller colossi, and his design is relatively unimpressive, making him feel like a minor roadblock on the way to greater things.
3rd - Dirge
I'm usually a fan of novel colossi concepts. A giant colossi, a flying colossi, an underwater colossi, even a small colossi; one of each of these is essential to making the game as initially impactful on the player as it is. The excitement of finding out what the next colossi is going to look like and what will be unique about the fight is one of the best parts of that first playthrough of the game. So a sand snake-like colossus certainly fits the bill in that respect; there's nothing quite like Dirge in the game.
Unfortunately the execution is lacking, especially in the first two versions of Shadow of the Colossus. Like many (but not all) of the colossi that require the use of Agro and/or the bow and arrow in the fight, the duel with Dirge is a little bit too far on the wrong side of the challenging/frustrating dichotomy.
As Dirge stalks you in a circular underground cave, you have to do multiple things - run away from him on Agro, steer Agro to avoid the walls and the pillars of Earth that hold up the cave, keep your camera focussed on what's happening behind you, and aim with the bow and arrow at his eyes as he briefly pops up from the sand. In that narrow timing window you need to successfully connect an arrow with one of his eyes so that he loses control and slams into a wall or pillar.
Thinking back to the PlayStation 2 version now, I'm amazed that all of this was possible for the average player to achieve. Aiming with the bow and arrow alone was a pain in the backside, let alone while controlling Agro at the same time. Fortunately it's all much more manageable in the PlayStation 4 remake.
2nd - Basaran
Oh dear, oh dear. Basaran has three things going for him, none of which are enough to redeem the fight - his stature, his enormous furry underbelly, and that adorable 'what's happening, why are you doing this to me?' bewildered look on his face. Getting to the top of said face is such a chore, however, that you'll probably be short on sympathy for this tortoise-like nemesis.
So what's wrong with the Basaran fight? Well, first of all the only way to get to his weak points is to bait him into walking over one of the geysers on the field in front of his cave. The only way to lure him into the path of one of these geysers is to move about in front of him and wait for him to slowly move into position. Unfortunately, while all of that's happening he'll be shooting his ranged attack at you, knocking you (and Agro, if you're using her) down and taking large chunks out of your life bar. To make matters worse, some parts of Basaran's body don't seem to trigger an interaction with the geysers that cause him to flail into the air; constantly baiting the lumbering beast around so that it's in just the right position to be affected by the geysers can be a nightmare.
When Basaran is finally lifted into the air the path is open for you to fire arrows at two weak points on its heels, which will cause him to flip over onto his back. As with most time-sensitive bow and arrow interactions, this was a more difficult task in earlier versions of the game, and added a little bit more pressure to the fight. But my second major gripe with Basaran isn't even related to that - no, it's that once you scale up its (fluffy and really quite cute) underbelly you need to find a way of ensuring you stay on Basaran as he flips himself back over onto his feet.
It's taken me half a dozen playthroughs across all three versions of the game to finally find a foolproof way of doing this, but before I managed to do that I always had a 50/50 chance of being catapulted off of Basaran and having to start over from scratch, which was incredibly frustrating given the effort required to get to that point. My method is to reach the top of the underbelly, then grab onto the shell, jump to the top of this small cluster of grip points, and then stay there; don't proceed onto the shell itself, because you'll easily get launched off as he flips back over. Just stay there, and as he begins to turn back over hold firmly onto the ledge. So long as you have enough stamina to do this for the duration of his re-positioning you'll be able to ensure you don't get launched into the air.
Anyway, all of these frustrations added together make the fight with Basaran a very rare case of one that's so tedious that, unfortunately, something is lost from the spectacle and enjoyment of the fight.
1st - Celosia
I doubt many will be surprised to find Celosia on this list - the two diminutive colossi are often listed among the worst after all. But why not Cenobia? Indeed, why isn't Cenobia ranked higher than Celosia on my list? Well, I actually prefer the Cenobia fight, hands down. It's much more interesting and immeasurably more intuitive. Once you realise that he rams any structure you're stood on, and that the pillars will topple after two hits, you're golden. By contrast working out that Celosia will ram the braziers, dislodging a flaming torch, which you then have to sort of re-ignite, and that he's terrified of the flame, so can be forced to the edge of the temple and will fall to the ground below, removing his armour, isn't so intuitive in my opinion. Falter in understanding any of these steps and you'll be stun-locked to death.
So that's why I think the Celosia fight is worse. But they're both pretty similar, right? Even their names are almost the same. So they should both be on the list? No. One small colossus is a novelty - I'm glad there is one for that reason alone. It's interesting and surprising to suddenly be presented with a colossus that looks like a cross between a dog and a ram, after having fought enormous beats all the way up until that point. I just think there should only be one, and that one should be Cenobia. Celosia should have been left on the cutting room floor, making way for the creepy Spider or the unusual Worm; heck any of the scrapped colossi for that matter, even Sirius. Instead there are two tiny colossi that have similar personalities and are killed in similar ways. It's one of the most underwhelming parts of an otherwise titanic game.
That concludes my list of the worst colossi in Shadow of the Colossus. Next up I'll cover my favourite ones.