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Boss Fight Books #10

Shadow of the Colossus

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A massive, open world, brimming with mystery. A gauntlet of giants to overcome, living levels that must be destroyed... but to what end? Since its 2005 release, Fumito Ueda's minimal-yet-epic masterpiece, Shadow of the Colossus, has often been hailed as one of the greatest video games of all time.

But why is Shadow still utterly unique over a decade later? Nick Suttner examines this question and others while journeying across Shadow’s expanses—stopping along the way to speak to developers about the game’s influence, examine the culture around its unfinished mysteries, and investigate the game's colossal impact on his own beliefs about games, art, and life.

194 pages, Paperback

First published December 15, 2015

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Nick Suttner

2 books8 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
Profile Image for Peter Derk.
Author 24 books333 followers
February 4, 2016
Well, the parts that were good were GREAT. And the parts that weren't as good were super not as good.

Wow. With reviews like that, who needs Michiko Kakutani?

The best parts of this Shadows book are the parts that go beyond what's happening on the screen. When the author gets personal, or when he gives me some inside info from a fairly in-depth interview with the game's creators.

The parts that didn't light me up as much were the repetitive "I wake up at the temple, cross the land, get to the colossus, kill him by taking these steps" pieces that I didn't really need because I'd played the game. These things definitely happen in the game, and if you hadn't played the game already, I don't think you could read this book and understand it without those pieces.

And that got me thinking, How many people who haven't played Shadows of the Colossus are reading this book? Surely some, but not many(?)

And it really drove home for me that, with this game in particular, the original video game experience of Shadow was committed to a format that, IMHO, really, really works. And a book about Shadow is a secondary, less-enriching experience because the game was totally designed to be a game.

Which is, I think, why the parts that happen outside of the game, the part about Suttner's life or personal connection to the game, his interpretations of what's happening, I think that's why I enjoyed those parts a lot more than the parts of the book that felt like they were filling in the story so that someone who had never played the game would still find the book accessible.

I know it's really damn hard to market a book, let alone a book where one might say, "Go play this entire video game first, then come back." But I feel like it could have made the book a richer experience for me, if it was written with the assumption that the audience would have played the game already. I think Suttner's a good writer, and like I said, the personal stuff was great. The descriptions were good too, especially considering that a lot of the stuff in this game is not easy to describe. I didn't feel lost, and I got a good idea of what was going on. It's been some time since I played Shadow, and Suttner's descriptions brought a lot back to me. And he absolutely kills it for the last 20% of the book, which I think was the part that best combined what was happening in the game and with Suttner personally.

I know the book wasn't written to please me specifically. But that's why, for me personally, it wasn't a total homerun. That might be totally unfair. I don't know.

I'd just like to use the rest of this space to recommend that people play Shadow of the Colossus. It's a fucking incredible game. Trust me when I say, you've never played anything like it. It's emotional in ways and on a level that has never been replicated in gaming. It forces you into a strange, hero-adjacent role that so many narratives are uncomfortable with.

I think that Shadow is the ultimate, for me, when it comes to storytelling in gaming. I don't think I've played a game that had a stronger sense of story, and where the gameplay better served the story. I don't know if I've ever played another game where it felt like the game elements are subordinate to the storytelling.

It's also a beautiful piece of video game minimalism, which is such a strange thing to encounter in a format that's full of SO MUCH STUFF. There is so much stuff happening, so much of it is ratcheted up. Shadow exists in this weird, other space that feels very lonely at times.

I talk a lot about what separates good and great comics when I review books, and the difference between a good and a great comic is this: A great comic is a comic that tells a story that couldn't be done as well in a different format. In a great comic, the comic format is essential to the way in which the story was told, and I think that makes for a very rich comic book experience. It also means that when comics are adapted, they can suffer. Watchmen is a good example of a book that really maxed out what the form can do, and the movie didn't really deliver on those aspects or make use of film in ways not prescribed by the comic.

Shadow of the Colossus is meant to be played. It's a game, but toss aside your preconceived notions about the word "game" meaning that something is unserious or that it can't handle serious stuff. Shadow is the rare game that showed us a different idea of what games could be.

Play that shit.
Profile Image for fonz.
355 reviews30 followers
January 30, 2020
Ensayo sobre el videojuego de Fumito Ueda y su equipo, Shadow of the Colossus, más basado en el impacto emocional que en lo analítico. No en vano la estructura del ensayo se articula alrededor de una especie de "novelización" del desarrollo del juego en su totalidad (lo que no invita mucho a leer el ensayo si no has jugado ya a Shadow of the Colossus), en el que Suttner nos describe como Wander, protagonista del videojuego, va eliminando uno a uno a los colosos de la tierra prohibida, intercalando en esta narración algunas opiniones de Ueda, de algún integrante de su equipo y de otros desarrolladores de videojuegos influenciados por los juegos del Team Ico, además de las impresiones del propio autor, relacionándolas con situaciones de su vida.

Como ya digo, el análisis es muy contemporáneo, basado en el "yo", lo emocional y el profundo impacto vital que el juego causó en Suttner, lo cual se vincula con una idea que recorre o sostiene el ensayo; el videojuego como "arte" en tanto en cuanto sea capaz de ofrecer una implicación o impacto emocional al jugador. Es decir, Shadow of the Colossus es una obra de arte porque nos emociona. Una idea interesante que revela algunas cosas sobre las corrientes de opinión del medio o, mejor dicho, las corrientes de opinión de los jugadores, la prensa y la "intelectualidad" del medio. O de la época en la que vivimos. Digo esto porque resulta interesante si contrastamos esta idea con con la lista de videojuegos comprados por el Museum of Modern Art de Nueva York. Revisando dicha lista no encontramos casi ningún juego que implique impacto emocional (no descarto que el MoMA haya querido comprar Shadow of the Colossus y no haya podido), si no que incluso los juegos posteriores al año 2000 (a excepción de Portal que además de ofrecer un concepto y una mecánica de juego innovadora es también un juego narrativo) parece que se han escogido teniendo en mente el videojuego como diseño industrial; en el concepto, las mecánicas, un diseño artístico particular y propio y la narrativa generada por la interacción del jugador con los elementos del entorno presentado por el videojuego (Minecraft, Katamari Damacy, el complejísimo e inmenso Dwarf Fortress, Eve Online, etc, etc), lo que suscita algunas preguntas en torno a la relación entre lo emotivo y lo artístico en los videojuegos, e, incluso, en la mentalidad cultural contemporánea.
Profile Image for Travis Riddle.
Author 10 books322 followers
April 15, 2019
I've never fully played Shadow of the Colossus, but it's a game I've been read about and been interested in for many years (and might pick up now after reading this).

This book's structure is fairly interesting, mostly following along the author's playthrough (which reads somewhat like a novel, somewhat like a walkthrough) while certain moments are interjected with related information like interviews with those who worked on the game, interviews and examples of how it influenced games that came later, its connections to Ico, etc.

While I would've enjoyed more of a focus on the creation of the game and those tidbits about its influence on gaming as a whole, I did enjoy and appreciate what was there, and the passages describing the game had a ton of atmosphere and made me itch to play it myself.
Profile Image for Paul J.
52 reviews
January 10, 2016
I really enjoyed this reminiscence of one of my favourite games. The author runs through all sixteen of the colossi battles, mixing in analysis of the themes and mechanics of Shadow with anecdotes about what the game means to him. It's been years and years since I played the game so it was a pleasant stroll down memory lane. It's hard to try and view the book from the perspective of someone who hasn't played through the game, but I think the author sells the fact that it is an important, unique entry in the canon of modern video games. It wouldn't surprise me if someone reading would be inspired to try the HD remaster, but keep in mind the book is packed with spoilers!
Profile Image for Erika Schoeps.
368 reviews73 followers
March 28, 2020
A retelling of the narrative of Shadow of the Colossus part by part from a passionate consumer of the video game. He adds little dramatic flairs to his retelling of the story, adds his own interpretations and imaginings to the narrative happenings.

Suttner also intersperses interviews with the game director, internet forum comments, and Japanese-only bonus content releases into the narrative retelling in order for the reader to get the most out of the retelling. As we experience Suttner's viewpoint of what he played (and the viewpoint of the creator and other players), he analyzes the game's design decisions. The reader will finish this book with inspiration for how to design their own game; they'll receive guidance and insight into how to make decisions for their own work in how to best achieve the emotional impact they want.

The downside is Suttner's patronizing tone towards chart toppers and blockbusters. I'm not the biggest fan either, but he only introduces high-profile titles in order to tell you what they're not and how they fail next to Shadow . I would've greatly preferred them just being altogether absent.

Profile Image for Brendan.
16 reviews
December 8, 2016
I was late to Shadow of the Colossus. I heard of it when it came out, as a 13 year-old rather tuned into the gaming scene, but somehow never ended up playing it. Despite owning a PS2, I pretty much only used it to play Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, devoting most of my gaming time to various RPGs and strategy games across the Nintendo consoles.

I actually started Shadow of the Colossus in May 2015 on the PS3 (yet another purchasing decision driven by a desire to play Kingdom Hearts), and played the first five colossus battles at a meandering pace. Over a year later, in August 2016, reunited with my PS3, I sat immersed in the living room of my family's house night after night until I finally beat the game.

At the moment, my thought was that, while it was perhaps not my favorite game ever, it was probably among the best I'd ever played. Over the last several months since I've finished the game, I've found that my mind drifts back to the experience frequently. Sometimes I'll find a melody stuck in my head, only to realize it's from one of the colossus battles; or I'll look out at a mountain and valley from a train and will think of the expanses of the Forbidden Lands; or I'll see a horse and think of Agro. It's strange to connect so much to a game, especially since I don't have the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia like so many, but I guess that just speaks to its power as a work of art.

This book is a combination of three things: a memoir describing how Shadow of the Colossus essentially defined Suttner's entire life, an analysis of how Shadow of the Colossus (and its predecessor Ico) helped reshape the video game industry and influenced the direction of many games that followed it, and a Let's Play of each part of the game interspersed with analysis and observation.

Overall, the combination works. Having felt a deep personal connection to the game and realized that it has reshaped my conception of what a video game can be and how it can affect the player, I found Suttner's memoir sections quite interesting - and, as a writer, it led me to reflect on the novels, anime, manga, and video games in my life that have affected me similarly to how Shadow of the Colossus affected him.

Regarding the other two sections, I would have liked to see more analysis and less Let's Play. For me, the most interesting parts of the book were those parts when Suttner quoted another video game creator or journalist and put their observations and analyses into the arc of recent video game history. I found his observations about big budget games' unwillingness and inability to take risks given the costs associated with them fascinating, as it put into context something that had nagged at me for years. These quotes, as well as Suttner's own commentary, also gets a little more at one of the biggest questions I have as a video game player, which is, "How does - and how should - a video game attempt to tell its story?" The various discussions of the way that game play informs Shadow of the Colossus's "show-don't-tell" philosophy was particularly helpful in shaping how I can better analyze and describe video games moving forward.

The weakest part of the book is the Let's Play section, in which he describes the colossus battles and his emotions and reactions to them. I did not find these sections too excessive, as they mostly showed up in the middle and end of chapters and blended with the analysis. I usually enjoyed reading them; it was interesting to see how Suttner felt about the various battles, it jogged my memory, it validated to some degree the complicated feelings I felt while playing the game, and Suttner's analysis was interesting when it appeared. That said, I can't help thinking that there was so much more to say about the game, and that these sections were, to some degree, lost potential.

One function of the Let's Play sections, besides helping people who played the game years ago context, was probably to make the book accessible to those who had not yet played the game. That said, if you haven't played Shadow of the Colossus, you should not be reading this book. You should play the game, and then read this book. There's something paradoxical about reading detailed descriptions of a game that the author argues is defined by its game play instead of words. Suttner repeatedly makes the point that the game trusts its players to figure things out. I feel Suttner could have trusted his readers to have played the game and delved more into what makes it so singular.

TL;DR: This is a part-memoir of how Shadow of the Colossus affected the author, Suttner; part-historical analysis of how Shadow of the Colossus and Ico reshaped the video game industry; and part Let's Play interspersed with analysis that helps you remember the game and how you felt about it. It could probably have had more of the second and less of the third, but it is a very interesting, thought-provoking read if you have played the game.

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE GAME, go play the game. It's truly one of the masterpieces of the medium, and should not be missed. Do not read this book if you have no played the game. You will spoil the game for yourself (to the extent that it can be spoiled). After you play the game, read this book, and it may help you sort out what Shadow of the Colossus means to you.
14 reviews
May 21, 2016
I found this book very frustrating since despite the author, Nick Suttner, telling us several times that he's been playing and thinking about Shadow of the Colossus for ten years, that he really likes it etc., he seems to not have much to actually say about it. One of the first things he does is spend 11 of his 177 numbered pages describing a completely different game, Ico, by the same developers instead of the game this book is advertised as being about. Most of the rest of the book is spent describing a typical playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus in repetitive and excruciating detail, with the more interesting parts of the book being in the occasional aside of a comment from the game's director Fumito Ueda, commentary from other developers influenced by the game, or the rather bizarre asides about Suttner's personal life that are at best tangentially related to the rest of the book.

It's frustrating because there are times where Suttner almost has something to say about the game, but then he backs off. He'll mention that Ico and Shadow tell their stories through their gameplay, but not once does he ever clearly explain what is meant by this. He mentions the apparent death of the horse Agro in the game representing a loss of innocence the player is supposed to feel, and yet when Agro turns out not to be dead after all in the game’s ending this idea about innocence is not revisited. At another point Suttner says that the third Colossus may be the most "iconic" battle in the game, and then he just moves on. Well what the hell does it mean then for what might be the game's most iconic fight to be the third boss out of sixteen total? Did the developers just get lazy with developing the last thirteen, or what? You could do a whole essay about that topic alone, and there's almost no interrogation of the subject here.

And that's the real flaw of the book- it's detailed description of the surface of Shadow of the Colossus with little actual critical analysis.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Morgan Haro.
12 reviews3 followers
December 30, 2015
A great read which revisits the entirety of Shadow of the Colossus (which should be on everyone’s list of best video game to ever video game ever) with all of its visceral action and quiet moments, and overlays it with wonderful anecdotes on the game’s development, the people that made it happen, its influences on other game designers, as well its impacts on the author’s own life; all of which made for great reading.

Reading this book was a fantastic way to re-experience the game in a new way, and I'd recommend it to everyone who's played the game, or anyone interested in learning more about video gaming's continual incursion in to the realm of fine art.
Profile Image for Nick Carraway LLC.
331 reviews10 followers
March 7, 2023
First Reading

1) "But what interests me is just how far Shadow swung away from those other hits. Its reductions were across the board, and uncompromising: Only sixteen “enemies.” Only two weapons, both of which you start with and will never level up. You’ll never learn new moves, only (almost) nothing to collect.
Yet despite all that isn’t there, Shadow is absolutely riveting. At a time when games were doubling down on the gamer by betting big on proven formulas, and leaning on the legacy of film to tell their stories, Shadow was content to spin its mystery up front and shove you into the blinding sun to fend for yourself and figure out the rest. The entirety of the experience lives deep within me, like some primordial dream. Soaring high above the sprawling desert, clinging to my foe as the wind laps at my unsteady feet. Finding the relief of fire at the bottom of a treacherous crevasse, itself in the shadow of an ancient, endless bridge."

2) "Whether you play wholly in character as I do or tend to keep your entertainment at an emotional arm’s length, Shadow will put your feet to the fire and make you think about your actions in a way that few games ever have—it isn’t just a game about conquering giant beasts, it’s a game about how you feel about conquering them."

3) "Holding the L1 button will focus the camera on a colossus for as long as the button is held, immediately useful in taking in my foe while keeping my distance as I plot my attack. There’s not much space in this clearing, and nowhere else to go—I could climb all the way back down, perhaps find some comfort in seeing Agro again, but there’s no other way to progress. In this way, the game puts my back against the wall while at the same time placing the impetus on me to take action and make the first strike. The colossus patrols nearby, but Wander must disturb its path to begin the battle. While most traditional video game boss battles lock the player in a small arena with an enemy who immediately attacks, Shadow casts the player as the aggressor instead, a distinction with ever-growing importance throughout this tale. It’s the beginning of many role reversals that become more evident as the game progresses—but like many things in Shadow, the theme starts more subtly."

4) "One of my favorite touches here is the visibility of the very bottom of a few of the supporting beams of the bridge from the game’s opening, huge columns embedded deep into the base of the canyon. Again Shadow ’s architecture helps to tie its world together, naturally stitching new locations to previous visual landmarks."

5) "There’s a sadness in Shadow’s spaces, and as thrilling as they are to discover, they’re emotionally taxing to return to. The site of That Horrible Thing I Did, a place to bear witness to the remains of a creature that was once sentient and is now another rocky mound amongst many, thanks to me. In this way, Shadow’s world becomes smaller just as quickly as it expands, the excitement of discovering a new area dashed by the realization that I probably won’t return there."

Second Reading

1) “[Like] so many wonderful moments in life and art, Shadow of the Colossus is defined by the space between its lines: the gulf between its quieter, contemplative moments and its tremendous spectacle. Strung end to end, its titanic battles would make for an amazing if exhausting barrage of action. But driving your horse across an imposing sunbaked expanse, twisting up through shade-mottled woods, only to find your ageless, unwitting foe at rest in the stillness of a lake gives the encounter exactly the breathing room it needs.”

2) “Valus is Ueda’s favorite colossus, a critically important introduction to the true meat of the game—one that took significant trial-and-error to get just right. It feels unfair until the moment it doesn't, all the accomplishment of fighting a ‘boss’ without the typical buildup. But at the same time I feel a bit conflicted by the violence of my actions and the reward of a solemn, uncelebrated death. It's clear even in this first victory that what I'm doing is wrong on some level, though I've journeyed too far to not continue at least a bit further down this road, into the depths of Dormin's deal.”

3) “As I clamber up his shoulder, there's a moment when Gaius seems to have forgotten me, looking out over the beauty of the sprawling lands, still and unthreatened. It doesn't last long, though, and he turns his attention back to the nuisance.
These final moments of fighting Gaius are monumental—it feels like a fight to the death at the top of the world, a clear view for miles in every direction save for the writhing titan beneath me. It's also the first time that the scale of the game is truly communicated. Wander, as a relative ant, on the apex of a stories-tall giant, who's standing on an arena, on top of a towering column of rock, in a lake, in a crater. Somewhere far below, my speck of a horse runs back and forth nervously on the shore.”

4) “Andy Nealen, an expert on minimalist design and an assistant professor of computer science and game design at New York University, regularly uses Shadow as a reference point in his classes. He's also the co-creator of Osmos, a serene puzzle game (and early App Store success) about colliding with smaller objects and avoiding larger ones in a visual Petri dish. Nealen tells me via e-mail, ‘Minimalism allows a designer to have a strong vision, but not describe it in every single detail, thus leaving the player to explore the elements, their connections, and their dynamical meaning. It also means only leaving the best parts in the design: If one part is better than the others, the others become a liability, and need to be removed or radically improved. The best designs and design processes I have witnessed have a 'cutting foor’ that is ten times the size of the final game.’”

5 “[Before] I can fully stand he hits me again—and again—until I'm close to death. I finally manage to dodge one of his blows, luring him back across the courtyard and putting several obstacles between us as I climb back around and above him. He charges the column supporting the upper level that I'm now on and it comes crashing down, shattering off much of his armor and exposing a sigil on his furry back. Without his armor, Cenobia appears much smaller, and the impact of his charges now dizzies him, giving me a moment to jump onto his back. The rest is a messy, violent affair, as Wander is sprayed with the black blood of this bucking beast as its life is drained away. He's become vulnerable as I've become savage, and the city shortly falls silent again.”

6) ”It feels lonely sometimes, having such an intensely personal attachment to a piece of art. While Shadow has affected so many others, no one can really understand what it means to me. Just as I can never understand what it means to them. Or for that matter, anyone's favorite anything. There's a chemistry, possibly even a spirituality, in connecting so deeply with someone else's creation. In many ways, I define my life by relentlessly sharing the things I love with the people I care about.
But that may ultimately come from a selfish place. Maybe it's less about wanting others to experience the same magic and humanity that I felt, and more about wanting to be better understood in some small way.”
Profile Image for Nicholas Zacharewicz.
Author 4 books1 follower
April 18, 2018
Nick Suttner's contribution to the Boss Fight Books catalogue is rather curious to me because it's the first of the series that I've read that covers a 3D game. I mention that because all of the other Boss Fight Books volumes I've read so far have been about games that could be summarized in just a few paragraphs, whereas Suttner goes to great lengths to walk the reader through his playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus. As someone who hasn't played Shadow before, this approach to describing the game didn't always work for me.

Of course, I can understand that the best way to try to convey a very personal experience (as Shadow itself is, as I learned from this book) is to share it, but sharing a video game through text loses something. As a result, though the sections where Suttner is describing his playthrough and his reactions to it are interesting and left me wanting to try the game if I ever get the chance, I can't say they did much to better the book.

On the other hand, the interviews that he cites, and the notes from Fumito Ueda and Kenji Kaido, the two to whom Suttner attributes the final release of the game, are excellent and really go a long way to shed light on how it was developed and came to be. In particular, the little notes about the production-given and fan-given names for all of the colossi and what Ueda was going for with each say a lot about what goes into a game that is intended to be both artful and art. But even the opening section about Ico, which at first was kind of surprising (the book is, after all, about Shadow of the Colossus), turned out to offer an excellent introduction to the atmosphere and themes of Shadow as well as lay the ground work for why the game is so spellbinding.

Ultimately, however, I would have preferred Suttner to shorten his walking us through the game to better match his summary of Ico. As a more involved game, perhaps, Shadow's summary could be a few paragraphs longer, but I feel that too much of this book's 305 pages (as read on a smartphone) were given over to Suttner's long play of the game.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the insight into artful game design and how such games can effect people that Suttner brings together in this book.
Profile Image for Agustín Fest.
Author 36 books65 followers
January 14, 2020
El recuento de un hombre que juega Shadow of the Colossus de principio a fin. Intercala, entre momentos del juego, algunos datos y trivia sobre la creación del producto que está jugando. El autor trabaja (o trabajó) en Sony, lo cual pudo hacer de este recuento algo extremadamente valioso o sabroso para quienes gozamos de estudiar la arquitectura de las cosas o los eventos que nos guiaron hasta tener este juegazo que rompió la industria.

Lamentablemente se desperdicia, pero el viaje personal que hace el autor es rico y probablemente interesará a alguno que otro lector.

No parece un mal libro, pero está lleno de sentimiento, especialmente sentimientos que, por exceso, parecen artificiales de lo fácil que brotan a primeras oportunidades. Libros ensayísticos como este, que de algún modo desean forzar la experiencia individual en vez de ofrecer preguntas o dar oportunidades al lector de crear su propia perspectiva, bueno, libros así rara vez son de mi agrado. Pero se agradece el intento, encontré breves y específicos momentos agradables y sensibles, momentos con los cuáles yo también identifiqué e hicieron preguntarme sobre mis propias experiencias. Elaboré, aunque sea, superficialmente en ellas.

También se agradece la investigación mínima y, como suelo hacer cuando los libros son demasiado personales, cedo calificación alguna para dejarla neutra. Está chido, especialmente recomendable para aquellos fanáticos de Shadow.
Profile Image for ignus.
16 reviews
April 6, 2019
First of all, I didn't play the PS2 original, I only played the PS4 remake. And it was an amazing experience. I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I was curious how the game came to fruition.
I didn't like this book very much however. I was hoping for more insight and interviews on how the game was made and the creative process behind it (as was the case with the other Boss Fight book I read, the one on Katamari Damacy).
What I got was a first person description of how the game plays with little information I was hoping to get. Sure, reading the walkthrough parts made me want to play the game again, but since I lent it, that won't be happening anytime soon.
I disliked the repeated (and lenghty) descriptions on how the author felt playing the game. And explaining himself why he loves this game this much, including personal details from his life I didn't find of any interest to me.
This is why I gave one star. Honestly I was expecting to get something informative instead of something a bit too personal.
Profile Image for Kamel Dupuis-Perez.
7 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2017
What an incredible read! The book made me relive my first and only playthrough of what quickly became my favorite game of all time. I first played Shadow of the Colossus, years ago, during its launch week. Everything I felt and experienced back then, I still think about to this day. The game was that powerful. And this book really captures it. All thoughts, emotions, and questions I had when I played this game are in this book. The author did an amazing job of really laying out why this game is a fantastic work of art.

Even though I only played through this game once, I really dove deep and explored what I thought was the entire map. I played for months. I thought I had seen and found everything the game had to offer. But now, years later, this book showed me there were still a couple of things I had missed! I didn't think there was anything left to learn about this world. But now, I'm tempted to revisit this game, and seek out what I had missed. All thanks to this book.

If you're a fan of this game, you must read this. If you've never played SotC, you must, and then read this book. If you don't really play video games, I would still recommend this book. It really showcases what it's like to experience a work of art.
219 reviews4 followers
January 11, 2017
Suttner parallels a play-through of SotC with a running meta-commentary, covering the game’s design, predecessors, secrets and fan base. It’s very literate, very informative, and altogether a great companion piece to a great game. Some of the Bossfight Books series can be take-it-or-leave-it, but this one is up there with Spelunky as a valuable accompaniment to its subject.
17 reviews
August 28, 2018
Compared to other Boss Fight Books...Books....
This one was very interesting to me. The writing has you going in and out of the writer's experience in life while playing the game, but constantly has you thinking about how to feel about the events in the game. If you've played the game, I strongly recommend you read this as it will have you thinking about a lot of what you did in the game.
Profile Image for Eric.
654 reviews7 followers
May 28, 2019
The author played through the game and novelized his experience, walking through each story beat and stopping at each Colossus to discuss background and influences, both from past games and to future games.

Great overview - I haven't played this one and now I want to experience it.
Profile Image for L. Lawson.
Author 8 books27 followers
January 1, 2021
Odd to read a book about a game I’ve never played, but I like Nick Suttner, so I figured I’d give it a try. Ended up being a great reflection in the game and his experience with it. Now, I want to play the game!
Profile Image for Jan Martinek.
64 reviews28 followers
March 11, 2018
Simplicity of the book mirrors the game. Retelling of the story with some detours noting broader topics has surprisingly familiar shadowy feeling.
Profile Image for Real Pixels.
2 reviews
February 19, 2022
A bit too heavy on the plot retelling (and not heavy enough on the thoughts of the author, developer, and interviewees) but beautifully written nonetheless.
Profile Image for Andrew Scarpati.
105 reviews
December 11, 2018
This is just an LP in the traditional sense. While I appreciate that the game resonated with the author, I don't feel like it was worth the $15.00. This book is a perfect microcosm of all the best and worst of Boss Fight Books in general. Half the time the author goes off on long, self indulgent anecdotal stories, just straight up explains what you do in the game, and costs way too much for the content. On the positive side, there are some interviews with the devs explaining the process of development for the game, and though the writing may be bloated, I'm never actually bored. Just impatient for the author to get back on track.
Profile Image for Ross Orlando.
39 reviews2 followers
July 8, 2016
As my favorite game of all time, I was excited to stumble upon the 10th book of the Boss Fight Books series where people who really love games write about them.

Suttner truly does have a love for the source material and his interspersed anecdotes of real life thing to what was happening in the game worked well most of the time. It is also worth mentioning the the quantity and quality of interviews, sources and quotes that he uses are incredibly impressive including the creator of the game himself, Fumito Ueda.

As a note if you have any intention of playing the game, do so before you read this as the author walks through all of the fights in the game.

All in all this was a solid read. While the format of in-game event then real life event did feel forced at a couple of points, reading through this conjured up the amazing feelings I have for this game. And that's all I can really ask for.
Profile Image for Brian McDonald.
8 reviews2 followers
May 19, 2016
A book about my favourite game on the PS2.

Suttner evokes the world of Shadow brilliantly by describing the landscapes and the majestic colossi in the game. The book takes the form of the authors encounters with the Colossi, interspersed with personal thoughts on what the game means to the author and also the thoughts of game designers and academics.

This is an excellent book for those who love the game, at points Suttner's descriptions take me back to my first play through. There are also some excellent points made about the power of Minimalism in Game Design that all Game Designers should heed.

I would recommend this as a must read for all Shadow players, those who haven't played the game may struggle a bit. I would suggest you play the game and then read this ;)
Profile Image for Gizmo.
115 reviews
February 26, 2017
No esperaba un libro revolucionario pero terminó siendo un poco más básico de lo que mi expectativa dictaba. Sin embargo, tiene algunas entrevistas que no conocía y no encontré en mis búsquedas anteriores por la web. Y lo que más me cerró, además del relato semi a lo walkthrough del total del juego fue que me ayudó mucho a acomodar unas cuantas cosas que tenía dando vueltas en la cabeza sobre este juego del que tengo ganas de escribir algo serio desde hace un buen tiempo. Espero que sea el empujón que necesitaba.

PD: Jueguen SotC.
68 reviews
August 8, 2021
I am an eternal devotee of SOTC; I read every scrap of information I could find prior to it coming out, bought it on release, became immediately obsessed with it, and have never stopped loving it. It remains one of my absolute favorite games.

I enjoyed this (Boss Fight Books makes good stuff) but I didn't get as much out of it as their Final Fantasy V book (which was great). Its a love letter to one of the greatest games ever made, and if you are a fan like me give it a read. Just know its ~100 pages of fan swooning, in a good way.
Profile Image for Kurt.
468 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2015
A combination analysis, "let's play", and love letter of the titular video game. I'm a big fan of the game as well as the previous one from the same team, Ico, and I think Nick Suttner has a good eye for details and an ability to convey his own enthusiasm really well. If you don't have any interest in video games artistically, then this likely won't do much for you, but if you are a fan to begin with, you'll probably enjoy it.
Profile Image for Thomas Maluck.
Author 2 books31 followers
July 1, 2016
Suttner's experience strongly resembled my own playthrough of the game. Where this book's concerned, the most consistently interesting bits had to do with trivia surrounding the game's development and studio's habits. SotC as a game features several repeating elements, and commenting on them in prose becomes a little dull by the end. Still, an observant stroll through an exceptional game (with a significant amount of text devoted to Ico for context/comparison's sake).
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books264 followers
March 4, 2016
I don't think I've ever read a more heartfelt account of how a game can impact someone's life.

On a spoilery tangent, recently I found out how you can triumph over Shadow of the Colossus.
Profile Image for Thomas Hale.
630 reviews17 followers
January 1, 2017
A solid companion to a really excellent game, Suttner walks the reader through challenge by challenge, using each of the game's colossus encounters as a touchstone around which to explore another aspect of its development and impact. A quick read, as all the Boss Fight Books are, but a satisfying one.
Profile Image for Jamie Perez.
162 reviews19 followers
January 17, 2016
This wasn't my favorite of the books, but I'm glad I read it -- if only because Shadow is such an amazing game and this is a great way to revisit it and what it's all about. The book could have benefited from some compression -- maybe not a need to walk through every fight? But read it!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews

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