When the Shadow of the Colossus remake from Bluepoint Studios arrived on PS4 earlier this month, some players were surprised to learn that it was not, as they'd predicted, a 1:1 remake. The controls and physics are ever so slightly different, yes, but the real kicker was a strange clue spotted in the game's credits: a special thanks to "Nomad Colossus and the 79 steps to enlightenment".
Nomad Colossus is the name of a YouTuber who posts deep dives into the Team Ico games, showing off hidden areas, glitches, or just model animations and sizes. But the "79 steps to enlightenment" was a mystery. This prompted players to search the remake for new secrets, and indeed, they found some in the form of 79 golden coins littered across the map. The final coin was gathered last night, and the mystery has been unlocked.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead
It turns out, the coins open a door which was permanently sealed in the original version of the game. Head through the door and down some stairs and you'll find a sort of shrine with a sword held aloft in the middle. This is the big reward for collecting all 79 coins.
Okay, but it's probably a pretty powerful sword, right? Without a guide to lead the way it would take a player hours to find all of these coins, and even if they were led by the nose it's still quite the trek. Surely it's like a one-hit killing machine?
Well, no. The sword Wander (our hero) wields through Shadow of the Colossus is imbued with what seems to be good-aligned magical power and refracts beams of light to shine a path leading to your next foe. This sword, the Sword of Dormin, is covered in black tendrils of smoke and points the way with a beam of darkness instead of light. It also increases your attack damage at the cost of health regeneration.
In short, it's cool, but nothing game-breakingly amazing. And while that has some players who were hoping for something a bit more significant - like a new part of the map or one of the game's many colossi cut during development making its way back into the game - most seem pretty content with the result.
"I love the chase better than the catch with stuff like this, and it's given me the opportunity to explore more of my favorite game of all time's world, found a few neat new areas along the way and just kind of enjoyed the scenery," says Reddit user Docjackal.
"I've been secret-hunting in this game since it came out on PS2. I'm just happy for anything new at this point after so long chasing ghosts and glitched textures. I'm happy I got to see the first person to publicly find it live and be there to share in his excitement, and I'm definitely still going to look for the enlightenments myself. This doesn't take away from my enjoyment or awe at what Bluepoint have managed to do at all, and I would've been perfectly happy with this remake even without the new collectible hunt."
What I'm curious about is how this affects the way people see Shadow of the Colossus for PS4. The sword isn't just a cosmetic skin - it exists in the game world. There's a pedestal holding it, purposefully designed to evoke the game's ultimate big bad, Dormin. So does that make its existence canon, and does a remake have a right to change a classic in such a way?
Personally, I don't think it's worth seriously worrying over. It's just a fun, small addition that Bluepoint could add to leave its mark on the game while giving fans something new that didn't deviate too much from the original designs. But hey, it's a fun thought exercise - after all, Shadow of the Colossus' lore is already so obtuse and difficult to permeate that I could easily see someone trying to justify the Sword of Dormin's existence and how it connects to Ico and The Last Guardian.
The general sentiment on social media and forums is that the journey to find the coins was more important than the destination; being given a chance to explore a game you thought you knew everything about in a new light is more meaningful than an attack damage boost. I agree, but I'd also go one step further and argue that fans are still on that journey. As long as people are talking about what this sword means or what that door implies, Shadow of the Colossus will continue to take us all for a wild ride.
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