To know me is to know that I love my yearly series, and here’s a new a one! This year I’m taking on the 30-Day Video Game Challenge (30VGC). Though, actually, it’s going to be more like the 26-Week Video Game Challenge, since I’ll only be covering two or three topics from the challenge each month. You can check out my intended schedule in this post. With that, it’s game on!
This one’s pretty easy for me, because I don’t generally find myself getting extremely emotional during or from games. This may be due to the fact that I’m mostly dead inside, but I digress.
It’s easy for me because when those rare emotional moment do occur, I don’t find them easy to forget. And this leads me to one of the most unforgettable games I’ve recently played…
Shadow of the Colossus.
<<SPOILERS TO FOLLOW>>
SERIOUSLY IF YOU’VE NOT PLAYED THIS OR ITS REMASTER AND YOU WANT TO THEN STOP READING AND GO PLAY IT
If you’re familiar with Shadow of the Colossus, then you likely know which tear-triggering scene I’m going to mention. Yep…it’s that one. Well, not THAT one…the other one. The one that…yes…yeah… that other one. And here’s my story.
In Shadow of the Colossus, you play as a young man named Wander who has tasked himself with saving his love, Mono. Doing so requires him to defeat a number of giant “monsters” strewn throughout his land. The only things at Wander’s disposal are a sword and his horse Agro. And as things went for me, Agro turned out to be a goddamn handful. Of course Agro proved necessary to get from one colossi to the next, but otherwise, she pretty much had a mind of her own. I had the absolute worst time trying to control her throughout 90% of the game. This especially came to light during “battles” in which Wander actually had to ride Agro for one reason or another. During my time with the game, I had to repeatedly take extended breaks between colossi, and that was at least partially due to my frustration with Agro. Sure, some of the colossi were difficult to deal with too, but least of all did I want to trying to wrangle that damn horse. My PS3 controller retains a single, hairline crack from the scenario with the 13th colossus, Phalanx, which required me to both aim arrows AND try to direct Agro at the same time. My inability to do either well nearly caused me to throw my entire PS3 against a brick wall. In fact, all I did was throw my controller on the floor. Once. Not good. Hence, the teeny tiny fracture that’s now there to always remind me of all of this.
Anyway, while much of my time with the game could likely be characterized as “sad” due to my poor gamesmanship, the actual emotional moment in question occurred on the way to meeting the final colossus. At one point Wander rides Agro to a deep chasm that can only be crossed using an old stone bridge. (Believe me, I spent a good bit of time looking for any other way around to no avail.) As with so many bridges in so many games, the thing crumbled away as you passed over it. I trued several time to get Wander to run over it alone, but he simply wasn’t quick enough. So then I tried it with Agro. After a few tries without Agro gaining enough speed, I finally managed to get the duo to the end of the bridge…
…only to have the unthinkable happen.
Just as Wander and Agro reached the last stone, the bridge completely gave way. But not before Agro kicked Wander off her back and to safety. And Agro…well…she ended up at the bottom of the chasm.
The first time it happened, I was stunned. I thought I had done something wrong, pushed the wrong button or had bad timing. While still in a stupor, I reloaded the game and tried again.
And…the results were the same.
I sat there, watching a increasingly awful-looking Wander get up on the other side of the chasm…without Agro by his side. I realized that she — this horse with whom I had met with such extreme frustration — had sacrificed herself to save Agro.
The wave of emotional went something like shock, sickness, then absolute despondency. (Followed further by a little anger, y’know, just for good measure.) Oh, how it hurts to recall the scene with such clarity even now.
To that moment, I had never been so moved by a game, ever. And Shadow of the Colossus wasn’t at all done dealing out the heartache either. But that another story.