Background

History

Shadow of the Colossus is an action-adventure game for the Playstation 2. It was released in both Japan and North American in October 2005. It was originally released in Japan as Wander and the Colossus ("ワンダと巨像," Wanda to Kyozō).

Published by Sony Computer Entertaiment (SCEI) and directed by Fumito Ueda, the game was developed by SCEI's International Production Studio 1, also known as Team Ico, the minds behind the classic video game Ico. In a sense, Shadow of the Colossus is considered to be the spiritual successor to Ico.

In September 2011, the game was re-released alongside Ico in North America in The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection for the Playstation 3. The new version featured high-definition graphics as well as content that had been missing in the previous North American version.

Story

Experience a majestic journey through ancient lands, on a quest to bring a girl back to life. The only way to save her is to slay sixteen Colossi... < BOX SUMMARY >
The game follows the story of Wander, a young man who journeys to the Forbidden Lands in the hopes of resurrecting a young maiden named Mono.

Once approaching the Shrine of Worship, the great bastion in the heart of the landscape, he is suddenly attacked by dark creatures. With a mere gesture of his strange sword, he banishes his foes and attains the attention of Dormin, who is surprised that such a weapon is in Wander's possession.

She was sacrificed for she had a cursed fate. Please... I need you to bring back her soul... < WANDER TO DORMIN >
Wander requests Dormin to restore Mono's soul to her body. The latter states that it is possible, provided that Wander use the Ancient Sword to destroy the sixteen colossi that roam the land. They warn of the potential consequences Wander may suffer to revive Mono, but the hero disregards their words and sets out on his journey, accompanied only by his horse, Agro.
Characters

Wander ("ワンダ," Wanda)

Our young hero. Blindly, he accepts Dormin's request to slay all the colossi in the land in exchange for Mono's resurrection. Although the exact nature of their relationship is ambiguous, it is clear he cares deeply for her—enough to sacrifice everything to see her return.

Mono ("モノ," Mono)

A mysterious maiden, dear to Wander. According to him, she was sacrificed due to her "cursed fate." Lifeless, but hopefully not for long. With each colossus' defeat, a bit of her returns.

Dormin ("ドルミン," Dorumin)

Equally mysterious. They seem to possess no shape of their own. They have only their voice, which is a combination of male and female voices. They refer to themselves as "we."

Agro ("アグロ," Aguro)

Wander's trusty steed. She is his only friend in what is a lonely, desolate land. There are some colossi that cannot be defeated without her help.

Lord Emon

Accompanied by his warriors, he is in pursuit of Wander. Later, it is revealed that Wander stole the Ancient Sword, which may be why Emon follows him now. It is clear that he is knowledgeable about the strange realm Wander has entered, including the evils that lurk within.

Colossi ("巨像," kyozō)     ——————

Ah, and who could forget the towering leviathans of the game?
Not us, certainly. In fact, they're so important and so freaking
huge
they deserved their own page.
World

The Forbidden Lands

That place... began from the resonance of intersecting points... They are memories replaced by ens and naught and etched into stone. Blood, young sprouts, sky—and the one with the ability to control beings created from light... In that world, it is said that if one should wish it one can bring back the souls of the dead... But to trespass upon that land is strictly forbidden... < LORD EMON >
The game takes place in the Forbidden Lands ("禁断の地", kindan no ji; or "古えの地," inishie no ji, meaning "land of the ancient times"). The area is quite variant in its geography, including open plains, deserts, forests, mountains, rivers and lakes. Sprinkled throughout the landscape are ruins of lost origins. The only way into the Forbidden Lands is a thin, long bridge that spans from the Shrine of Worship to an entrance at the top of the northern cliffs.

Aside from Wander, Agro and the sixteen colossi, the Forbidden Lands are quite desolate. However,
scattered throughout the area are lizards and fruit trees that Wander can harness in order to
replenish or even increase his health and stamina.

The Shrine of Worship

Located in the heart of the Forbidden Lands, and the sole structure that is connected to the outside world, the Shrine of Worship is the first place Wander enters. A massive structure, it can be seen from virtually anywhere.

Lining the main hall of the shrine are sixteen enormous statues—idols—representing the colossi Wander must vanquish. The corresponding statue is destroyed each time he succeeds in killing one. Whenever he defeats one of the colossi, he is teleported back to the hall. Also located in the main hall is the altar where Mono is kept while Wander sets out to complete his quest. A great broken aperture acts as the room's ceiling, basking it in sunlight. It is from here that Dormin speaks to Wander.

The Shrine of Worship also contains a cylindrical room with a winding ramp and a shallow pool of water. The ramp leads further up the structure, eventually to the bridge that connects the exiled world to the outside as well as the secret garden.

The Secret Garden... and beyond

The secret garden is a courtyard located at the top of the Shrine of Worship. The garden is filled with rich vegetation, such as fruits, and various sorts of animals, some that are noticeably absent in the rest of the Forbidden Lands. It is not the highest point of the shrine, but it is the highest point that can be explored.

The secret garden is generally seen in its full glory only at the end of the game. However, with a series of complicated, glitchy jumps, it is possible for you to scale the shrine's mighty walls and formations to reach it. You can look at an image guide or watch a video walkthrough available on Team Ico Wikia here. Note that the method does not work with the 2011 HD re-release of the game.

Once there, Wander can consume the 37 fruit in the garden. Unlike the other fruit in the Forbidden Lands, eating these will greatly deplete his health and stamina. This oddity is addressed here.

Aside from the secret garden, you can also explore the bridge that connects the Forbidden Lands to the outside world, and even make your way to the entrance. But you cannot exit the region; a great mysterious gust of wind will blow you back should you make the attempt.

Aftermath

Truth and Ruin

Poor ungodly soul... < LORD EMON >
The following sections discuss the ending of the game. If you do not wish to have the ending
utterly and completely spoiled for you, avoid this section entirely.

While the essays touch upon in-game events and dialogue, some inferences made are theoretical and should not be considered canon.