Kow Otani
Shadow of the Colossus: Roar of the Earth


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (179 Reviews)
April 9th, 2013 | 19 replies | 2,281 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Breathtaking.

I recently wrote a few college essays discussing how I'd consider modern video games "art" right alongside movies, music, and literature. I got agreements and refutations alike; the subject is still considered highly debatable, and people really don't seem to take it lightly. I was explaining everything like the cinematic elements, music, graphics, blah blah blah... but people still seemed to keep their points to themselves. Throughout all of this, all that kept coming to mind were some of the games that could be used as examples of this argument: the Final Fantasy series, the Metal Gear Solid series, and of course, the legendary Team Ico duo of games for the Playstation 2.

Team Ico, hailing from Japan and headed by game designer Fumito Ueda, have only made two games so far (ICO and Shadow of the Colossus) which have been exceptionally well-received and considered cult classics. To many, however, these games go beyond just being video games... they're considered examples of modern interactive art, as well as emotionally resonant with the majority of gamers who play them. One of the biggest factors in these statements is obviously the music of Shadow of the Colossus composed by Kow Otani, who is well-known for his scores to several monster movies. Unlike the music from that movie genre, however, this is much different. Imagine a fully-orchestrated Hollywood action score mixed with a Japanese new age and Romantic-era compositions; all of these elements collide to make the beautiful score known as Shadow of the Colossus: Roar of the Earth.

The orchestral moments that symbolize the climactic battles against the titular "Colossi" are absolutely superb, giving you a rush of energy when facing these great beasts. The two finest pieces in this category have to be "The Opened Way" and "A Despair-Filled Farewell"; the former is considered a standard in the world of game music, with the sweeping string arrangements combined with pound tribal drumbeats. Little embellishments here and there, such as descending violin runs and flute trills, add to the layered sound of the piece while other strings illustrate the musical backdrop. "A Despair-Filled Farewell" is even better, filling the player with a tense feeling as it plays out. Ascending and descending runs from the string section and flutes begin the song as the intro builds up and stops twice. After this, the song really begins; there's an assault of frantic outbursts from the brass instruments before the strings take over and have their say. The climax is the best part, with the choir coming in and making the piece even more epic and the strings now presiding over the once-mighty horns. The trombone does make a nice appearance near the end to close things out, though. The other fast-paced songs generally continue in the vein of these two song, with a few songs such as "Gatekeeper of the Castle Ruins" and "Grotesque Figures" also fleshing out slower arrangements to let the atmosphere build up around the player. Finally, the last one I'd like to mention of these pieces is "Silence." Aptly titled, the song is minimalism done right; starting with a few dissonant harmonies and stray melodies from the strings, the cellos start to build up the song in intensity before all the instruments drop out of the picture and the minimalist melody closes the piece out. In the game itself, this composition is generally used when a colossus is soaring above you and you can't reach it; once you latch onto the colossus, the music becomes one of the faster pieces to suit the battle.

The slower, more reflective songs are even better. This is where that "new age" influence kicks in, and it works wonderfully to represent the landscapes and overall tone of the game. "The Sunlit Earth" is my personal favorite, combining swift piano runs with soothing flute work; it really lives up to the title, suggesting hope at the end of the darkness that's surrounding the video game. The Epilogue piece is also fantastic, another minimalist piece that contrasts a sense of despair with a lighthearted string arrangement that brings a ray of light just as "The Sunlit Earth" does. The small pieces are great too; "Sanctuary" is a half-minute burst of strings and what sound like synthesizers, as the door to the final boss's environment opens before the player. "Lakeside" is a nice, soothing folk melody for introducing the vast lake that would hold one of the more entertaining bosses in the game, while "Green Hills" provides a more foreboding atmosphere with it's melancholic flute harmonies. Additionally, the way these songs contrast with the high-energy orchestral pieces is absolutely wonderful; in terms of track placement, the songs balance each other in a superb fashion. There's never too much of one style going on, and the score flows very well.

There are a few tiny problems, such as some unnecessary pieces (the reprise of "The Farthest Land" sounds almost identical to the original composition) and overlong runtimes, but they are very minor when compared to how great the score is as a whole. Kow Otani should be very proud, as these compositions are better than what you would hear on many of Hollywood's best works; plus, the combination of dynamic symphonic arrangements and emotionally-charged new age music is breathtaking. If you want a score that's extremely original and emotionally resonant, this is an absolute must! Oh, and buy the game while you're at it; that's wonderful too.



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Shadow Of The Colossus: Roar Of The Earth is a soundtrack that should make just about ever contempor...


Comments:Add a Comment 
FiveLeavesLeft
April 9th 2013



9838 Comments


Just thought I'd review something a bit different. I fucking love both this game and this soundtrack :]

FiveLeavesLeft
April 9th 2013



9838 Comments


My only complaint with the last level is that I wish The Opened Way was reprised for the last colossus

Ecnalzen
April 9th 2013



6501 Comments


I didn't really like this game. It seemed like you just ran to a location, climbed on a giant thing, and then stabbed it in strategic locations until it died. I think made it to the 3rd or 4th boss before I quit playing. Maybe it changed up a little after that, I don't know, but I got tired of it.

Shogun
April 9th 2013



414 Comments


good stuff, Ico's soundtrack is equally awesome

CaptainDooRight
April 9th 2013



28864 Comments


oh sweet dude I gotta hear this hard. I love game soundtracks

Havey
April 9th 2013



9653 Comments


I didn't really like this game. It seemed like you just ran to a location, climbed on a giant thing, and then stabbed it in strategic locations until it died. I think made it to the 3rd or 4th boss before I quit playing. Maybe it changed up a little after that, I don't know, but I got tired of it.


Nah man you're doing it all wrong. Shadow of the Colossus isn't really about cool fights and beating bosses, for me it's all about the atmosphere. That feeling of loss and loneliness, as well as mystery and exploration. The atmosphere it managed to create is amazing (much thanks to the soundtrack). I mean, it is slow-paced, but it's also indescribably beautiful. Matter of taste tho obv

FiveLeavesLeft
April 9th 2013



9838 Comments


Yeah, I love it for the atmosphere, and that's why I like the music so much. The colossi are entertaining as hell to fight too, though

Ecnalzen
April 9th 2013



6501 Comments


I might try it out again. It has been a long time since I played it. I just remember repeatedly falling off of a boss that was over a large body of water and getting pissed because I had to swim back to the starting point and start over again, lol.

I wasn't as into video game soundtracks when I played it as I am now, so I don't remember that aspect of it.

FiveLeavesLeft
April 9th 2013



9838 Comments


I've beaten the game over 10 times :P

YoYoMancuso
April 9th 2013



11027 Comments


amazing soundtrack even better game.

FiveLeavesLeft
April 9th 2013



9838 Comments


Fuckyeah

ConcubinaryCode
April 9th 2013



2066 Comments


I bought the HD collection of this and ICO a few weeks back. Might dive into it later.

FiveLeavesLeft
April 9th 2013



9838 Comments


I have a copy of the original PS2 Ico, which is really expensive because of how rare it is now :3

demigod!
April 9th 2013



44162 Comments


epic soundtrack

Digging: Failure - Magnified

FiveLeavesLeft
April 10th 2013



9838 Comments


^ Only a 4? =(

demigod!
April 10th 2013



44162 Comments


idk i havent heard it since i played the game years ago lol

never did finish it but sweet soundtrack

FiveLeavesLeft
April 12th 2013



9838 Comments


Great stufffff

ShitsofRain
July 29th 2013



5865 Comments


epic game

OhCarrots
September 7th 2013



335 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I might try it out again. It has been a long time since I played it. I just remember repeatedly falling off of a boss that was over a large body of water and getting pissed because I had to swim back to the starting point and start over again, lol."

That's the 5th Colossus, which is that bird creature that dives at you :P




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