The plot unfolds through cut scenes as the game progresses and the puzzles provide plenty of challenge to keep you exploring and guessing. From hitting switches and moving blocks to blowing up pillars, using Ico's weight to drop objects, and figuring out mechanics, there's plenty going on at any given time. Throughout all of this, the pressing need to protect Yorda is always in the back of players minds. It's easy to get stumped by puzzles, but there's always the nagging sense that danger is right around the corner and only you can stop it. It's a rather tense experience for such an atmospheric game and it doesn’t take much to get sucked in.
From start to finish, Ico is a unique game that stands as a point to the video games as art argument. It's beautiful, detailed, and fun to play. That's a winning combination in anyone's book, but adding 2005's Shadow of the Colossus to the package really makes it a stunning collection.
Shadow of the Colossus is by no means a direct sequel, but rather a spiritual successor. There are several references between the two even if they are largely in atmosphere and unspoken connections.
In Shadow of the Colossus players take on the role of Wander, who is a young man attempting to bring his beloved Mono back from the land of the dead. In order to do so Wander ventures to a far away land and seeks a contract with Dormin, an ancient god of sorts. Dormin informs Wander that it is possible to resurrect Mono, but in order to do so he will have to defeat the Colossi, ancient guardians of this land. Wander agrees and sets out on the hunt with his trusty horse Agro.
Once again Team Ico nailed the atmosphere in their game. The world is masterfully portrayed with minimalistic intent. There's nothing around Wander and Argo except for nature, ancient ruins, and expansive mountain ranges and rivers. It's daunting to take in but traversing from one side of the continent to the other guided by the light from Wander's sword is relaxing and rewarding. The only figures that Wander actually interacts with during the course of the game are the massive Colossi that he must defeat.
The Colossi are towering monstrosities that would be considered bosses in any other game. There are sixteen of these beasts in the world and they are the only enemies players will encounter. Each such battle is epic in scope as Wander must climb his prey, find a way to stop them, search out their weak-point, and try to not be killed in the process. It's white knuckled tension at its best and having this type of climax after a peaceful ride through the landscape is a dynamic contrast.