Shadow of the Colossus OST: SO GOOD

Before I start, watch Shadow of the Colossus’ intro:

Just… appreciate that for a moment.
This is one of my favourite soundtracks of all time.
For those who don’t know, Shadow of the Colossus came out in 2005 for the PS2, and it’s interesting because there are only boss fights (it was re-released for PS3 in 2011). No side quests, no mobs, just you riding alone through huge, sweeping landscapes, then finding, fighting, and killing these huge, fascinating Colossi (bosses). Even more interesting is that you don’t really get background music – the game is silent except during cutscenes and boss fights. That makes the soundtrack so much more interesting.

I love the cutscene music. Look at the Prologue, above, for example. The music is calm, relaxed, and somehow gives the distinct impression of unimaginably huge and yet desolate scenery. Other songs sometimes feature a haunting woodwind that makes me feel terribly lonely. Then we get a choir, to give the mournful impression of… well, a greater power, perhaps. The game hinges on this Shrine of Worship, which is clearly portrayed as a holy place. Take this track:

You get the choir, you get the church bells, and you get the organ. But instead of the usual hymns, this sounds mournful, then it turns ominous, as though they’re trying to put the fear of God into you. A warning, perhaps? Something going wrong? Without the cutscene, we don’t know, but I do know that it’s haunting and lovely.

But then out of the cutscene, and you’re back into the silent expanse – until you find a Colossus.

Then you get this hectic piece in a stressful horn line over an almost cacophony of the full orchestra, driven forward by the incessant and demanding bass drums. This kind of music really gets my blood racing, with the desire to do something… something important, maybe. Something that, while dangerous, needs done and I’m the one to do it.

Shocking confession: I haven’t played Shadow of the Colossus (I watched a friend play it – but I promise it’s on my list). I still love this soundtrack. I haven’t even played the game and the songs evoke such strong emotions in me – they make me sad or scared or determined, and this is on their own merit. That’s what makes this soundtrack so good: it can manipulate my emotions without even needing the game. So with that in mind, you should really give it a listen: it’s for your own good. Trust me.

  • Ando

    It truly is a fine score! Few games have ever given me quite the same rush in combat, and no down a large part of it was down to the score.

    I love that you bring up the silence aspect as well; people seem to forget that music design is not just about choosing music that fits the mood, but also excluding it when appropriate, and SotC did that to beautiful, haunting success. I hope you get a chance to get around to it, soon; I only played it for the first time last year, and it truly is a unique experience.

    There are actually a few soundtracks I’ve listened to a lot without having ever played the games myself as well, haha. Chrono Cross, NieR (which I actually did end up purchasing because I was listening to the score to much), Guild Wars, and flOw come to mind. NieR in particular really got to me — the whole thing is just so GORGEOUS, and though I had absolutely no context for any of the music, I could picture whole dramatic scenes playing out as I listened (and, to my delight, the music choice in the game is so unique; turned out I was completely wrong about where a few of the tracks would fit in!). As you say, that’s the mark of a good soundtrack, right there. When you can immerse yourself in it not because you love the game, but because the music is just THAT good.

    • // DireMuffin

      Holy crap, I just listened to the NieR OST – yeah, that’s also going on my faves list. I’ll have to check out the others, too. Thanks! :D

  • // Brandon Whitworth

    What I love about the soundtrack in this game is, even though I haven’t played it in YEARS, the music takes me right back to the very first time I played it.

  • GaySkull

    Epic OST!