For all its interest in duration and slow travel, Shadow of the Colossus does offer a form of fast-travel that often goes unremarked. We can only ever travel towards the colossi, and the game denies us the ride back to the Shrine of Worship, instead presenting us with an elliptical fade to black after Wander defeats a colossus and slips unconscious. Thus, we always travel towards violence and never ride back to safety; we cannot consciously retreat back to the spiritual place of the Shrine. Shadow of the Colossus denies us the restful state of falling action once we defeat a colossus because a new one immediately takes its place, and the only time to reflect is in the ride towards a new enemy. Contrast this narrative structure with a game like Hotline Miami, which forces the player to retread on violent ground scattered with the bloodied corpses of those killed, thus illuminating one’s savage bloodlust with a sobering journey backwards. Conversely, Shadow of the Colossus is all forward movement, keeping its violence hidden. We rarely (if ever) see the defeated colossi, and the consequences of our actions are out of sight unless players deviate from the main objective and return to previous sites. What remains of the vanquished colossi are grown over with vegetation and seemingly returned to the landscape, thus raising pressing questions of how much time actually elapses in the game. There are questions like this that the game lets sit quietly, left unanswered as we kill one colossus after another. It lingers in the mind as Wander travels silently and alone.
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