Oh, what’s that, I actually added another entry into this Hindenburg-sized endeavor? Yes yes, it’s true. I feel like I need to make a joke at my expense like that with every entry or I’m insulting some kind of of god that determines whether I succeed or fail. Regardless, did you notice I also finally added some continuity to my usual “END TRANSMISSION” outro? Yes, we’re growing all the time here at Michael Wettengel’s Workplace (I don’t know why I linked that. There is no need to click on it. You are already on that very blog).
Well, today we begin our slow, slogging dive into the lore of the individual Colossi. Each one is unique and fantastical in its own way. Now sit back and let me convince you of that point! And also convince you that you can have almost no solid basis for stating something factually and it can still sound rather convincing.
Valus, or Minotaurus Colossus, by SotC community, is the first of sixteen Colossi encountered by Wander in the Forbidden Lands. Its lair is very close to the Shrine of Worship, being an almost straight shot south into a valley that must be scaled by jumping over holes and climbing up hanging vines.
As we will see as we examine these Colossi, most Colossi have some kind of ruined temple located in or very near its arena. Alternatively, those that do not have dedicated temple structures always have some kind of evidence of civilization regulated to their purpose. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that each of the sixteen Colossi is also very clearly an idol in the Shrine of Worship. Thus, their religious/spiritual importance should already be rather clear. And yet, people/things are not worshiped just to be worshiped (minus reality-TV personalities), so it is important to examine just why a particular Colossi would be revered and what it would be revered for. Also, I will attempt to make the point, after my oh-so-poignant observations on the matter, to support my before-mentioned theory that the Colossi, once animated by Dormin and a Shaman’s soul, acts in ways in accordance with its spiritually-endowed nature.
Looking at architecture first, the area immediately preceding Valus’ arena has several old-looking pillars and a squat staircase in it. A path rises up out from the area that runs up the cliff-face. The path seems largely decayed, even not having a way up to the path proper (Wander must use vines to begin climbing the cliff) and having many chunks of the floor missing. Also, a pillar has fallen over that Wander must roll through and there appears to be wooden boarding set up to bridge a gap in the path that looks very incongruous with the rest of the mossy stonework. In fact, wood in general seems to be a very rare material in the Forbidden Lands. This is likely because most wood used in human structures would have decayed, especially in the northern, western, and southern sections of the Lands where either damp salty sea either or dry and harsh desert sands would have quickly decayed. And then, once up in Valus’ area, an old, decayed temple can clearly be seen as part of the valley wall. Indeed, it has become part of the rock face, becoming wholesomely integrated by what looks like a mixture of design choice and time. Indeed, the Temple seems to cleanly “inserted” into the rock for it to just be there by simple decay.
You know what, I’m really into the idea of this whole “wood bridge” thing, so I’m going to make a whole new branch of my theory about Valus and about the Forbidden Lands as a whole: Wander is not the first person to reach the Forbidden Lands and attempt to challenge the Colossi. However, I will not speak too much on this matter now and will only mention it as it appears in relation to the Colossi. However, I’ll give you all a bit of a spoiler: whoever they were didn’t make it very far (see, Quadratus). Still, the little wooden bridge being erected so some poor bastard could challenge Valus (and lose) is something I just thought I’d point out.
I think I’ll just wrap this idea up right now, actually since it doesn’t seem too terribly relevant to any other Colossus… I mentioned before that the person, whoever he/she was didn’t get very far in his/her endeavors. Given that all of the Colossi are still alive, only activate once the previous ones had been destroyed, and can only be destroyed by the Ancient Sword, it seems unlikely that anything of significance happened before Wander came and f—ed up stuff. After all, without the Ancient Sword, not only would it be impossible to slay a Colossus, but even finding one would be a huge challenge. Dormin only speaks to Wander once It realizes he has the Ancient Sword. So, without Dormin’s guiding advice, how would anybody know where these ancient beasts in ancient lands be resting? They wouldn’t, that’s how! Or, if they did, it would take them a very long while indeed.
It is important to note that Sign of the Colossus, a relatively common pre-fight song will play when Wander enters the cliff area. Meaning, the climb up the cliffs is part of the Colossus’ domain and should be thought of as being closely interrelated. Thus, if Valus’ path up to its temple was intentionally made difficult so that only rugged life/people (and things with wings [read as: hawks]) could make their way up, it would only logically follow that part of the Colossus’ “trial” for its devotees would have its music playing during. This idea of devotees and the Colossus’ “trial” will be coming back quite a bit. Few Colossi have easily-accessible lairs and each lair is a reference to the Colossus that presides over it, such as Valus’ mountains and Phaedra’s graves. It’s a cyclical relationship; the Colossi preside in realms crafted for them because they were crafted to preside over said realm. So, the worshippers of Valus, the Spirit of the Mountains, would need to prove themselves and become like unto the hawks that encircle the Colossus, before they could be worthy of its presence. Well, the presence of its inanimate statue (meaning, when it was just an object of worship and not a giant rocky death machine). When I get around to talking about Dormin, I’ll be sure to outline how I thought events went down in the Forbidden Lands.
The only thing I find worth noting about Valus is how architectural it is. There is an entire balcony jutting out of its back and its weapon appears to be nothing more than an enormous moss-covered pillar (unlike Gaius’ andArgus’ more distinctly weapon-like tools). I take this as a sign that Valus was one of the first Colossi to be constructed by the people of the Forbidden Lands (with Pelagia being the last, for those who are curious. But I’ll get more into that later). Given how mountainous and how velley-ous the Lands are, plus the persistent presence and strength (you can catch a ride on them for goodness sake!) of the hawks, I see it as reasonably possible that the first idol constructed would be tribute to those natural elements. Its close proximity (along with the 2nd Colossus, Quadratus) to the Shrine also may speak of its early creation.
Furthermore (and finally, I swear!), Valus’s status as being the first Colossus and thus, the one that is always awake and active, speaks further to the people of the Forbidden Land’s love and respect for the mountains and their rugged wildlife. Valus never sleeps and never wavers. It has one of the most open arenas, similar to Gaius and Phaedra, so it has virtually nowhere to hide or conceal itself. Valus, like the mountains it was built to embody, personifies the strength of nature is dauntless in that.
Next Entry: Colossus #2, Quadratus
I have no idea what entry will be coming up next! As per usual, really. These Colossus entries are much more bite-sized and easy to manage, whereas the next likely candidate for an entry is Dormin… who will have a gargantuan entry all to Itself. Besides, this game is Shadow of the Colossus, not Shadow of Dormin! Even though that name also makes quite a bit of sense… But I shall say no more until It’s own entry. Because then I can layer on the Spoiler Alerts until I am virtually guiltless.
It’s all part of my MASTER PLAN.
Which is still a work-in-progress.
Good luck you brave writer (and gamer) folk!
1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.
2. Screenshots from in-game cutscenes
3. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus