Shadow of the Colossus is an absolute masterpiece.
The second game from Team Ico (the same studio behind the oft-delayed The Last Guardian) is like playing through a work of art. It's an experience - and, while many modern games use similar descriptors as an excuse for lackluster gameplay, Shadow of the Colossus manages to find the sweet spot between interactive art show and playable video game.
It's a formula that's rarely imitated: sure, games have featured plenty of giant monsters that require climbing, but few have ever tried to match Shadow of the Colossus on an emotional level. Team Ico's classic largely focused on death, guilt and manipulation - themes that only a few select developers would ever try to touch on.
Enter No Matter Studios: composed of three industry veterans, the team is taking a shot at Shadow of the Colossus' throne. Prey for the Gods, a new independent game seeking funding on Kickstarter, is directly inspired by Team ICO's PlayStation 2 classic. It's an ambitious title, especially for just three people - even so, it's clear that No Matter Studios is looking to push the envelope in terms of world design and gameplay.
For those who never played the original, Shadow of the Colossus was essentially a boss-rush mode. Players only ever fought the game's sixteen colossi - once they were dead, the game was over. Armed only with a sword, a bow and a grip gauge, players had an intentionally limited arsenal, and Shadow of the Colossus almost felt like more of a puzzle game than a traditional action-adventure title.
That was 10 years ago however, and gamers are expecting more. Rather than simply stick to the formula laid out by Team Ico, No Matter Studios is wisely expanding on the game's mechanics. Prey for the Gods isn't a linear run through the different bosses - instead, players can explore the world, upgrade their gear and tackle foes in whichever order they choose.
These changes ripple throughout Prey for the Gods' design, implying that the game will have a much more open feel, as if players can approach any battle from any angle. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen, but it's a huge departure from the strictly regulated pace of Shadow of the Colossus.
One aspect of the design that may limit Prey for the Gods is its scale. Shadow of the Colossus featured 16 different fights, while Prey for the Gods will only launch with five. There are more fights planned as stretch goals, though it's always hard to tell how a game will perform on Kickstarter - as of now, the sixth, seventh and eighth boss fights aren't set in stone.
That being said, it's hard not to get excited about Prey for the Gods. The game has come a long way since its debut last year, and it's absolutely gorgeous. The creature design, the environmental detail, the way the snow gently falls from the sky - Prey for the Gods oozes with atmosphere, and that's before players even start fighting.
Smart additions to gameplay mechanics (such as a new grappling hook) allow for a deeper connection to both combat and the environment itself, and new survival mechanics ensure that players are never truly safe.
Long story short, Prey for the Gods may look and feel similar to Shadow of the Colossus, but it's already clear that No Matter Studios hasn't ignored the past 10 years of video game development, either.
As of this writing, Prey for the Gods is doing well: with 29 days left to go, the Kickstarter campaign has already raised more than $87,000 out of the total $300,000. If the team can keep this momentum going, they not only have a good shot at hitting their overall funding requirements, but quite a few of their stretch goals as well.
If you'd like to help fund the game (or simply want to know more about the project), you can head over at the official Prey for the Gods Kickstarter page.