The main goal of Shadow of the Colossus is to seek out and kill the sixteen colossi (巨像 Kyozō) in the Forbidden Lands. The colossi are imposing creatures made of stone and dark fur (and sometimes moss) resembling grass. Surprisingly, not all of them are huge in size, but all of them require some thinking to find (and especially to exploit) their magic sigils.
When Wander is killed while fighting a colossus, a game over screen appears, featuring the head of the colossus he was fighting.
- Note that both the given names and the Latin names of the colossi are fictional. They are only used by fans due to the popularity of these names and are not official.
| Colossus |
(number and name)
|Latin Name||Agro *|| Time Attack goals |
(Normal Mode / Hard Mode)
|1||Valus||Minotaurus colossus||No||2:30 / 2:50|
|2||Quadratus||Taurus magnus||Yes||4:00 / 4:30|
|3||Gaius||Terrestris veritas||No||6:00 / 5:00|
|4||Phaedra||Equus bellator apex||Yes||5:30 / 5:00|
|5||Avion||Avis praeda||No||5:30 / 5:30|
|6||Barba||Belua maximus||No||3:30 / 6:30|
|7||Hydrus||Draco marinus||No||12:00 / 8:00|
|8||Kuromori||Parietinae umbra||No||8:00 / 7:30|
|9||Basaran||Nimbus recanto||Yes||7:30 / 5:30|
|10||Dirge||Harena tigris||Yes||6:00 / 5:00|
|11||Celosia||Ignis excubitor||No||5:30 / 5:30|
|12||Pelagia||Permagnus pistrix||No||9:30 / 10:00|
|13||Phalanx||Aeris velivolus||Yes||12:00 / 13:00|
|14||Cenobia||Clades candor||No||9:00 / 9:00|
|15||Argus||Praesidium vigilo||No||11:00 / 11:30|
|16||Malus||Grandis supernus||No||9:30 / 13:00|
|* Denotes whether or not Agro can participate in the fight.|
All colossi have the appearance of gargantuan statues come to life. Though no two are exactly alike, most appear to be made out of stone. Sometimes this stone is amorphous or even cut like the stones of a building, giving the colossus the look of architecture. Some colossi are so massive that green, leafy plants have begun growing on their bodies. Most colossi are (partially) based on animals and creatures.
- Main article: Magic Sigil
The major sigil, a glowing pattern of light similar to the design on Wander's tabard, is the one targeted to slay the colossus. Striking these points inflicts great damage to a colossus and are the only way of mortally wounding them. Some sigils will vanish after a certain amount of damage has been done, forcing Wander to find another.
The minor sigil appears as a crack in the colossus' skin. Striking this does only minor damage, but is often necessary to reach the major sigil.
Colossi have a black, ichorous blood coursing through their bodies. Whenever damage is done to a colossus, this black blood will gush from the wound, creating a black mist. Striking a major sigil on the body will cause a geyser of blood to eject, indicating the severity of damage done.
EyesThe last key feature is their eyes. While no two colossi are alike, many have the same eyes: a glowing, pulsating iris surrounded by black with a deep pupil in the middle.
Whenever a colossus is passive, its eyes are normally a shade of sky blue. When angered or hurt, the eyes glow a fierce orange. One exception is Pelagia, who has no eyes but instead has two tusks on its head that change colors.
Some colossi can generate powerful bursts of energy, and there are places on their bodies that mark the presence of this energy. These colossi can create strong, concussive blasts of brutal force. Others use the energy to further armor themselves against Wander's attempt to scale them and attack their weak spots. Touching these places can do damage to Wander. Colossi that use energy in battles include Hydrus, Kuromori, Basaran, Pelagia, and Malus.
Sixteen gigantic idols line the east and west sides of the Shrine of Worship's main hall. The idols correspond to the colossi; when Wander defeats one, the idol explodes once he is returned to the Shrine (with one exception: Malus' statue implodes earlier, once Lord Emon's entourage reaches the shrine's main hall).
Even after a colossus' idol is destroyed, it is still available in Time Attack before clearing the game again.
The idols are arranged in a specific order. The southernmost one at the east side of the hall belongs to Valus, and Quadratus' idol faces it on the west side of the hall. Gaius' idol is next to Valus', and so on. The idols are all roughly the same size, despite the actual enormous range of sizes in the colossi (especially the relatively small Celosia and Cenobia).
The black tendrils
When Wander kills a colossus, several black tendrils escape from the fatal wound and into Wander. The tendrils cannot be outrun and can even go straight through solid objects if necessary.
When Wander absorbs the tendrils, he blacks out and is later returned to the Shrine of Worship through mysterious means (his unconscious body begins to levitate, and he travels slowly through the air until he reaches the shrine once more. In the game's finale, the first few seconds of this process are shown.)
Dormin's essence accumulates inside Wander with each colossus felled, increasing his health, stamina, and physical strength. This is reflected in the amount of damage a single stab will do to sigils; this becomes very apparent with subsequent playthroughs. Four to five games in, Wander can kill a colossus that has only one major sigil with a single well-charged stab.
If Wander returns to a fallen colossus' lair, one will notice that the corpse of the colossus has turned into a formation of rock and dirt loosely resembling its original form. If is pressed next to (or on top of) any of the remains, Wander will pray before them, and a prompt to enter "Reminiscence Mode" will pop up. Here, the player can choose to fight the colossus again, and if they do, the battle will be loaded up again, complete with a vignetted grainy old-film filter.
The player is not timed in this mode, so this is not a substitute for Time Attack. Much like that mode, however, the battle will end if Wander strays too far from the arena. Also if Wander defeats a colossus in Reminiscence Mode and he dies afterwards, he will be teleported to the corpse of the colossus just defeated.
Pillars of light
After defeating a colossus, a gigantic pillar of light will appear in the skies far above its corpse. These can be seen from every corner of the Forbidden Lands and serve as a record of Wander's travels and deeds. These have been a part of the game from very early on in its development; even early screenshots clearly show a beam of light shooting in the sky with clouds swirling dramatically around it.Their early inclusion in the game and their profound appearance in general has led to many theories about what they symbolize and why it was so important to have them there. One theory is that they are only present in order to remind players about the location of a colossus' corpse if they wish to fight them in Reminiscence Mode. Another, more elaborate theory is that they were created from each time Wander's unconscious body was returned to the Shrine of Worship. A cutscene following the 12th Colossus Pelagia, shows a closeup of a pillar as it is forming; the dramatically swirling clouds and the hole at their center are noticably larger, as if opening up for something to pass through. And, following the death of the 16th Colossus Malus, Wander's body is briefly seen lifting up into the air. The white tunnel that Wander enters before waking within the Shrine is thus the view his soul sees of this process.
A very unique feature of the associated White Tunnel is Wander's ability to hear Mono's voice. It is only here that he hears her as, only here does he enter into the world of souls, albeit unnaturally.