166 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2011
It's difficult to believe that over 10 years have passed since Ico was first released, alongside other 2001 classics like Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X. Unlike those two games, Ico fared poorly in the sales charts, despite its incredible graphics, great story and gameplay.
However, this was not the end, as 4 years later, the second game by "Team Ico", Shadow of the Colossus (SotC), was strongly promoted and achieved much better sales figures.
Now, Sony has breathed a second life into these games, thanks to this hi-def PS3 re-release.
Both games have been significantly enhanced in this PS3 remastery by Bluepoint Games (who also remastered the God of War Collection and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 games), with the most important changes being:
+ 720p or 1080p @ 30fps framerate, with very little slowdown as found in the PS2 version during intense Colossus battles
+ Native widescreen support for Ico
+ Gameplay is ported from the European version, with the extra puzzle, weapon, and other small changes
+ Trophies! [16 for Ico, 31 for SotC]
+ 7.1 surround sound
+ Behind the scenes videos + 2 dynamic themes (yours to keep!)
+ Reversible cover insert containing original cover art for both games
= 3D support (but only at 720p, and framerate reduces down to 15fps during some of the battles in SotC)
- Textures appear to be more detailed, but they still look blocky close up, and the polygons look the same
- The menu/map in SotC is stretched on a widescreen TV, while the menu for Ico looks sharp and completely redone
I have already beaten Ico and the first few battles of SotC on PS2, and am finding this remake just as enjoyable, especially since there is virtually no slowdown even at 1080p. Do realize that both of these games are relatively short with limited replay value (<5 hours for Ico and <10 hours for SotC, much more if you want all of the trophies). The high production values of both games is maintained during their short stories, and you will likely spend several hours just looking at the beautiful environments in both games (especially Ico). The orchestrated music during each battle in SotC is terrific and fitting, as are the ambient sounds throughout both games. The controls are very simple, but some of the puzzles/colossus battles are incredibly challenging the first time around.
An in depth comparison of the various graphical settings can be found at eurogamer.net [...]
For the $40 MSRP, you are still getting a good bargain, even if the games have been out for 6-10 years, as the visual experience is so much better on an HDTV (if you don't have an HDTV, get one).
Now go out and save a "princess"!
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
I was very excited to hear about this release. I was concerned, however, that 1080p simply meant the output signal. But this is not the case. The polygons haven't changed, but the textures were redone at a higher resolution. This makes the characters somewhat blocky, but the incredible detail of the texture makes it worth it. The scenery is even more breathtaking than before.
Ico is much more immersive than the ps2 version. Ico is a puzzle built around spacious architecture. At a higher res, the illusion of depth in these spacious buildings is stronger.
Shadow of the Colossus naturally has more polygons, so the added high-definition makes you feel like you are playing a game made for the ps3.
This game collection is a keeper for me.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2013
Every once in a while, a game comes along that is more than a game. It goes beyond the preconceived notions that we have about what a video game should look like, feel like and sound like. These gems are far more than just video games, they are experiences in and of themselves. While these treasures are rare to find, with this collection, you have two such games displayed in glorious HD for your Playstation 3 console on one convenient disc.
Ico was my first stop on this disc, and what an experience it is. Ico puts you in the shoes of a little boy who has been cast out and sent to a dark, desolate castle to die simply because he has horns. After breaking free from his prison, Ico begins to wander the dark castle and discovers a majestic looking girl named Yorda locked inside of a cage. He frees her, and the story begins.
Ico essentially functions as one large escort mission- something that would turn most gamers off. Make no mistake, however, this is one escort that you will remember for a lifetime. While guiding Yorda through the castle, you will encounter puzzles, platforming sequences and enemies. What makes Ico unique, however, is that the only enemies you will find throughout the main game are shadow creatures. These shadow creatures have been sent to drag Yorda into their shadow portals at all costs and it is your job to ensure that she does not get whisked away, lest you face a game over.
There are many aspects of Ico that challenge the preconceived ideologies we think a video game should have. But perhaps the biggest one is that the only way to view a game over screen, is to have Yorda be taken away by shadow creatures, or falling from a cliff. This ensures that no matter what, you will always have an eye on Yorda- and that is exactly what the developers had in mind.
The puzzles in Ico aren't terribly challenging, but they aren't cakewalks either. Prepare to spend some time pushing blocks around and swinging from ropes before you finally see the correct method of advancing. As you solve puzzles in a way that allows Ico to progress, you must also ensure that Yorda never strays too far behind and that she will be able to advance with you. Taking her by the hand, you lead her through the puzzles and dazzling locales.
When shadow creatures attack, prepare for an adrenaline rush. They come from all angles, swooping in, swinging at Ico and making every attempt to drag Yorda off. It is these fight sequences that offer the most intense and well crafted parts of the game. If Yorda begins to get dragged off, your eyes immediately go to the shadow creature as you begin an all-out sprint to ensure she isn't dragged into a shadow pit.
The environments and music of Ico are truly dazzling. The environments look fabulous on the PS3, displaying beautiful skies, desolate looking castle textures and rough looking waters well below the castle's confines. The music is gorgeous in its simplicity. Don't go into this game expecting a Danny Elfman arrangement. What music there is plays subtly and this allows for you to hear the interactions between Yorda and Ico as well as the occasional sound of a gull flying overhead or a wave crashing down below the castle.
As you make your way through the game, you will feel more like you are experiencing a divine vision. No part of Ico feels forced upon the gamer, or like a chore. Give Ico a couple of hours. For some, it takes time to get used to because it is unlike anything you have ever played. Allow yourself to get a couple of hours in, even if you become frustrated. You will thank yourself that you did.
Ico ends beautifully and heroically and will leave you questioning just how far companionship manifests itself in your own life. The emotional attachment that the developers have you experiencing with Yorda is absolutely unparalleled and makes this truly a must play for anyone who considers themselves a gamer.
Ico isn't quite perfect, however. Some minor things weigh it down, including a camera that can be downright frustrating. The camera is rather passive in terms of how much control you have over it, so often times you will be unable to see what lies ahead of you as you run down a castle path. Other times, the camera will be positioned in such a way that you can't see a particular jump. This caused me to fall to my death or lose Yorda more than a few times throughout the game. This hiccup is easily overlooked in the grand scheme of this piece of art, however.
Many will also criticize Ico for being too short, but I do believe this is how the developers imagined it. Ico will take most gamers around five hours on average. My play time ended up being about six and a half because of the time I spent appreciating the environments. For some players, you may finish in less than five hours, and this is fine. The length of this game should by no means deter you from experiencing it. Play it all the way through and don't worry about a total play time.
In the grand scheme of things, art is made to be appreciated, regardless of how long it takes you to appreciate it, and draw meaning from it. Ico functions in a similar way. Whether you are advanced enough to blaze through in three hours, or so slow that it takes you eight, you will be touched by a rare gem of a game that delivers an experience very unlike any other you have had before.
For the incredible price that this game now goes for, Ico would easily be worth the price of admission alone.
However, with this amazing bundle, you get a second incredible experience on the same disc.
Enter Shadow of the Colossus. A title that the Ico team began work on after the production of Ico but before its release.
Initially code-named "Nico", Shadow of the Colossus tells the tale of a wandering warrior atop a faithful steed who is willing to do anything to bring the one he loves back from the dead.
At the end of his rope, the wanderer seeks the help of the gods of a distant temple to revive his love. In order for the magic to work, he and his steed Agro must traverse the world and kill 16 colossi who are represented by statues inside of the temple. When the colossi fall, so too do their statue representations.
The wanderer begins a journey that is quite different from Ico in content, but just as emotionally and artistically powerful.
Shadow of the Colossus, like its predecessor, is unlike any other game you have ever played. The game features no enemies except for the 16 colossi you are hunting.
As you ride around the open world on your steed, you will constantly be waiting to be attacked by a random enemy, but it never happens.
In this sense, traveling to the various locations of the colossi is a lot like mentally preparing yourself for an experience. It gives you a chance to think while you continue your journey. When you finally do arrive, the colossi will absolutely take your breath away.
The colossi are likely bigger and more mysterious than any other video game boss you have come in contact with previously. They do more than fill the screen, and you get the sense that they could crush you with one blow.
The process of taking down a colossi involves finding a way to climb onto it and scaling its body until you find a weak point that glows blue. Stabbing this weak point with your sword will drain the health of the colossus, and eventually bring it down.
While its fairly easy to figure out how to climb a colossi, by jumping on a certain part of it or waiting for it to move a certain way, others are a little more difficult and a few notable ones are downright frustrating.
Making the colossi vulnerable can involve your bow, environmental elements and more.
No matter how frustrated you get at some of the colossi, bear down and make yourself pull through. When you finally see the giant topple to the ground, you will want to keep going.
Those who persevere to the end of the this roughly eight hour experience are treated to another beautiful ending.
The real strength of SOC lies in the epic feeling of the colossi battle. The notion that one man is capable of bringing down a beast hundreds of feet tall for the sake of love is something every gamer should experience.
Like Ico, SOC camera can be frustrating at times, too. Sometimes your camera will get stuck inside of a colossi body, or fail to shift fast enough before you get smashed, but like the previous game, it can easily be overlooked.
The music in SOC is atmospheric and beautiful and the visuals create dazzling landscapes and marvelously haunting looking colossi.
When it is all said and done, these two games are must plays for gamers everywhere, and with this fantastic price tag and beautiful graphical overhaul, there has never been a better time to experience them together than now.
Along with the games, the collection comes with two dynamic themes for your PS3 dashboard, as well as insider trailers and interviews with the developers, which are entertaining and worth a look if you really enjoyed the games.
If you haven't experienced these games before, as was the case for me, don't think, just buy these right now and dive right in.
If you have played them before and wish to experience them again, the price is right and graphics are gorgeous.
Every once in a while we gamers need an escape from the Call of Duty clones and the Halo multiplayer.
We need to do more than just race a luxury car or beat up a bad guy.
Every once in a while we need something to remind us why we play games.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus remind us why we play, and why emotion is the most beautiful human trait.
Gamers of all ages and backgrounds owe it to themselves to allow these two sheer pieces of art to tug at their heart strings and breathe youthful life into their hearts, minds and gaming console.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
Regardless of whether you had played ICO or Shadow of the Colossus when they had came out or not, are a game aficionado or a casual player, you owe it to yourself to have these rereleased titles. There are very few people who would claim that these two games are "overrated", as there is much to appreciate, discover, and enjoy in both. These are two timeless, beautiful classics made better. They are very hard to fault.
I won't go into any detail on the content of these two games, as they are best left to player discovery for those playing for the first time. I will say that as adventure games, they fulfill their role and unlike many games these days, does not force unnecessary exposition and plotlines down your throat. They are very minimalist and like a well told story, leave it up to your imagination to fill in some of the blanks.
For the most part, I generally regard older games re-released in HD to be overpriced money grabs by gaming publishers, but every so often, the publishers will do it right. Shadow of the Colossus, in particular, stands out in that it presents the game in the way it was meant to be played. The framerates are much smoother than the original PS2 release, and the atmosphere and presence of the Colossi carries much more impact, as the suspension of disbelief is not interrupted by the aliasing (jagged lines) that plagued the originals.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
THe graphical overhaul is amazing. These two games are classics and genuine pieces of art in the gaming genre. I'd highly reccomend this to anyone who played hem before and definatly would for anyone who never played them before.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2011
In short: I'm glad I finally picked these 2 up.
Despite hearing about these games for years, I'd never tried them. I didn't have a PS2 during their heyday (I was an XBox kid), and heard about them much later, spoken of by others with reverence. I'd always meant to pick them up, (I now have a backward-compatible PS3), never got around to it, but now that this HD version is out, I guess it's ok that I waited.
A brilliant platforming game. Having played the God of War games before ICO, it's plainly obvious to me now where many of those games' platforming elements came from. The animations are very fluid and realistic. Meaning characters sometimes jerk suddenly or stumble as real people would when trying to make certain movements. As opposed to most games where characters just sort of float. It's very cool, kind of reminds me of the original Prince of Persia. The thing that's really striking about this game though is how little is actually explained to you. There is NO HUD whatsoever, at any time. There's no tutorial to explain buttons. I didn't know I could perform one action until halfway through the game, when I needed to do it. And having to bring your companion along is immensely rewarding. You really get attached to her.
Shadow of the Colossus:
I am not all the way through yet. But it is every bit as good as ICO, though it is different in many ways. The animation style is the same - much more like actual human movements than video game characters. The Colossi are HUGE, and immensely challenging to climb. Especially at first when you have no clue how they work. Unlike ICO there is some help available. If you haven't progressed in a Colossus fight for a while, a voice from the heavens will offer a hint. It's usually just something small though, to maybe point out something you missed. There is typically still a lot of work for you to do even after this hint. As I understand it, the 16 Colossi are the ONLY enemies in the entire game. So you can imagine how challenging each of them are, and how long they can take to fight. But it is AWESOME doing so. The last one I fought was the coolest so far - and this has been the case with each one. They just keep getting better.
This is just my feelings on these games. If you want more info on how they play, and the content, etc., look them up on a gaming reviews site I guess.
37 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
"Video game" is a medium cursed by its own name. In the first 40 years, what critical achievements have gathered in its top 100 list? Blockbuster action titles (Half-Life), puzzles (Portal), toys (Mario) and tournaments (StarCraft). I love good entertainment. Good entertainment is precious. But in its first 40 years, the world of cinema had already produced Nosferatu, Metropolis, and Grand Illusion. Notice a peculiar trend: they all focus on the human condition.
Imagine, for a moment, if 99.99% of all movies and books focused on entertainment alone. Imagine if the likes of "Shawshank Redemption" were never filmed and "Catcher in the Rye" never written because the public thought they "weren't fun." What a travesty that would've been. Yet this is precisely where the gaming medium has been for the past four decades and God forbid if a game should be anything other than a toy.
Now look at Ico. Like Shadow of the Colossus, it has plenty of engaging gameplay, fantastic scenery, and a haunting atmosphere, although unlike "Shadow," it places focus on the human condition. This is a taboo in games because gameplay must always come first -- a juvenile concept preached by those that see the word "game" in "gameplay" and think that the two share the same meaning. Ico takes this idea and proceeds to screw it sideways.
Here is a story about adults that want to sacrifice children to save themselves and about children who are willing to sacrifice themselves to save each other. Shadow of the Colossus is also about sacrifice, but it fails where Ico shines when it overlooks a crucial step. It neglects to establish a thriving connection between you and the one you are trying to save. When you labor to exterminate sixteen magnificent giants, your mind will be on how entertaining it is. Yes, "Shadow of the Colossus" is moving to be sure, but with Ico included in this HD Remastered package, it is as if somebody bundled your favorite Disney film with "Pan's Labyrinth."
Before I go on: No, I do not think that Ico is "the Art of Gaming." Gears of War is art; so is Madden NFL 2004. "Art of Gaming" is a pompous term which is a synonym for the word "pretentious," and Ico is anything but. Rather, Ico is humble. It is shy. Like its two protagonists, it does not want to be noticed. Its vast absence of dialogue in the presence of what is otherwise detailed narrative reminds me why silent films carried so much power, now long forgotten.
Dialogue gives us the illusion that people are communicating. This is a big farce. The truth is of course that a thousand meaningful conversations mean nothing and may not draw two people even an inch closer. Ico slyly asks us, "What about holding hands?"
The answer is "no," of course, but Ico provides a glimpse of what the right answer might be. When Fumito Ueda-san started work in 1998, he had one simple concept: a boy taking a girl hand in hand through a castle. This in itself is a gameplay gimmick until you fill your protagonists with life and then drain life out of everything around them. Now all they have is each other and you believe it.
Another thing you believe in is the world itself. Today, many games try to convince you of this by bombarding the environment with vast detail and purpose, forgetting completely that purpose undermines detail. Ico does something bizarre. It believes that the world it takes place in actually exists. It doesn't need to convince anybody because it already convinced itself. This is best exemplified by the iconic pond under the Windmill, which contains no gameplay purpose and appears only once. Why is it there? Well, to begin with, sometimes water collects in large holes in which you can swim.
On the surface, Ico is a game no different from the rest. You run, you fight, you solve problems. Like all games, it's more akin to sport than art. But when shadow wraiths leap out of the ground, gameplay will be the last thing on your mind. You will not care about "sweet moves" or other trivial feats that games are so eager to idolize. Your mind will be largely on the companion nearby. This is all the doing of Team Ico's animators and AI designers, who accomplished nothing short of magic when they created Yorda and abandoned motion capture. She pulses with life and if you've studied traditional animation, you will know why.
I should mention at this point that I heard all about this girl well before I played Ico. Popularity always drains away mysteries and their magic and like everyone, I have an adverse reaction to hype. When the game started, I embraced it with snide cynicism. I'd like to say that I maintained it pretty well, too, until Yorda helped me solve a puzzle without speaking, pointing, or motioning. That shut me up.
I first encountered Ico four years ago and did not like it. When the credits rolled, I wanted to throw the controller across the room. I have matured since then. For starters, I understand that Ico is closer to a vivid dream than a story. A story tends to imply that it has another story preceding it and continues with yet another after it is over. In Ico, you experience a brief, otherworldly journey which has no real past and no actual future. And you meet unforgettable characters, but as with all dreams, once you wake up - they will be gone.
If you're disappointed that I didn't review the gameplay then it's only because I can't compete with YouTube videos, which will give you a better idea about gameplay mechanics than all Amazon reviews combined. As for this "HD" release, what's there to say? You know all of the included changes from reading the marketing specs. You know that "Shadow of the Colossus" runs at a much better frame rate. If you still can't decide, my recommendation is to rent the collection. Although I have a feeling that if you appreciate thought provoking literature and film, your local neighborhood Game Rental store will never see it again. A pity for them.
In 2001, Charles Herold wrote in New York Times that "Ico is not a perfect game, but it is a game of perfect moments." I recommend you read his analysis of the game, although not before you play it. It is far better to experience magic than to read about it. In the end, I do believe that Ico "redefines the boundaries of gaming as we know them." But as Herold said, it is by no means perfect. It is, however, the first step. Let's hope there will be others.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
These games have received an HD update and trophy support, but almost nothing else about them has been changed. Many gamers will love this fact. Newcomers, however, may find it less than ideal; as controlling is not streamlined by modern standards do not occur as often as today's gamers have grown used to.
One undeniable thing about both games are the allure of their presentation. The ideas and the stories are unique and endearing. You will find yourself sucked into the atmosphere of both, and each will be difficult to forget for its own reasons. Much like Okami, these games are risk-takers on top of being beyond exquisitely artful in their delivery. You can normally tell these are last gen releases, even with the HD update; but that doesn't take away from their power to make an impact on the player's appreciation for just how beautifully imagined they both are.
My main complaint with the collection itself has to deal with controlling. The controls are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. They just aren't splendid either. ICO's battles are fraught with dumb AI; so the wonky controls are almost forgivable. But Shadow is so heavily dependent on the success of controlling that it's hard to overlook. The best things to keep in mind about Shadow are that inverting camera controls will make things feel more natural, and to realize that you have a stamina meter of sorts which tells you how long you can continue holding on to an enemy. Fix your camera settings, remember to let go of your enemies whenever possible, and the game will progress much smoother.
Regardless of how negative some of this may seem, I still think this is one of the best values to be had on the PS3; even when purchasing new for forty dollars. You get two epic and unforgettable games, which are probably unlike anything else you've played. Familiar control issues and sparse save points dropped the score for this reviewer, but you should still plan on owning this collection; look forward to it even. Because it carries a definite "wow" factor, despite its shortcomings. Buy now.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I missed out on Shadow of the Colossus and Ico when they first came out on the ps2. I actually bought Ico, and played through about an hour of it, but got distracted by other games and just never went back to it. Shadow of the Colossus always looked like something I'd enjoy, yet something came up in my life where I had to sell all of my gaming stuff to make some extra money, so I missed out on it entirely. When both games were remastered for the ps3, I knew that this would finally be my chance to experience the two games that people are constantly proclaiming as "art", above anything else. The HD remaster looked great from gameplay footage I saw, and with the budget price, there was pretty much no reason for me to miss out on them this time.
Unfortunately, I didn't care much for either game. I knew they might be hit or miss, because as I just said, the only thing I really heard about them is that they're "works of art". Rarely did I hear anything about the games being fun or enjoyable. Now and then someone would bring up the soundtracks for both games being masterpieces, but that was about it. I decided to play Shadow of the Colossus first, mainly because it's hailed by so many as one of the best games ever made. Before I say anything about the games, I need to make one thing clear, because I know a lot of people on Amazon will look at a review's score, then vote that it wasn't helpful (NOT if you agree with it or not) because it's for something they care a lot about:
These games are not terrible. I'm not saying that they're bad. I'm saying that I didn't enjoy them.
The plot for Shadow of the Colossus is simple- you play as a young man who entered a desolate land with his horse, trying to revive the woman he loves. The only way to do so is by vanquishing the 16 Colossi that roam the land. The majority of these beasts are huge, and on paper, make for exciting battles since it's just you with your sword and bow against them. The world is beautifully lonely and I had fun exploring it.
My problem with SotC is that there isn't much to do aside from wait around. When I found out where a Colossus was, I'd get on my horse, take off, and spend several minutes going in a straight line (most of the time) to the desired location. Nothing would happen- no enemies would attack me, no natural disasters would happen, nothing challenging would prevent me from reaching the Colossus. Look, I'm not someone who needs something going on at all times, but this is how it was for every Colossus. Sometimes you'll have to climb a few buildings to reach the monsters, but it's over in a couple of minutes. The land is beautiful and if you want, you can explore every inch and see how much time the team put into creating it. However, there's nothing going on aside from an occasional animal wandering around.
Battling the Colossi was boring 90% of the time. Your horse is only required for two of the fights, and as others have mentioned- these are the most exciting ones. All of the other Colossi will slowly lumber around before they slowly charge up for an attack that should kill you in one hit, yet it only takes around 1/3 off your health bar. I'll admit that it was something scaling a Colossus, hanging on for dear life...at first. There are many points in the game where all the hero would do is flail about while the Colossus would shake violently, and I couldn't do anything for minutes at a time.It got boring. There's another Colossus, one of the smaller ones, that can knock you down and keep attacking you before you can get back up, killing you in a matter of minutes. It's not challenging, it's an annoying design choice. Why does the hero take forever getting back up? I KNOW I need to jump out of the way of the Colossus' attack, but I -can't- because the hero is so slow. This was the only fight that was a challenge for me, because I had to find the perfect spot to jump on his back without falling off, or find something to hide behind when he'd charge at me so I wouldn't get knocked down. And you know what really sucks? Realizing that the Colossi never start a fight. You feel like a jerk killing these poor things because they're just walking around, minding their own business.
A special mention needs to be given to the hero's horse. Controlling it is so cumbersome that it got me killed more times than I'd like to mention. There were also times when I'd whistle for it, only to have the horse keep running on past me and right at the foot of a Colossus. I get that the horse is supposed to be your only companion in this big, empty world, and there's supposed to be an emotional bond with it...but I never once cared if this thing survived a Colossus attack. I won't lie- there were a few times when I'd run it off a cliff just to see it fall.
Ico didn't fare any better with me. You play as a young boy who was imprisoned in a giant castle because he has horns. A girl with magic powers is locked up in the castle too, and you help her escape. This game is more puzzle-oriented, with a little more to do than SotC. However, the girl nearly caused me to quit the game. Want to run ahead to the next area that you know you need to go to? You can go there, but you'll need to hold her hand while you exit the room you're in. If not, she'll still be in the previous room, waiting for you to hold her hand and take her there. Shadow monsters coming in to attack you? You better hope to God that she's far away from them, as she doesn't put up much of a fight. For a magical woman that can manipulate objects, you'd think she'd do SOMETHING to combat these dark forces.
Of the two, I like Ico better as far as gameplay goes, but the girl was such a pain that I almost missed the horse from SotC. I beat SotC not that long ago, and I can only remember a few of the Colossi. I can't believe they were planning on putting more fights in that game. Both games can be completed in around 8 hours. Again, these are not terrible games. I just didn't care for either one. They obviously had time and effort put into them. They just weren't fun for me to play through. Maybe it's a good thing I missed out on them during the ps2 era. I was busy having fun and memorable experiences with Panzer Dragoon Orta and many others.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
Remember back when "Artisic" games involved actual gameplay and not running around a space looking at pretty things?
These two are undying relics of that age.
Ico, more of a puzzle game than a action game, has you literally holding the hand of a blind girl, trying to lead her out of a castle complete with traps, and shadow creatures trying to take her back. If you leave her alone for too long or she's captured, she's wisked back to her cage where you have to start all over again. Your weapon against these shadow creatures? A wooden sword. Puzzles involve both characters sometimes, and are more than often timed, with the setting as a beautifully dark yet crumbling castle.
Shadow of the Colossus is another beautiful game, whose settings are wide expanses of plains, but the plains are the actual setting. The monsters themselves, each Colossus stands more than ten stories, and are a setting within themselves. Playing as a young man trying to wake his beloved from a coma, you're tasked to climb these huge demigod sized beasts, ranging from walking up right, to on all fours, to swimming, and even flying, and attack their weakpoints. It's a platforming game meets rodeo, where you have to hang on to dear life as you climb, the colossuses trying to shake you off the entire time.
Both games came at the beginning and the end of the PS2's lifespan respectfively, however, each game is beautifully designed, with backdrops that will just make you gasp. Cleaned up with extra features on the PS3, both games are must haves for real gamers. Both offer different sorts of challenges than normally seen in current video games, and the feeling of taking down a HUGE monster colossus is reward in itself. The difficulty of both games does ramp up. with Ico and SotC needing a logical eye to sort out some of the tougher parts.
These games are well worth more than $20 in quality, and a must have for anyone's library.