Nick Suttner. Boss Fight Books, $14.95 paperback (194p) ISBN: 978-1-940535-10-4
Boss Fight Books is killing it. Since its launch (and incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign) in 2013, Gabe Durham and his team have released an impressive slate of titles, all critical and personal explorations of video games. Their tenth title, Shadow of the Colossus by Nick Suttner, is a deft balance of the game’s creation story, gameplay description, context within the gaming industry, and Suttner’s personal relationship with the game. Suttner is working with prime source material, an acclaimed, beloved, and emotionally resonant game that, as he makes clear, remains singular among its peers even in the decade since its release. Suttner’s nearly reverent attention to detail, combined with the game’s inherent fascination, makes for a compelling read.
Shadow of the Colossus is a game that relies heavily on its visuals; in a game with little dialogue and relatively few gameplay elements and characters, it is the vistas of the Forbidden Lands and the varied, towering Colossi that give it much of its power. This could be a handicap for Suttner, but his obvious devotion and attention to the game through multiple playthroughs makes him a more than able guide, painting pictures for the reader of the many natural spaces the game’s playable character, Wander, travels, as well as the Colossi themselves. His descriptions will have anyone not familiar with the game’s design rushing to Google. Suttner also takes great care with the emotional journey of Wander’s story, illustrating well the conflicted nature of the game—Wander’s quest to save Mono versus the increasingly bitter task of taking down the Colossi. His walkthrough of the game’s story should appeal both to those already familiar with the game and those who haven’t played it. (Though if you are unaware of the story’s conclusion, be warned. He takes the reader all the way through the game’s finale.)