This page is dedicated to The Ending of Shadow of the Colossus including a description and explanation. Below you will find info on what happens, but also the story implications of what happens and theories on how these events might tie into other games.
Watch the ending (PS4) in its entirety in the video below.
After killing Colossus 16, you return to the temple, but are transformed into a giant shadow beast. This is the manifestation of Dormin that has taken hold within the Wander’s body.
You will be forced to fight off several humans for a minute, before they flee and a vacuumous hole opens up, trying to suck you inside. It’s impossible to stop, however you can resist and if you fight back for at least a minute before getting sucked in, you unlock a trophy.
Upon disappearing into the void, a long cutscene will play out as Agro and Mono appear and a few minutes later, the credits roll.
The Ending Explained
So what does the ending really represent?
Who is Dormin?
First, it’s important to know just who Dormin is. When you first arrived at the temple, all Wander knows is his name, and that legend tells of his ability to bring back souls from the dead.
What isn’t told to you at first, is that Dormin is evil. He was killed and his essence was sealed inside the body of 16 Colossi many eons ago. This is why the lands are forbidden, because Dormin has no power, except that of speech. So long as Dormin had no one to talk to, he couldn’t tempt people into helping him, and thus he remained sealed away for untold many years, until Wander arrived.
Wander Enters The Forbidden Lands
Our story begins when Wander enters the Forbidden Lands, with Mono and Agro. A brief scene in the beginning paints a clear picture as to why this happened. The trigger was Mono’s death, as part of a sacrifice. This greatly upset Wander, and knowing of the legend of Dormin, he stole the Ancient Sword, took Mono’s corpse, then fled into the Forbidden Lands to find Dormin.
Upon reaching the ancient temple and placing Mono’s body on the altar, Dormin reveals himself. While anyone could have replicated this act in the past, Dormin is particularly intrigued this time due to Wander having the Ancient Sword. This sword is the only item that can kill a Colossi, and thus is the only item that can free Dormin. Whether Wander knew about the Colossi before hand is unknown, only that he thought the Ancient Sword was somehow related to reviving Mono.
Sensing the opportunity before him, Dormin carefully concocts a tale for Wander, offering his assistance if Wander goes out and kills the Colossi. While he does warn Wander that the cost might be great, Dormin’s words are chosen careful so as to not reveal the true nature of himself and his plan.
Killing the Colossi
Thus the game begins with Wander setting out to kill the Colossi. At first, the game and everything we know, can make it seem like we are the hero of the story, setting out to gain power so we can save Mono.
After you beat the game, it’s clear this is far from the truth. The Colossi are neutral creatures, caring not for Wander or the world around them. They are simple creatures which exist solely to guard the trapped parts of Dormin that are inside them.
As Wander begins to kill them, it becomes more and more apparent that you’re not the hero. For one, the Colossi tend to be very secluded and are often hiding from you, only appearing when you’ve ventured too far into their home. They also tend to ignore Wander (as indicated by their blue eyes), and will only attack him if Wander keeps provoking them with strikes (as indicated by their orange eyes).
Upon killing each Colossus, black tendrils assault Wander’s body, another sign that things are amiss. These tendrils clearly hurt him, as he groans and reels backwards each time. Lastly, the more Colossi you kill, the worse Wander looks, to the point his skin goes white and he begins growing horns.
With all that in mind, it becomes clear that Wander is the true villain of the story. While it’s true he is being tricked into it, the result is the same and Wander ends up slaying 16 peaceful Colossi, in the hopes he can save Mono.
16 Colossi Dead, Wander Returns
After killing Colossus 16, you’re brought back to the temple, just as the other humans arrive. You had been warned they were coming earlier, as they had been chasing you from the beginning. Due to this, it’s implied Wander and Mono are from the same tribe as Emon, the man who is now chasing them.
Emon and his band arrive too late however, and although they injure Wander, Dormin is able to possess his body and suddenly a giant manifestation of Dormin appears. The truth is finally revealed, and Dormin, using Wander as a host, begins to attack the other humans.
Emon and the other humans luck out however, and the injuries they dished out to Wander make it hard for Dormin to chase them. This gives them an opportunity to steal the Ancient Sword (which had fallen to the ground earlier), and flee the temple. As they flee, Emon says a prayer and tosses the Ancient Sword into a pool of water, opening up a new portal to reseal Dormin.
At this point, Dormin disappears, and only a shadow version of Wander remains. Fight as you may, you’re eventually drawn into the portal with Dormin. However, moments later, Mono also wakes up and Agro returns, limping due to his giant fall earlier in the game.
The game ends with two important scenes. First, Emon and the other humans manage to flee the destruction of the Great Bridge. Without the bridge, humans will have a far greater time reaching Dormin. Emon also whispers a single line, saying that if Wander survived, he hopes he can atone for his sins.
Back in the temple, Mono has awoken. Why Dormin would still revive her is unclear, but the result is that she is alive and well. She, along with Agro, head to the back of the temple where they find an infant with horns laying in a pool of water. This is implied to be Wander, or what’s left of him. Carrying the child, Mono and Agro walk up the stairs until they reach the secluded shrine on top of the temple.
While it’s never outwardly stated, it’s strongly believed by many that Shadow of the Colossus is the prequel to Ico.
For starters, there is a visual theme between them both, and although each game is certainly unique, there are also striking similarities in how they look and how movement and action occurs.
More importantly, the characters. Mono is strongly believed to be The Queen from Ico. In Ico, The Queen is the villain, who is trying to kill the protagonist. It’s revealed that she is extremely old, hundreds, even thousands of years old. She also employs a lot of shadow like abilities, and even her body is often shrouded in shadow.
While Mono exhibits none of this in Shadow of the Colossus, it’s possible that by being revived by Dormin, her life cycle has been unnaturally extended. Dormin did warn us that there are great consequences to reviving Mono, and it’s assumed by the end of the game he was referring to us dying, but it could also mean that Dormin was warning us that Mono would not come back the same way she once was. It’s also not impossible to imagine that since Dormin revived her, some of, if not a lot of himself imprinted onto Mono, granting her use of his shadowy abilities.
It’s also important to look at the connection between Ico and Wander. At the end of Shadow of the Colossus, Wander is reborn as a child with horns. In Ico, there is a curse that has haunted a tribe of people for untold years, where certain young individuals would grow horns.
Taking these two characters into consideration, it’s possible to build a connecting timeline.
Revived Mono and Child Wander live on after the end of Shadow of the Colossus. They eventually establish a new tribe of people, although it’s whereabouts can’t be confirmed. Wander’s horns are passed on through the generations, but as time goes on, the horns begin to represent a curse and are feared by others in the tribe. Mono, who doesn’t seem to age, would live on, seeing the people she loves dying over and over, slowly driving her mad.
Mono’s mounting disdain would eventually cause her to split off and become The Queen, while Wander, who likely had been dead for hundreds of years, lives on in legacy, due to his curse, which eventually is transferred to Ico and sparks the beginning of that game.
There is one final consideration, although it’s far more speculative. The Queen’s Sword is found in both games. While it’s physical design is nearly the same, the sword doesn’t have the same shine or effects in Shadow of the Colossus, where as in Ico it has glowing runes and arcing energy. (This has been updated in the PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus, and now the Queen’s Sword looks extremely vibrant in Shadow of the Colossus).
The fact that the sword is in both games could just be fan-service. However, since the PS4 remake, it’s also possible that the Queen’s Sword is in fact the same in both games. The fact that it glows so intensely in the PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus could be due to the graphical fidelity of the game, but it could also imply that the sword is full of energy and that by the time of Ico, it’s dulled somewhat, but still maintains at least some of its magical power.