Shadow of the Colossus: The Last Big Secret (The Short Version)

Before arbsorbing shadows/fruits
    One thing that's always nagged my mind about Shadow of the Colossus is the fact everyone KNEW you could climb the tower at one point.  How would that be considered a secret?
     It was one of my immediate goals when playing the first time back on PS2.  I spotted the moss trail after circling the Shrine of Worship immediately and knew there had to be a way to scale it.  It was an accessible location. So I figure there'd also be a reason to climb it.  After many playthroughs and eating an absurd amount of fruits and magical shining lizard tails.  You have to put forth a massive amount of EFFORT and WORK to get enough stamina to ascend the Shrine of Worship.  So why would the fruit in the "Secret Garden" return all that work to base level?
  Why would the game's creators make it possible, I'd say- inevitable, to allow players to gain enough power from the Forbidden Lands to scale the tower just to return you back to human?
     So here's a bit of backup for my thoughts on the speculated "Last Big Secret" of Shadow of the Colossus.
From a 1UP interview:
1UP: Are there any secrets in the game that still haven't been found?

Fumita Ueda: I wonder about that, but there seem to be many enthusiastic players so I believe all of the secrets have been found already.

1UP: Why does the fruit in the secret garden take away your stamina? Is there any specific reason for this in the story, or is it just a way to reset your stamina meter?

Fumito Ueda: The fruit in the ancient land was set to get you closer to non-human existence. The [secret garden's] fruit was set to return you to a human one.
From an IGN interview:
Kyle Shubel: Hmmm…I dunno, that sounds like an exclusive. Hmmm…well, everyone is talking about the secret garden. That is pretty much the most popular secret in the game that everybody gravitates towards because you have to do a certain level of time investment to be able to get strong enough to get there and, yes, that was there for the ending movie. They left it in the game for a reason.
After the shadows/fruits
     Well- What exactly is the purpose of returning the character IN GAME to human status???  What is the reason for the garden and what is the true purpose of the fruits???  If I wanted to do that I'd simply start a new game.  Besides which fruits are the forbiddon ones?  The garden's or the land's?  Who forbids it?  Dormin or the Priests?
     What if there is something you can ONLY do as a "human." Something that only people untainted by Dormin's power can do.  So it would be something later in the game, but necessarily without the increased health or power. For instance, the Shrine of Worship's front doors seem to only open under specific conditions, is it because the users are merely mortal. 
     Are the fruits designed to lessen or subvert the powers of Dormin?  They purposely deprive you of stamina and health to the lowest level- a regular human- ridding the player of Dormin's influence and that of the land itself.  Kind of like a preventative measure to keep the powers of Dormin from escaping the lands? 
     I really wonder why they would include this feature with the fruits.  Is there something still not noticed in the secret garden itself that requires an untainted human to occur. 
     One important thing, at least to me, is to notice that only "humans" are able to come and go from the Forbidden Lands.  Once you have built your health and stamina gauges to the maximum superhuman level is the first real time you can make it back to the Forbidden Land's front gates again.  Now I'm not saying that it'll become possible to leave, but it is an idea, and I don't know if anyone has tried. Eat the fruit of the garden, then try doing things.  Try exiting the Forbidden Land after the fruit.  Try the Shrine of Worship's front door after the fruit.
     One person suggested the parachute was necessary for the last secret.  I have no clue where that idea came from but - what if?  What if you need the parachute to safely reach the ground again after becoming human again to do something?  Try parachuting through the big hole in the garden after eating the fruit.
     Has anyone tried to beat Malus after eating the fruit?  Is it even possible?  While it is extremely doubtful a different ending could happen, would it be under this type of condition that it might exist?  One where the Wanderer doesn't contain enough shadow material to manifest Dormin himself during the ending.
     Another possibility is the Shrine of Worship's pool.  It seems to act as a gateway throughout the game.  A doorway to somewhere or something otherworldly.  It's the place all the bestowed weapons and items appear after the challenges as well as the gateway that drags Dormin into after Emon's spell and magical sword are cast into.
    Maybe there's a prayer to activate something in the pool.  Although the argument against the pool idea is that you start as a human next to it and nothing has been found to happen yet.  A potential portal waiting to be opened.  Once again, I'm not saying there would be something huge.  But maybe, just maybe...
     I personally would like to find maybe a small room or niche that houses a portion, or whole remains, of Dormin's previous encasement.  I would absolutely LOVE to find a skeleton of Dormin's previous incarnation on a throne.  Perhaps even parts of his ancient self strewn about the land in it's crumbling state.  Even a view of it reflected in the pool while praying would be great.  But, alas, it is just wishful thinking.
     I'd like to leave fellow Shadow of the Colossus players, and "last big secret" searchers, with the question I stated earlier-
  Why would the game's creators make it possible, I'd say- inevitable, to allow players to gain enough power from the Forbidden Lands to scale the tower just to return you back to human?


  1. Great post! I loved your idea of Dormin's skeleton on his ancient throne - what a joy that would have been to find.

    Your ideas make a lot of sense, and indeed over the years much speculation has been put forward about those damn forbidden fruits. So many unanswered questions... but I can answer some of them for you.

    After eating the fruit in the garden you still can't open the door to the temple and you are still forbidden to leave the lands. In game there's nothing out past the entrance gates - just void, the entrance temple only appears in the opening cut scene.

    I've explored this idea myself, eaten all the fruit and got my health back to it's original state then explored the lands looking for something that has changed, but there's nothing new to find. You can still kill the final colossus with this health level (although it's more challenging) but the game acts as normal. The final cut scene happens the same as usual.

    There's no way to kill Dormin by having the priests shoot him enough times to reduce his health down to zero. There's also no way Dormin can kill the priests - they are immune to his attacks and just get up after being slammed by his giant fist. So it seems the fruit is useless to trigger any new event in the game.

    The parachute being part of the secret seems to have come about by fans misinterpreting one of Kyle Shubel's comments. I have read all of his 'Ask the Devs' posts carefully and there's no where where he says the parachute is used as part of a secret. So as far as I know there is no secret outside the climb to the secret garden... this appears to be all there is.

    But the most damning evidence against a secret is the Dormin Editor that was created by a clever programmer (Youmoosotc). His editor allows you to view all the models, animations and textures in the game and many users (including myself) have trawled through them looking for some model or other that is not in the game, but we have found nothing except two extra items that were discarded (the eye of the colossus and the mask of the titans).

    One new myth that has arisen in recent times is the idea of the so called 'Black Bird'. This has mainly come from Brazilian users who claim they have seen a great shadow of a large winged creature pass overhead. Even though there's never been a video or even a single image posted anywhere, and there no evidence of any kind of other strange bird in the model data, even so the myth has persisted. It has become as famous as the so called '17th colossus' or 'alternate ending' myths that have been circulating since the beginning.

    So as much as we would like there to be a secret there appears to be none. After 7 years you would think someone would have found it by now, or chanced upon it by accident. The game is so mysterious and unique that it leaves you scratching your head why there aren't more hidden areas or secrets to be found. It seems to cry out to players to find something more amongst the ancient ruins and vast empty landscapes, but perhaps Team Ico did this on purpose, to entice further play.

    One thing I will mention though as a final tease is that when you kill the doves in the main temple that surround the altar after you kill each colossus, they stay dead. That is the game remembers that you have killed them so the next time you wake up in the temple after killing a colossus, the bird you killed before isn't there. This intrigues me as the birds represent the light side of Dormin. The darkness flows into Wander and a new dove (the light) appears around Mono's altar after each battle. Perhaps we could use this in some way?

    1. Oh Nomad, being awesome as usual :D I have heard many speculations and Im pretty sure theres no visual secret, though one that u can only find trough your mind and creativity might be possible. But its been 7 years so even that would be a long shot.

      Heres some specualtions that seem good:

      After every colossus you kill the black serpent shadows get sucked into wander and he teleports back to the SoW. A shadow is added to stand next to him before he wakes up. A dove is also added to stand beside Monos throne. You can also hear in that strange cutscene that happens after the black serpents gets sucked into you two voices, a mans voice (Dormins) and a female one. they both say the same words at the same time except in the finale cutscene where you only can hear Dormins. Im willing to bet that the female one has to do with Mono. Maby Dormin gave his powers to Mono at the end because he lost pretty easely if u ask me. Maby the queen or Yorda in ico has something to do with Mono or Dormin.

      Also in the beginning of the game lord Emon talks about the forbidden lands.

      Emon- That place... began from the resonance of intersecting points...
      They are memories replaced by ens and naught and etched into stone.
      Blood, young sprouts, sky--
      and the one with the ability to control beings created from light...
      In that world, it is said that if one should wish it one can bring back the souls of the dead...
      ...But to trespass upon that land is strictly forbidden...

      The "intersecting points" are pixels. "Ens and naught" are the ones and zeroes of digital data, which are "etched into stone" on the game's disc. (In Japanese the phrase is "burnt into stone", using the same verb as for burning a CD or DVD.) Blood, plants and sky are red, green and blue - RGB colours. The player is a person who can manipulate "beings created from light" (game characters on the screen). And in the game you can revive your protagonist as many times as you want.

      The legend of the Forbidden Land is about the video game itself.

  2. Hmmm... Sorry it took so long to reply to the comments, thank you for leaving them by the way, but I'll be looking into some of these ideas a bit later this week. Good stuff guys!