I finished Shadow of the Colossus two weeks ago and I've been letting it all sink in. Before I go on, I'd like to say that I haven't played ICO. (ducks the rotten tomatoes) I actually think that's helped me in that I took SotC on its on merits rather than comparing it to its predecessor.
SotC is phenomenal! It's story is simple and explained with visuals rather than dialogue or narration. You control the character Wander. His love, Mono, was sacrificed to save her from a cursed fate. He wants to bring her back from the dead and so he seeks the lands at the very end of the world and the help of a spirit named Dormin. Dormin does not promise that it can bring Mono back, but it does say that it might be possible because Wander possesses an ancient sword. He must destroy the colossal incarnations of sixteen idols in order to bring about Mono's resurrection.
With the promise of might, Wander sets out.
You don't level or power up in this game. You start out with the magic sword. Besides that, you have a bow, endless arrows (you'll need them), and your incredible ability to hold on for dear life. Your only living companion is Agro, a large black stallion. He's your constant friend and always finds his way to you no matter where you are. And thank God, because he's the only other living thing you interact with. Besides the colossi, you are utterly alone in your mission.
Each colossus is a puzzle. First you have to figure out how to get on it and then you have to figure out how to stay on it while trying to find its weak points. Each colossus is progressively harder than the last. You must learn to use your surroundings to your advantage and not be afraid to be in the line of fire when a colossus decides to come after you.
Because the story is so simple, you can't really say anything about it without giving away too much. For those of you who would like spoilers and the story before Dormin, checked out the Wikipedia entry.
Everyone who enjoys the game has a favorite colossus. Mine is number 7: Hydrus. My favorite part about him is that you can see his spines sparkling from far above the water. At a close second is Number 13: Phalanx. He's a battle you must be on Agro's back for.
The Bottom Line:
1. Rent this title before you buy. It is not for everyone.
2. This game is also a title to be played alone. Your friends aren't going to be able to help you unless one of them has GameFaqs ready.
3. This game has many of the elements of a spiritual and artistic experience.
4. You will not be able to run through this game to get to 'story' scenes and parts. The story is visual in the changes Wander, Mono, and Agro go through as the game progresses.