Friday, January 13, 2012

4th Colossus

In the land of the vast green fields...
Rows of guiding graves...
It is giant indeed but fearful, it is not.

Developer Name: Kirin
Fan Name: Phaedra (Equus Bellator Apex) - Equus Prime
Location Name: Kirin's Hill

Colossus 4 Hints
- One strategy to consider is to hide thyself underground...
- Deceive the colossus to reach its back...
- Use thy sword to find its vitals...

Phaedra's area is one of my favorite places to explore. It's such a beautiful landscape, a large green field surrounded by forests and mountains on all sides. There's a tranquility to this place, you can hear the sound of water flowing in the distance and all seems quiet and serene.

But this is a place of death. Dormin speaks of guiding graves, but the only structures you can see are raised mounds above four tomb like entrances. These are arranged in a square so it's hard to see what Dormin meant by 'guiding' graves? In bronze age times (3000BC - 1200BC) people buried their dead under 'tumuli' or barrows, a mound of earth and stones raised over the grave, so this could be what the mounds represent.

One theory posted on the Playstation forums by SageApple (aka: RaisinGirl) suggests that the trees in the area mark the graves as they are lined up in ranks on either side of the field. If so, then whoever lay there have no grave stones to be remembered by, their names lost to history. The only signs of a language are some enigmatic symbols carved around the four stone entrances and the large stone platform Pheadra starts on. Perhaps this explains what befell these people and where they were buried - if only we could decipher them.

In the above sketch taken from the book that comes with the HD collector's edition box set, you can see the mounds started out quite differently. They have a conical profile with a spiral path that led around the structure from the ground to the top, but there doesn't seem to be any entrance to an underground chamber. At the lower left you can see a mound that resembles what we see in the game today, so perhaps they were playing with both ideas and settled on the more natural looking mound?

Below you can see the original mound design that was included in an early build of the game (taken from the NICO dvd) with strangely shaped towers in the background. The towers appear close enough to have been part of Phaedra's area and if you look closely you can make out a possible entrance to the structure. The towers look to me to be mounted on the roof of one large building or temple.

Update: 27th April, 2020
A user named Aith was playing around with the landscape 3D model of Phaedra's arena and noticed something significant! He noted "On each corner of Phaedra's platform the verticals are arranged in a distinct circular pattern that appears to have been hastily patched." This suggests that the four pillars we see in the above image were actually positioned at each corner of Phaedra's platform in the past, but were later removed. So I was close to think the towers were mounted on a temple (above)... turns out the pillars were mounted on Phaedra's platform!

3D model platform bases found by Aith

So the platform may have looked something like this?

Guarding the graves is the colossus, Phaedra. Looking like the corpse of some huge horse, its ribs and shoulder bones are exposed and two skeletal structures hang for either side of it's skull. How many thousands of years has it been here guarding the dead?

Phaedra starts hunched on its platform. It's the only colossus you can trigger from a distance (in the NTSC version only), that is before you pass the threshold that triggers in normally. Shoot an arrow at it and it will come to life.

See video here:

In the NTSC version, Phaedra is completely solid before activation. All the other colossi have no substance except for a few small parts on some of them (like #1's club for example), but Phaedra seems intact. So you can climb all over it and it won't blink an eye.

You can also activate Phaedra by stabbing one of it's sigils. Note the strange symbols around the stone platform, is this some sort of ancient writing or just decoration? Perhaps it tells the tale of the dead in this area, how they were killed and why?

Micro Pheadra
This was part of my 'Odds & Ends video (part 5) I uploaded it on July 10th, 2014. In this video, I managed to reduce the size of Phaedra down by three times its scale! So it looked like baby Pheadra! I shoot an arrow at it, to wake it up, but it moves very strangely? Like it has not yet worked out how to walk? Much like when we see a baby giraffe take its first steps! Sadly I kill this new born Phaedra, only to realise that its mother is making its way towards me! What have I done!!!

Entrance Pit
The first thing you notice when you enter Phaedra's lair is a strange underground pit with paths leading down, it's right below where you enter the arena and has always puzzled players as it has no purpose in the game. At first I thought you could hide from Phaedra there (which it turns out you can) but Phaedra quickly loses interest and walks away. There's no way to lure Phaedra into the pit or even ride Agro down there, it's only accessible with Wander. Once down there you quickly realise there's nothing you can do except make your way back up again. There's some moss growing on the walls which you can climb but apart from that it's a totally useless area. My guess is that this area was probably planned to be for some purpose in early development that was later scrapped but they left it in game for the sake of novelty.

Paths leading down to a dead end

A small bridge can be crossed to the opposite side

Apart from this solitary rock the area is empty

Once down the bottom you reach a dead end

Ramp leading back up

Looking up from below

You can also climb out on some vines

The Catacombs
The main feature of the 'green fields' arena are four ancient tomb like entrances leading down to dark hallways that circle back up to the surface. They seem to have no purpose other than to hide from the colossus. Why would someone design such a structure unless they knew that one day a future warrior would attempt to take down the colossus and decided to give him or her a fighting chance? Otherwise they serve another purpose, perhaps the burial ground of some forgotten heroes, their names inscribed in a now long lost language in stone.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

A dark and foreboding place

Between the tunnels is this ghostly area where Wander is transformed. It's really weird, I have three cameras I can use with Wander, but here none of them work (spooky!) This is directly beneath the mound at its centre, so this is where you would assume the dead would be buried. Perhaps that's why Wander's face takes on a sinister shadowy effect. Note: there's no way to get here legitimately, although you could possibly make it there in the Preview version... be challenging though.

Here, the darkness in Wander has full sway and Wander seems possessed!

On top of underground tomb passages

Exploring Phaedra's Area
Most of the surrounding cliffs have no collision detection but it's one of the most amazing places to explore in the game (in my opinion). It's another forest that you don't see in the game and was only intended to act as scenery from ground level, but as with all things created by Team Ico they have gone above and beyond designing details you weren't meant to see. 

The four barrows shrouded in mist as seen from a high ledge

One idea surfaced (from Ozzymandiaas on the Games F&Q website 11-01-2007) that if Wander could be thrown from the colossus high enough to reach these vines he might be able to climb up to a secret area. Phaedra violently shakes its head up and down, so it was thought that if timed properly you could make it. But these vines can't be climbed, they are just texture decoration around the cliff.

 The very top of the overhanging cliff where you enter has no roof

 Inside the roof you can see the sky lights turned inside out

West side cliffs - you can see the overhanging cliff in the background

Behind the cliffs is a flat green field - almost like it has been freshly mown

There are no collisions here, so I'm using the standing hack - you can see it's a big area

Mountains at the west side of the entrance facing east

Cliffs above the forest - you can walk here but get pulled down

Behind the forest - there's a weird light here that gives the area a magical feel

Lost in the misty forest

North side cliffs

One of the darker areas in the forest

See my exploration video here:

Phaedra's Corpse
Like all colossi, when Phaedra dies it becomes a great mound of earth covered with vegetation, much like the barrows of the dead. Now the colossus has become part of the landscape, another mound of the dead in the land of the dead.

Phaedra's corpse and Phaedra - two realities intertwined

Phaedra in the Pit
I moved Phaedra before it's triggered to the pit at the entrance for no reason other than to see it there ; ) When you trigger it, it just starts back where it normally does. Unless the colossus is outside its native quadrant it will always activate where it is supposed to.

Phaedra Death Screen
Image you see when Wander dies during the fight with Phaedra.