The Forbidden Land is the primary setting in Shadow of the Colossus. It is a remote coastal region that is naturally separated from the surrounding landmass by a steep mountain range. The only apparent entrance by land is a narrow passage through a tall ruin sitting on the edge of a sheer cliff. The ruin frames a massive stone bridge that leads straight into the towering Shrine of Worship lying in the heart of the Forbidden Land. The surrounding terrain is a rugged wilderness with highly varied environments; rolling plains, verdant forests, deserts, valleys, rivers and lakes can all be found here. Although there appear to be no remaining inhabitants, several scattered ruins suggest that humans once dwelt in the area.
In the game's finale, Lord Emon refers to the area as a "cursed land". Long ago, a god-like entity called Dormin was sealed away; his dark essence was split into fragments and infused into the sixteen stone Colossi that now roam within the Forbidden Land. In an effort to revive the deceased maiden Mono, a young warrior named Wander trespasses into the Forbidden Land, drawn there by legends that speak of the land's power to resurrect the dead. After brandishing his stolen ancient sword inside the Shrine of Worship, Dormin's disembodied voice addresses Wander directly and offers him a deal: defeat the sixteen Colossi and Mono's soul will be restored. However, Dormin warns Wander that the price for such heresy may be steep.