2009. What a year 2009 was! Sneaking around on the PC at night during the summer watching E3. I can still remember just how excited I was by The Last Guardian’s trailer. I was immediately mesmerised as soon as that feather hit the floor. I enjoyed both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus so I had no doubt that I would enjoy The Last Guardian too. Watching the interaction between the boy and Trico in the original announcement trailer sold me on the game.
If you are yet to play The Last Guardian I would like to inform you that there will be spoilers throughout my review.
I ended up having so many mixed feelings by the time I finished The Last Guardian. I was incredibly excited for the game and I pre-ordered the collectors edition. You can see my unboxing video for that here.
The story of The Last Guardian focuses on Trico -a mystical beast and his unlikely child sidekick. Through rather unfortunate circumstances they come to rely on each other for help as they make their way through the different segments of the game. At first this is nothing more than a necessity but other time the two begin to bond and care for one another. As most Team ICO games do the story of The Last Guardian is rather vague. A lot is left open to your own interpretation. I had three main questions when I finished the game.
- Did the barrels I had been feeding Trico happily really consist of sacrificial children?
- Did all of the Trico at the end die when they weren’t being controlled anymore?
- Who is The Master of the Valley?
I went online to search these answers and more or less had the same idea that many others did. I went into the game expecting a death and honestly I thought it would be Trico’s. I bawled my eyes out when I played through ‘that’ rooftop scene because I was sure I knew what was coming but alas the ending caught be my surprise in a good way!
Was The Last Guardian worth the wait? Absolutely. All of those years of unerring faith that the game will be released were worth it. It may have had a few setbacks and taken a lot longer than I expected but the game definitely benefits from being on the PS4.
Graphically it’s beautiful. The outside environments in the game are particularly outstanding. When you begin to get some height and are able to look out to the distance and below you you are met with some outstanding views. Not to mention Trico. Every feather on his body moved individually and perfectly in the breeze. His mannerisms resembled that of a cat and I enjoyed watching the way that he interacted with the world. Whether it be playing with a chain or spinning a wheel. This gave Trico a whole new layer of depth.
I like the open-to-interpretation story lines that Team ICO games offer. I thoroughly enjoy going online once I’ve finished the game and discover how other people have interpreted the story line. Sometimes they align with my own views and sometimes they totally broaden my understanding in a new way. No idea is wrong and that’s brilliant.
I had so, so many issues with the game and it prevented me from really enjoying it at times. I got so frustrated that I would let the game idle or just turn it off and come back another day. Although puzzle games aren’t generally my thing I was able to solve them fairly easily. It was the total inability to get Trico to follow my commands. The AI was absolutely awful. I feel like Trico made Yorda feel like a fantastic companion. I found that there were two camps when it came to Trico’s AI – those that say that it’s abhorrent and those that say it’s intended because Trico is a wild creature. I can’t even comprehend the latter. The idea in theory is sound and if it was incorporated into the game correctly should consist of Trico refusing to do things at the start and then participating. I feel like this could be considered as pre-Trico commands and post-Trico command availability. However this just isn’t the case. I found myself trying to get Trico to do the one simple thing for over twenty minutes in two segments of the game and that’s totally unacceptable.
The first section involved having Trico catapult you up to the roof. All Trico had to do was push down on the catapult, however in my play through he just sat there and looked at me like a stunned mullet. The second biggest issue was attempting to get him to dive underwater – no matter how many times I commanded him he would not dive. I ended up just having to dive myself and hoped he followed me, that I was close enough to grab on and we would successfully make it. And lets not get started on the times he didn’t catch me midair! Though, to be fair I did look the two former issues online and whilst I definitely found a multitude of people who had the same issues as I did; many other people didn’t so your mileage may vary.
Finally, this isn’t an issue as such but I was a little disappointed that there was no link to ICO or Shadow of the Colossus. At least none that I had come across. It is a common theory that the actions that Wander undertakes in Shadow of the Colossus resulted in horned people like the main character in ICO. It would have been interesting to see something along those lines implemented in The Last Guardian. Even the ruins of a colossi. There were so many possibilities.
Overall I definitely believe that The Last Guardian is an amazing experience that everyone should play. There’s no other creature in a video game that I fell in love with quite like Trico. Team ICO did a fantastic job building the relationship between the two unlikely characters. It felt honest and genuine and I felt guilty every time Trico injured himself to help me. Even with the issues I had with the game I would still recommend it to anyone. These experiences are unique and truly something that needs to be experienced first hand.