It’s been 11 years since we last saw a game from Team Ico. Shadow of the Colossus was one of the best games to hit PlayStation 2 in 2005. The studio behind The Last Guardian, as well as the director, have had a roller coaster of a ride to get from beginning to end. As a gamer, I was worried I would never play The Last Guardian, but here we are seven years later and it is glorious.
Fumito Ueda, the director released a note to media included with the media review kit last week. I want to say that every word in that heartfelt note rang true, and as I sit here writing the review for one of the more anticipated titles on PlayStation.
The Last Guardian, however, is a by-product of it’s age, being announced nearly ten years ago. The title has seen two generation jumps, originally set for release on the PlayStation 3. The game hit a bump in the road when the PlayStation 3 provided many technical hurdles to get through, limiting the developers on their vision. Eventually, the decision to move to PlayStation 4 happened and here we are.
The Last Guardian begins with the main character awakening in an unfamiliar ruin. Here we meet Trico, who is wounded and left for dead, and it is here, that the bond we’ve seen in numerous trailers and demos, is born.
The two protagonists, at first, are simply there and working together to get out of the ruins. As you progress through the 12-hour story campaign, you’ll see the bond between the two grow to be something else. Trico grows from a scared, abrasive beast at the beginning, to the protagonists’ protector by the end. The bond feels like something between a boy and his dog, and that’s why this works so well.
The idea behind Trico, after playing the game, makes all the more sense behind the decision to bring the game to PlayStation 4, the amount of computing it takes to bring Trico to fruition is on display here. Trico is a graceful beast and moves like you would expect a cat to move as it walks. The game gambles on making you fall in love with Trico and it wins in full spades on that matter, and you won’t care because Trico feels real.
Trico isn’t your regular AI character, nope, Trico is what your dog (or cat!) would be like if he was in a video game. You can see it in the way he reacts to things, or when he’s drying himself off after getting wet. You can see the little things that make him special throughout the game, and each interaction with Trico is special in its own right.
That’s the thing about Trico though, he isn’t the player character. Trico will follow you, you can command him however, and giving him basic orders that help solve puzzles and get past obstacles that are hurdles in your journey together.
The biggest issue you’ll face is how to get Trico where you need him to go, and whether or not he can follow through with your commands. Often times, Trico would disregard my actions or what guidance often causing frustration and quite a bit of yelling at him through my screen for being so clueless.
The other issue is the camera and how often I would lose myself because the camera would awkwardly zoom in and blinding my view of what was happening.
The framerate would drop on the PlayStation 4 Pro and it was noticeable on a number of occasions, other times, I would experience a glitch that while not game breaking, was noticeable.
The Last Guardian has succeeded after a lengthy development and all odds against it. The payoff after all these years to the team, the director, the fans and everyone else vested in the success, comes full circle. We’re given a heartfelt and personal story about a boy and his pet, but his pet is a giant beast. The glaring issues, the console development gap, all of these hurdles are scars that Trico has endured, and the payoff is sweet. There is no game like The Last Guardian, and there won’t be another game like The Last Guardian for years to come.