More then ten years ago, Shadow of the Colossus was released, and it has been a long-awaited journey for its successor. The Last Guardian released earlier this year and–at least for me–was an emotional ride. Anyone who is connected to our natural world and its creatures, will find themselves likewise connected to The Last Guardian.
Players find themselves regaled with a story narrated by an old man. It tells a tale of an unnamed boy and his unwitting bond with a colossal (hah, pun) creature named Trico (the name is derived from Japanese equivalents of “toriko,” or “captive,” “tori no ko or “baby bird,” or an amalgam of cat bird, “neko” and “tori” respectively). This bond is formed from necessity, but quickly becomes something more, as both characters frequently need each other in order to escape their prison.
As with its predecessors, Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, The Last Guardian is based on the interplay between human and animal characters. The trials with which each are faced fuel gameplay, but more importantly, create an emotional attachment with the player. As vicarious as games go, it is only right to assume players will form this bond because each situation depends on it for the avatar to survive.
Ueda went on record to say the relationship between boy and Trico was pivotal, modeled after our own relationships with our pets. Due to this, the catbird was required to have believable animations. And these animations are most assuredly realistic. Trico is expressive and moves like a cat, but chirps and howls like a bird and dog, respectively. This animation set is extremely important to this bond; without this realism, we as players would not be nearly as connected to Trico. That is what makes this game.
Gameplay is is what was expected from the successor to Shadow of the Colossus, and while climbing [atop Trico] is frustrating at best, the puzzles are relatively difficult. I say this, not due to complexity, but more from obscurity. I’d wander an area for five minutes before realizing: “oh. THAT’S what I had to do. Now I feel stupid.” That being said, they are the core of gameplay and work well.
Graphics are truly reminiscent of its predecessors, but on a current generation basis. Environment renders, especially foliage are very well done. The very WORST part, as with previous games, is camera. It clips during climbing sequences, especially on Trico, nearly every time. It’s almost unforgivable, but the game itself, the mystery, is worth enduring.
The score decent enough, vamping at the proper moments, and somber when it needs to be, but even my veteran’s musicianship couldn’t pick out a section that stuck out. Effects like shattered porcelain jars are immersive and Trico’s reactions are voiced well.
All-in-all, The Last Guardian is a decent game. Camera clipping and issues with climbing controls should have been non-existent, given the ten-year time frame Team Ico had on their hands. The best of it comes not from gameplay or graphics, but rather from the emotional roller coaster players experience throughout the game. That being said, it may not be worth the new price tag and thus, I give The Last Guardian a