A Journey The Last Guardian
If you suddenly woke up with a man-eating beast next to you, what would you do? In The Last Guardian, a small boy learns the answer to that question, and much more, on his journey to find his way back home.
From the studio that brought us Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian has finally come. It surpassed my expectations and more. Between beautiful visuals, an adorable duo, and a soundtrack that really gives you a sense of the environment – The Last Guardian has it all. At times, I found myself idly patting the beast named Trico just so I could show him I would try to keep him safe. Little did I know, it was more him keeping me safe.
The puzzles can be extremely challenging at times because it’s hard to spot a very small tunnel or figure out the exact function of a chain, but the narrator cues in from time to time to try to give guidance. Trico will also try to show the way by looking in the direction you’re supposed to go. That’s not to say I was never annoyed at my giant pet. When giving Trico commands for puzzles, it can be pretty aggravating for him to jump in place rather than where I was pointing. He just plain doesn’t obey the commands you give him at times, making for some frustrating moments. Especially when you need him to do something to keep you from falling to your death.
I`m not sure if it was my imagination, though, but I felt that towards the later part of the game he listened to my commands more consistently. If that was an intended mechanic, that is genius, mimicking a growing bond between the boy and Trico. It was one I felt by the end of the game, as I found that I was the most panicked and frustrated when Trico would get stuck or howl from being separated from me. I got attached very quickly to Trico, and it only got harder as the game went on.
Other issues make life difficult as well. The camera can be a little unforgiving when you have to go through tight tunnels with Trico and if you lose your grip by accident, it’s back to the last save. Luckily, the game saves frequently.
A strong theme I felt throughout the game was powerlessness. At four feet tall, and probably around the age of eight, the protagonist couldn’t do much to help Trico against the monsters of the game. Watching Trico struggle against my enemies, yelping as their spears dug deep into him, only made me feel worse. There are some ways to help him with the enemies, but you’ll probably be pulling a few spears from his body in the long run (which only makes the guilt worse when he cries). As the boy, all I could do to help Trico was to soothe him after a fight so he didn’t go on a rampage. When I saw his eyes go from purple (hostile) to green (friendly) and his big ears flicked up, I felt a huge sense of relief. Even at the end of the game, I didn`t even care about going back to the village – I just wanted to stop putting both characters at risk.
The music was absolutely perfect for each area, capturing each moment in the journey. Pairing the music with the wonderful visuals just made for an amazing and well told story. It made me feel a real connection with Trico, bonding with him like a real pet as he misbehaved, played, and eventually gave everything in him to keep me safe. In my opinion, this is the best game that Team Ico has released, and it has set the bar high for the next iteration. I hope that we don`t have to wait too long for the next one.
In short, please give me a Nintendogs-like game where I can play with Trico right now so I can fill this hole in my heart.