Commencing development back in 2007, it has been a long road for this humble title. It missed its release platform completely, and suffered multiple delays on the PS4.
Well, it is here in all its charm. The Last Guardian is one of the greatest creations to come out of Team Ico, dare I say even better than Shadow of the Colossus.
Right from the opening moments, until the end, my heart broke into pieces, and mended itself over and over again. The relationship between the young boy and this strange creature name Trico, grew on me.
I was not expecting it at all, as I had a feeling that it would try to, but during the open hours of the game, I questioned its clumsy control scheme and directionless exploration.
This made me distance myself from the game’s emotional lure, but I found myself helpless as times, and I could do nothing but smile when Trico tossed his food in the air like a cat, or grabbed the boy by his shirt right before he was about to tumble to his death.
I was dropped into the deep end, as the game’s plot is not forthcoming at all. The story is told through a series of flashbacks.
The old man, who is unknown at the start of the game, tells of one dark night, when a creature came into the village and stole the boy. The boy who you control throughout the game awakens in a chamber next to Trico, and after a few minutes manages to free him of his shackles which have imprisoned him.
It is here that the game kicks off and the relationship between the boy and the creature, starts to take form. Trico and the boy are now determined to escape this massive castle that they find themselves in.
Trico is an adorable spliced hybrid between a cat, dog, a little bit of a mouse, and a bird of some sort. This gives him wings, feathers on this back, but also fur on this underbelly and tail.
His wings are tiny, so he cannot fly, instead he relies on his tail to break objects with a lightning strike caused by a strange green disc that the boy carries around, and his long legs and sharp claws to leap and grab onto pillars.
Seen as he is so fluffy, he makes the perfect riding companion for the boy as he climbs atop his head and walks around with him.
There is not much to the control system in The Last Guardian. The boy can climb, crouch, shout for Trico, pick up objects, and push and pull switches and chains.
Although I felt it was limiting at first, half way through the game the ability to issue commands to Trico opens up another level of commands and actions.
You can tell him to climb somewhere, hit an object, or demand that he comes to you right that second. This is all done in the cutest way possible as the tiny little boy stands in front of this massive creature and shouts at him.
It is very comical to see and further draws you into the relationship between the two. Once I started issuing him commands, it was rewarding to see him lift me to the top of a ledge while I stood on his head, or even dive underwater while I grabbed onto his tail.
There are two main enemies in the game, the guards that patrol the massive castle, and these strange stained-glass windows that have an eye on them.
Trico will not go near these windows, and he will freak out in all sorts of fearful ways. As for the statues, these come to life and chase after the boy, but when Trico is near he will bash them, killing them.
There are consequences to this though, as he needs to be calmed down. I had to climb him and stroke him until he knew he was safe again. If not, he would persist in hitting around the helmets of these strange statues, howling at them.
These statues are a pest in the game as they grabbed me and I had to spam every button on the controller to make then let go. If it got to this strange door before I could, then I was a goner and had to reload from a checkpoint.
The castle is filled with beautiful locations. From the deadly heights of the bridges to the lower caverns, pitch black with no direction where to go.
This is where the glass windows with the eye symbol become my worst nightmare. Often Trico would see them and halt in his path. I then had to direct the boy on another path, to find these glass windows and destroy them. Some saw me climbing way above the ground into the air in that looked like a giant wind chime.
Pushing this window off the ledge was the only way to get rid of it. There was a consequence in doing so, as I witnessed a chain reaction that caused the very ground beneath me to crumble.
Running to safety, there was not other way to go but jump into the distance in hope that Trico would save me. Luckily, right before my very eyes, he grabbed me and pulled me to safety.
That was just one of the many instances where my heart would race as I had to either escape the crazy statues, or find a way to get my dear friend to me by either opening up a gate which he was locked behind, or dispersing of the window that kept him at bay.
When I needed a breather, I would hunt the are around us for food. Trico eats these strange glowing barrels, often shown by blue butterflies fluttering in the air around me.
When I saw these, I knew I had to take a break off the path, and hunt for the barrels to feel Trico.
Often there were times when Trico simply refused to follow me or even more, as his hunger was unbearable.
Although these were all scripted into the game’s story, it was another way that brought the boy and Trico closer together.
The sheer beauty of the game is a feature on its own. Running on the PS4 Pro with HDR on, it was a magnificent visual feast.
The castle itself is massive, and every location I found myself during my 12-hour adventure was beautiful in some way or another. Trees are bright green, with perfect water reflections in puddles scattered around the gardens.
Trico’s feathers constantly fluttering in the wind as it howls past. There is very little music playing at all during the game, just the little boys feet bare feet tapping against the ground and Trico’s sounds echoing through the massive rooms in the castle
The game changed from an experience that I did not feel would be as rewarding as it was, to wanting to play the game a second time.
The Last Guardian was a charming experience that touched on friendship, love for an animal, and the lengths we will go for the things we love. As the friendship grew, Trico changed.
His wings got bigger, and this coat changed from a white to a black. This could be him healing himself, but it also indirectly resembled the transformation from his former self to the friendlier creature that I fell in love with.
I sat for hours thinking about all the moments Trico and the boy shared together, and how they become the troublesome two.
The boy loved Trico, and Trico the boy. The Last Guardian is a phenomenal journey that one will never forget.