After the completion of the critically acclaimed PS2 game, Shadow of the Colossus, Japanese developer Fumito Ueda began working on his third project, The Last Guardian. Ueda’s attempt with his second game, Shadow of the Colossus, was to create a bond between the main protagonist Wander, and the female character he wanted to save. But to Ueda’s surprise, players felt more connected to main ally of Wander, his horse Agro. After discovering this, Ueda decided to have the growing interaction and connection between a human and an enigmatic creature be the central concept of the next game.
Now, after much hype and a tedious nine year development cycle, The Last Guardian has officially been released. But does it live up to the hype? Does it exceed expectations? It meets the hype, but does not exceed expectations which is unfortunate but there is still a one of a kind journey to experience here.
The gameplay itself is very similar to Ueda’s previous two games, Ico (2001) and Shadow of the Colossus (2005), the player controls a young unarmed boy who can do the basics of a platform game, run, jump, climb, but the boy can perform other unique actions with his companion Trico. The Last Guardian is an action-adventure platformer with puzzle, and stealth elements. Some of the more unique aspects of the game are the interactions with Trico. The main enemies of the game are shadow-being guards that hunt the boy and Trico throughout the journey. The boy is unable to fight the guards, but this is where his interaction and bond with Trico comes in. The main premise of the game is to create a interaction between these two characters while you, the player, begins to feel attached to them. Trico will at first defend himself when the guards come near, but as the game progresses the two form a bond, so after their bond grows, Trico is not just defending “himself” but the boy as well. What makes the gameplay so unique, is that the animations are truly amazing and fluid, which makes everything feel smooth and easy to learn. But the boy is after all just a boy, he cannot jump huge distances and land perfectly. In fact, Trico is often used to scale these environments and set pieces.
This is not a perplexing game, in fact, it’s rather simple. The game begins with a narration from the boy who has matured and grown old, telling the story of how he awoke in a cave only to see a strange beast that resembles a griffin chained and also injured, and from there your journey begins. As like his other two previous games, Ueda relies on his characters and environment rather than a detailed and linear story. In fact, Ueda has again brought his idea of having the player figure out the story and reason as to why the boy taken in the first place.
- Gameplay is innovative and unique.
- Puzzles are intricate and vary throughout.
- Combat is simple enough to keep things interesting.
- Beautifully designed world that keeps you guessing about what you’ll see next.
- Excellent animation that makes everything run smoothly and efficiently.
- Well designed set pieces.
- Trico’s interactions with the player and environment mimic animal behavior very realistically .
- Sound design is spot on.
- Excellent music that fits into every situation the player is in.
- Story is unique and has the player attempt to deduct the overall reason as to why the boy and Trico are there.
- Trico’s behavior is meant to mimic an animal, and sometimes he does not follow the commands given by the player which can cause frustration.
- Tutorial prompts show up often and cannot be turned off.
- Framerate can dip very hard, especially during the big set pieces, which can unfortunately break the immersion.
Final Score: 9.2/10
The Last Guardian
SIE Japan Studio
Sony Interactive Entertainment
December 5th, 2016