The Last Guardian has been a game that I have wanted to play for almost a decade now. I remember back when I was in the seventh grade I read in Gameinformer about the new game coming out by the same team behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I was more than ecstatic. During this time I remember vividly that I was playing Shadow of The Colossus and listening to the newest Fall Out Boy CD, Infinity On High, on a constant loop. I would come home from school and play Shadow of The Colossus listening to the same CD over and over again. I beat Shadow of The Colossus a dozen or more times on the PS2 and then once more on the PS3 when the HD re-release came out. It’s safe to say that I am a HUGE fan of these guys work. I wanted a PS3 so bad because I wanted The Last Guardian. I followed the game religiously and when it came down to it I got an XBOX360 instead of a PS3 just because the game was nowhere in sight to being released and it was stuck in development hell. The game was always rumored to be cancelled and fans/gamers always said that the game would never come out, I was in this boat. This game seemed too good to be true and I just accepted the fact that it was not going to be released. Then E3 of 2015 Sony announced the game was coming out. And they showed gameplay. And it looked amazing. The game looked just like it did back in 2009 when they showed the first trailer but even better this time around. Unlike another game that came out this year that had been held back and delayed and cancelled so many times, Final Fantasy 15, the game stayed true to its original roots.
The story of The Last Guardian is very basic, you’re a boy who wakes up in a cave with a man-eating beast. You have the overarching narrative told by the young boy as an adult. And then you have the story of Trico and the boy itself. The way the story unfolds and the relationship between the boy and Trico is something that I have never experienced before in a game. Everything between the two characters feels so organic and earned. The story progresses in a very interesting way by showing and not telling much of it. To many gamers this may be a negative because some people like being shown more than told. As for me I like picking up little crumbs of story and piecing it together myself.
The score is very good, it reminds me of a Disney sound track. The sound mix for the game is good, I really have no complaints on the sound at all. The purring and ruffling of feathers sound very organic.
Gameplay and story go hand in hand with this game. Yes, the game feels like a PS2 game, yes the main character lurches at every movement. The controls in the game feel exactly like Shadow of The Colossus and Ico, take that as you will. This game has all the same issues that those two games have, nothing more.
At the beginning of the game when you first meet Trico he is very abrasive and doesn’t listen to you at all. Through you helping him out, by either pulling out spears from his feathers, petting him and feeding him, he slowly begins to warm up to you and eventually becomes so attached to you that he cries when you move away from him to continue on doing a puzzle. Eventually you two become so close he will catch you when you fall and listen to your commands. Now with all of that said, the camera in this game is very annoying. The small cramped rooms with a big dog bird in the middle makes for some weird camera angles. Sure you have control of the camera but sometimes the game takes control for you and pushes it into a wall or blanks out and makes the camera close to your character. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it game breaking? No.
Now the most divisive mechanic in this game is Trico himself. The animal is programmed to act exactly like an animal. The way the character interacts with the world around it is ENTIRELY up to the AI in the game. Yes, you get to shout and jump and call it over. But sometimes Trico doesn’t want to listen and sometimes Trico wants to lay down or chase butterflies. You can be want to progress the story and call him over and he will put his head down close to you and want you to pet him. I love this mechanic and I think it is the coolest and most different thing about the game.
During one puzzle I asked Trico to help me up to the second floor, he obliged and watched me through the windows as a skirted around the outside. Then I fell. Trico SCREAMED as I hit the ground with a thud, when I walked back in he was staring at me. I pointed at the window again and did my jump animation to tell him to perch himself up again. Trico decided it would be better to hop around and run in circles and not listen to me for a few minutes.
Trico will listen to you, eventually. And he makes the game very much enjoyable. It isn’t a glitch, it isn’t the game messing up at all. Trico for all intensive purposes is a real animal stuck in a digital world. If Trico is distracted and you go and pet him a bit and calm him down he will listen to you and follow your commands. If you get him riled up by shouting a bunch of commands at him he will scream and become very confused. Most mainstream reviewers complained about the fact that Trico would not listen to them, they obviously didn’t explore the game mechanics at all.
The life and death of this game is in the hands of Trico and honestly Trico is the most polished part of the entire game.
The puzzles in this game can get very frustrating for more than one reason. One is because they are meant to be hard and challenging. And the other few reasons are technical problems from the camera, to the controls, the physics and to Trico acting a fool (annoying but cute enough that it made me smile).
There are two puzzles in this game that pissed me off to no end. One of them is where you need to make Trico dive into the water. The button to dive/let go with the boy is X and the button to tell Trico to go down/jump is R1+X. But when I was on Trico he wouldn’t go down when I pressed R1+X so I had to be off of him and press X to dive down then hopefully not hit X again then grab Trico before he made it to the next area. Very frustrating and something that could have easily been fixed.
The second puzzle was another water one where I had to move a box to a certain pillar or Trico wouldn’t drop down his tail for me. Something that could easily be fixed as well.
These little control issues are few and far between but the one major issue with this game is the frame rate. The game runs at a consistent 25 frames a second, which is per average for movies or TV shows. It gives the game a very cinematic look, one that I love. But it also dips below that ever so often, usually during the transitions to a new area or when Trico is jumping from arch to arch and you can see all of his feathers, the dynamic effects in the game really slow the frame rate down quiet a bit. This is the biggest glaring flaw in the game in my opinion.
This game is very beautiful. The way the sunlight casts shadow on Trico’s many feathers as they ripple through the wind is so beautiful. The lighting and atmosphere of the game is very dark and appropriate. The game is gorgeous looking.
The Last Guardian is easily my game of the year. And is easily one of, if not, my favorite game of all time. This game is truly something unique. Trico is the cutest video game character that we have ever seen in this medium. The way you interact with Trico is one of the most unusual and daring things I have seen in gaming in a LONG time. The fact that many reviewers, most of them professional ones, have overlooked so many mechanics in this game blows my mind. They get paid to review games and they don’t even look into the full mechanics of it. Then they turn around and say that the game is flawed and hard etc. At the end of the day The Last Guardian is a diamond in the rough. A true testament to video games being a vehicle of emotional and gripping story telling. The only factor that decides how great this game is, is you the player. Do you have an attention span higher than ten seconds? Do you appreciate good stories? Do you want to support and appreciate original ideas in a medium that is bloated with the same mechanics recycled over and over again? Then buy this game, you won’t regret it.
Thank you guys for reading my review! Sorry it took so long to get another one out. I was having a really hard time finding a game that would sink its teeth into me! But hey, here I am! And there’s a video this time too! Also! I just started a play through of Final Fantasy 15 so expect that in the coming week as well. Thanks!