When thinking of The Last Guardian, a Harry Potter quote comes to mind; “I did my waiting. 12 years of it.”
Okay, I know that it did not take 12 years to develop, but being stuck in development hell for 9 years was torture for the fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus who were eagerly awaiting this game.
The Last Guardian explores the relationship between an unnamed boy with some radical tribal tattoos that glow blue and a bird-cat-dog hybrid known as a Trico. You awake as the boy, in “The Nest” next to a Trico that’s chained up and injured. It’s hostile towards you, but you decide that the next logical step is to feed it, treat it and free it, with hope that it turns out to be your friend and not just eat you.
From then on, you traverse through dilapidated buildings at scenic locales, lush gardens and deteriorating bridges which are littered with cleverly designed puzzles that get in your way as you try to reach the highest tower in “The Nest”.
Your past is still a mystery but at pivotal points, you are given glimpses in the way of flashbacks, that slowly reveal your past.
The only way of “The Nest” is to fly out of it. However, your Trico has wings reminiscent of the chicken wings you had for lunch and you begin to wonder if you are ever going to leave this place for good.
Even though we are presented with such a compelling story, the gameplay leaves much to be desired.
To be fair, the puzzles are great. They are layered up till the point where it feels like you are solving a puzzle within a puzzle.
The movement of the boy feels weighted, providing that touch of realism to the game, yet at times the controls feel sluggish. You do not have total control over the Trico. You can order your Trico to move in a certain direction, jump, sit or dive and pray that it listens to you. It is basically like your pet dog. It has desires of its own, and at times the Trico would not listen to you… just like my pet dog.
At times you might think that the game is glitching out on you when your Trico does not go where you want it to, but just like any living thing, it needs encouragement if it feels its life is in danger or it’s just too stubborn.
It did get frustrating when the Trico would not follow my commands, but along the way I learnt to let it roam freely as that actually helped me to solve some puzzles. The way it interacts and impacts your surrounding actually provides you with an alternate path to solving some of the problems.
The biggest drawback for this game is its awful camera angle. It does a great job in capturing the scale and beauty of the place but in tight passageways, it was a hindrance as your huge Trico blacks out the screen with its feathers. This was a massive hindrance to enjoying the game.
All that being said, I love the fact that the developers decided to make the boy look like a Pixar character but making it such that the Trico looked so life-like.
The lighting, landscape and colours are magnificent. The environment is richly detailed. From the rust on the chains to the eroded stone etchings that line the passageway leaves you in awe. It gets you wondering who made this place? Why is it so run down? Why is this even here? The landscape simply begs you to stay a little while longer to appreciate the beauty it offers.
Ultimately, the game delivers an impactful story of friendship, hope, sacrifice and separation.
Though the controls got a little wonky and the camera can go berserk, The Last Guardian will certainly leave a lasting impression on you. Maybe we would get to learn more about this world in the days ahead.