The Last Guardian has been under the spotlights for a couple of months before and after its release. Today is largely considered a great game exclusive for Play Station 4, yet many consider it a huge flop. Is that true? Which side is wrong and which one has exaggerated its opinion? We are going to unearth this deep truth kind travellers, since this huge gap among fans and haters has gone too far on the web. Please do keep in mind that these will be my personal opinion, but I am not a fan nor a hater of Fumito Ueda.
Now let’s uncover the why The Last Guardian is a bad game for many players. The main reasons for that, is the camera or movement controls and the AI of Trico. I have to admit it, sometimes the camera just does not work as we players want it to do. Narrow paths and Trico’s movements can jam the camera controls, causing a black screen for few seconds. When Trico is jumping or running, if the camera gets stuck into a pillar or inside a wall, we could even get many black screens. Moving the right stick won’t be of any help, because we would probably cause more problems to the normal track of the camera. Yes, you get it. The camera has a pre-defined track for specific scenes or locations, so any movements of the right stick to take control of the camera, would result in a possible catastrophe. Fright not, fret not kind travellers. You can peacefully play the entire game without fear of fighting with the camera at any corner. Considering my full playthrough it only happened four times and only for the time of a blink. Haters usually love to overstate this issue, yet you have to be warned that this problem might happen to you either. The second major problem which grip the players is the movements of the boy, protagonist (together with Trico the cute animal) of this story. If you played both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus you won’t be new to Fumito Ueda ideas of character movements. The controls reply late to the input, sometimes causing the boy to jump with a delay or to start running without stopping him in time. Many complain about the way the boy runs or dodge during the fights, because he easily falls or stumbles. I personally consider it a big quality of the reality of the game, because we have to consider that he is probably not a warrior, a trained boy who knows how to handle a fight or challenge an enemy. In my humble opinion, I never found it frustrating, even though it might be a poor quality work when Trico is fighting the magic armours, cause Trico could repeatedly stomp its claws/paws into the ground and let the boy stumbling over and over again. Here we are to the major problem many players found hideous or frustrating as being whipped with a whip something like one hundred times: Trico’s AI (Artificial Intelligence). At a specific point of the game, you unlock the ability to give orders or command Trico by pressing a combo of input with your controller. A quick example is the possibility to order Trico to jump over an edge by pressing R1+Triangle (you’ll need it a lot, trust me!). The only problem is that the AI of Trico may not receive that command and get jammed. If this happens, you would need to get off its back, get on it again and press the buttons correctly. You could even mess up its AI only because you have not aimed to the specific point it is meant it has to jump. It happened hardly on my run, maybe I was simply lucky, but it happened twice on my second run, soon after I learned the ability to control Trico. Obviously, forget to give it two or more orders, you would get stuck in seconds, losing Trico forever (or kinda).
Since we discovered the cons of The Last Guardian, which are the pros? Firstly, Trico. “Wait, but why, mister innkeeper? You just said that Trico AI is a mess!”. Yes, I did. Here’s the thing. Trico might be a mess with its AI, but it is for sure amazing for its behaviour, movements and empathy. Trico actually behave like a real animal would behave. Trico has, probably, the best RIG a character has ever been constructed in a video game. Its movements are perfect. Trico walks and jump as a real animal would do, sniffing stuff, exploring the scenario, acting worried, happy, frightened for what is happening around him and about the boy. The first imprinting between Trico and the boy, and the way they will learn to trust each other, fighting together and working to reach the “White Tower” is something precious nowadays. You can feel their bond, you can empathise with them while petting or cuddling Trico, or when you can help him by removing spears from him. I got tears in the ending scene and it was not even the best ending or the most emotional ending I have ever seen. No spoilers, don’t you worry kind travellers. Another big pro of The Last Guardian is the environment and the map that the Team Ico created. You can feel the height of a peak by simply listening to the wind, without even need to look down into the huge gorge. You can feel the nature surrounding you in the open balconies, birds, lizards and leafs flying about in the wind. In a narrow path inside a temple, you can listen to the drops of water falling from the ceiling or you can see a feeble light trying to reach you out of a crack of the wall. Torches, statues and crumpled doors, long corridors and massive iron gates, you can feel it. I am not exaggerating right now. The Nest, as it is called, reminds me of ICO’s Castle. If you played ICO, you cannot forget that castle. Fumito Ueda and his team is always top notch on this aspect. Lastly, I would like to spend a bunch of words about the story. The story might be foggy at the beginning, but you can link all the points when reaching the ending. If you payed attention to the details, you can track down a path of what actually happened. I only felt insecure about one point, but I do not want to spoil your playthrough, so I will keep it for myself.
Kind travellers, The Last Guardian has been an amazing experience for me. I am not going to say that it is perfect, because it is not. It has severe problems that had to be fixed before the launch, but sadly things went differently. That is not a reason to throw rubbish and massive critics upon Team Ico or the game. It is a pearl inside a oyster, a gold nugget under the mud, something precious we have to protect, but even wisely criticise. I hope you liked this quick review of the third opera of the Team Ico, a true Tr-ico (Third Ico). See you soon, kind travellers! 😉