The Last Guardian has finally found its way into the disc trays of PS4s. After a ridiculous level of obscure, backhand changes to schedule in order to delay it to PS4 (paraded as technical difficulties needing work), we can finally tell if it was all worth it or not.
Personally, I believe so, but many others would disagree with me. The game is undoubtedly and very obviously flawed. Most of the reviews and opinions I have come across echo the same annoyances I had with the controls, camera work, and the big feathered fella’s obstinacy.
These issues are either overcome by the individual, and the love shines through, or they allow it to diminish their overall opinion of this title. While I was definitely irked by its faults, I absolutely adore this game.
An unfathomably massive and intricately designed environment, a very lovable duo and their teary bond, creative puzzles and thrilling platform action. Maybe I’m being biased, being such a massive fan of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, but I always try to judge games as independently and objectively as possible.
My biggest complaint is the glaringly low framerate the game suffers from on a standard PS4. Unless you have a PS4 Pro, the game will not run altogether smoothly. Having being delayed specifically so that it could shine its brightest on the current generation of consoles, this is a serious screwup. It’s just plain bad optimisation.
Those that have not played the previous two masterpieces in the series might very easily be put off with its rather unsteady controls and gameplay. The protagonists in these games tend to scrabble about a lot, which although lends a much more organic feel to characters, may deter players used to characters that stop exactly when you let go of the analog stick.
The camera also has some issues. It will often pan all over the place, making keeping track of your progression difficult every so often. This is especially the case with more claustrophobic spots where it just doesn’t know where to go.
I feel that its undoubtedly sizeable issues cannot restrain one of the most beautiful and soulful games to come out recently. Being a Fumito Ueda game, everything is very enigmatic and surreal. There is a constantly spiritual, otherworldly ambiance that carries the game. Playing The Last Guardian really does have a very dissociative effect on the individual.
The game takes you on a puzzling journey through a multi-dimensional citadel. A young boy inexplicably finds himself trapped inside this sprawling building, face to face with an initially frightened and quarrelsome ‘Trico’ – a chimera of sorts. Their budding bond and progressive relationship are, of course, the game’s main emotional drive.
Trico is completely adorable, if not a little uncooperative. He will often stare at you ineffectually as the little man furiously stamps his feet shouting orders. But that is ultimately all part of his naughty charm. Trico resembles the best factors of domesticated house pets, the avatar of cat memes.
Trico may appear placid most of the time, but he harbours a well of repressed terror, pain and fury that comes gushing out whenever confronted by his clanking tormentors. Throughout the entirety of the game, you will often encounter strange suits of animated armour. They are hell-bent on abducting our young protagonist, all the time throwing spears at Trico, who will go berserk and begin tossing the empty knights around like toy soldiers with aggravated vim.
These encounters season relatively relaxing puzzle-based platform activities, which are very creative and enjoyable. There is a very unique spin thrown in here, as you and your beast must work together in order to solve puzzles requiring a mixture of human ingenuity and monstrous strength, height, and leaping.
That’s pretty much the lion’s share of the gameplay. You and your companion fight and think your way through each section of this immeasurable prison, searching for a way out. It’s the sheer level of emotional bonding you get to do with Trico that makes the game so wonderful. That, and some pretty nifty puzzle and platform design that doesn’t ever get stale or repetitive.
Trico is one of the most animated and life-like non-human characters in any game. The only creature that comes to mind with as much believable personality is the Xenomorph from Alien: Isolation.
Trico will spend much of your time together blinking at you quizzically as you hammer commands away trying to get him to do what you want. However, the amount of cute, silly, frantic and violent behaviour you will witness from him will undoubtedly fill you with much wonder for this very enigmatic monster.
When you think you have him/her figured out, he/she (or the game in general) will introduce some new aspect to their history or makeup to keep you dumbfounded. Much of this game and its plot and characters – as fans of this series will tell you – is open to interpretation. It relies on the player to narrate what they feel is happening, rather than constantly force-feeding you rhetoric.
This game is definitely for a very niche group of gamers. It takes much patience, a sense of wonder and a love for puzzles. If you think this game isn’t right for you, don’t bother with expensive disappointment. However, if the opposite is true, you are in for a wonderfully emotional journey.