The Last Guardian, a long-awaited third game from Fumito Ueda, who has finally come to PS4. Especially those who enjoyed Ico (2001) and Shadow of the Colossus (2005), two of the best games in the catalog of PS2 now finally can meet The Last Guardian.
A great thing about The Last Guardian is that is exactly what the fans expected! An adventure with all the greatness from the earlier work of Fumito Ueda and his team. Given its long development cycle, Last Guardian feels like a game came out of a time capsule. An adventure of puzzles and platforms with a minimalist approach, both playable and narrative, makes you forgive its shortcomings.
The game starts with a boy who found himself locked in a cell, with this huge and beautiful animal chained next to him called Trico. These first few minutes serve to learn the basics of the controls along with it’s very simple game mechanics. Jump up and down, grab, push and throw objects are the basic actions that we must learn to solve a lot of situations until Trico and the boy begin to understand each other and work together, which later add more complexity to game-play.
The narrative in the last guardian compared to the earlier works of Fumito Ueda is not as enigmatic and cryptic as in previous games. Now there is a narrator, who appears rarely and telling his version of events. If you remember playing Ico, how game threw us into that mysterious castle without explanation, and we were the ones who had to build the story and try to find some explanation for what we saw on the screen.
In The Last Guardian, they wanted to tell the story in a different way and finally ends up working like clockwork. The Last Guardian’s game mechanics may feel like Ico, in the narrative style is quite different, and is more like a story or fable, having a very nice closed and perfectly understandable story, in which no room for theories or lose threads.
Simply, the story is summarized in that the child has to escape a huge and mysterious fortress, and it will need the help of Trico, a wounded animal that’s also imprisoned for unknown reasons. The relationship between human and animal is built slowly, and Trico will rely increasingly on us, and even accept certain commands, as you scroll to a particular site, jump or push or hit some objects .All with the goal of overcoming the numerous puzzles and platform areas that we are on our way, in a completely linear development, which does not leave much room for exploration.
The great success of the game, we almost dare to qualify miracle, it is how they recreated Trico’s animal behavior, as realistically and convincingly that even in the early hours of the game will leave you impressed. You stay entranced watching animations of Trico, that they constantly changed throughout the game, depending on the context.
And it is not just a technical virtue; it is surely the biggest culprit for such a long development and which is why the game could not be completed for PS3. Attention to detail is amazing, every detail gives us a cue to interpret the body language of Trico to see if it will take a leap or not, if its hesitant or afraid, with the sounds emitting, transmitting anger, sadness or doubt.
Trico is fantastic, definitely the best in the game, and it can almost be described as extravagant by Fumito Ueda the fact of putting such a large animal in a so narrow scenarios, with all the problems this could cause, like animations and physical. But it is perfectly resolved, and it is almost impossible to see an interaction problem with Trico and its surroundings, with a craft of animations that the artists must have been put a crazy amount of effort.
As mentioned, Trico is an animal with its personality and interests and does not always obey our orders. This may frustrate you at the time, but such decision seems to us a wise move and makes the animal more convincing. Also, there is an evolution in this regard, and gradually the protagonists are better understood, and in the final stretch often there is neither to guide the animal on the right track, as it has learned its lesson well.
Trico and its animations, behavior, the relationship is being established between him and the child, it seems impeccable, but unfortunately the game does have other problems such as the camera or character interaction between the boy and Trico, and these issues are far from outstanding, although overall the game has a fantastic taste, especially if you love the genre.
The camera follows the action is very problematic at times, and should not give so much trouble in such a leisurely game.It strives to be situated very close to the character we control, and to move in such small spaces, and surrounded by such a large animal; we must constantly be correcting and moving for good visibility.
Another failure comes a change in control has occurred in the last months of development, and that seems a mistake.Originally, as in Ico and especially in Shadow of the Colossus, you’d need to press the R1 button to grab Trico or other objects such as chains. This, as in the previous game of Fumito Ueda, creating a physical link between the player and what was happening on screen, and it worked well in the gameplay aspect.
Now our hero is automatically grabs Trico and other objects, like vines or chains, imagine in an attempt to make the most simple and accessible gameplay for all types of players. But this has brought its problems, because now loose or out of Trico is very complicated, because of the slightest contact with the animal ‘s body, you become automatically grab.
Putting a very concrete example, when we are about Trico in a hallway or room especially small size, we will throw a while to be back on the ground when the original control scheme is sufficient to release the R1. And of course, you can not change the controls in options as this decision has brought some changes in game design, and have not been able to offer both options. Nor do we like to be reminded constantly on – screen controls, because they are not so complex as to not assimilate after a few minutes, and it is a warning that we can not turn off.
Also moving to a particular location on Trico’s body is sometimes complicated. Sometimes the boy gets stuck when trying to move from the animal’s back on his head, when the problems mentioned above come together such as camera, automatic grip, wanting to go to a specific point on the body things can get frustrating.
And following the criticisms, there is some flaws very specific design, surprising in a game that takes many years cooking.Overall, if you’re a fan of the adventures of puzzles and platforms, the game is not complicated, although it is not a walk, and at times is challenging. The problem is that sometimes you have found the solution to a problem, you know how to continue, what is the right path, but the game becomes absurdly rigid in its rules, and requires you and Trico are positioned in the exact point for performing certain actions, what makes you doubt whether or not it was the right solution. This can ruin the fluidity and progress in the adventure sometime. In a puzzle game, the difficulty should be on finding solutions, not execute them, and sometimes The Last Guardian tests the patience of the player, out of sheer clumsiness. We love that Trico does not obey our commands all the time, instead does what it wants, but sometimes you spend more time “fighting” with running a successful action in trying to solve the puzzle.
Although these failures may sound pretty serious, and obviously we can not ignore the shortcomings, yet the whole experience is pleasing. These days it’s impossible to none to find productions like this, without any complexity to tell a nice story, entertain and fascinate with its beauty, and Trico becomes, one of the most beloved characters in the history of video games, it is impossible not get attached to it. Conveys more with the movement of your body and your grunts, the vast majority of characters from other games with hundreds of lines of dialogue. And we owe it to Fumito Ueda and his team, having been committed to making a success of such an ambitious concept.
The Last Guardian can be completed in about 10 or 12 hours, depending on how you get stuck in one of their situations, and you could say it takes about twice as Ico, game which is very similar in its approach. There is something like a collectible, allowing us to unlock a series of suits in the second game, but we believe it is special enough game to make you feel like back in the future to enjoy it, like the previous games of Team ICO.
Graphically, although evidence in many respects its origin in the previous generation of consoles, it seemed that the team applied updates to make it look like a game that’s made for PS4. The animations are amazing, both Trico as our protagonist, very organic (while sometimes generate some problems or strange situation), and the physics are very realistic, with some prominence in some puzzles. The textures are improved, and there are performance problems, with frame drops in complex scenes (only if you’re playing on a launch model PS4 and not the PRO), but the art direction is so good and so unique that is a game that leaves some prints of great strength and beauty.
Special mention should tell what they have done with Trico, both in modeling and animations, superb, and only with their movements conveys your mood or the next action to be performed. Because video games should be more than just textures of high quality, resolution, some polygons and graphic effects, and more often technology should be at the service of emotions, creating believable characters and charming, with which you connect, and you leave a lasting memory. In this, The Last Guardian meets much note and gives a lesson to other games.
Also the use of sound we liked. Each grunt or small cry of Trico has a meaning, silence and the sound of wind playing a leading role, and when to show music, he does it with elegance and emotion, emphasizing the emotions without retracing them in excess, and increasing the epic when it should.For though The Last Guardian is a leisurely and slow – paced game, also it has intense and dramatic moments, technically and artistically perfectly resolved.
Although as much as we love the whole package, we can’t simply give an outstanding score or turn a blind eye to its shortcomings, truth to be told that it is such a unique game, and so special that any lover of adventure and puzzle genre should play. It is hard to find a game with an almost forgotten formula such as this one, and it is a good way to offer something unique and valid today. The Last Guardian is a beautiful rare gem and many PS4 players will enjoy this beautiful, imperfect and charming adventure! We wish to see more games like this.
We conducted this review with a promotional copy that has provided us by Sony.