10 Thoughts on The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian is the 3rd game from Team Ico. Their previous two games, Ico (2001) and Shadow of the Colossus (2005) were very well received, so expectations for The Last Guardian were very high. This PS4 game has been in development for nearly 9 years, with Team Ico having begun working on it in 2007. That kind of development cycle is pretty crazy in the modern era, so I was quite surprised to hear it took that long. Anyway, now that we’ve had a chance to get our hands on this game and put it through the paces, here’s our spoiler free thoughts on the game.
10 Thoughts on The Last Guardian
1. The visuals are nice.
The visuals are an interesting mix. The game was originally being developed for the Playstation 3. However during the 9 years of it’s development cycle, obviously technology changed and the game is now out on the PS4. Overall the visuals were good, if not as impressive as I was hoping. The set pieces are nice, but not as stunning as, say, Uncharted 4. There are still some impressive visuals though, such as the wind rustling individual feathers on Trico (your animal companion in the game). While many parts of the ruins do look picturesque, I wasn’t blown away overall and think that’s probably due to the hold over from originally being a PS3 game.
2. The camera could use a kick in the lens.
While not the worst I’ve experienced, the camera in this game definitely wasn’t always on your side. It had some weird quirks and would, at times, show odd angles. There were also moments when you would run forward with the boy, and the camera would not immediately follow. Instead, you’d be far away from the camera and it would eventually zoom in. Other times, I’d be trying to get a good look at part of a puzzle, and it would get stuck on a wall or other rock formation.
3. The controls could have been a lot better.
One of the frustrating parts of the game was the controls. Many times I could not get the boy to do what I wanted. I’d be hanging from a chain, wanting to jump off it, and would slide down instead of jumping. Then there are times I’d be trying to move around Trico, who you can climb on, and I’d go the wrong way, or get stuck underneath him. Other times I’d try and jump off him, but the boy would continue to crawl around him. While the controls aren’t horrible, they could have used a LOT more polish.
4. This game needs control mapping.
To piggy back on the last though, The Last Guardian could have really used some control mapping. I’n most games I play, “X” on the PS4 controller is the jump button. However in the game jump is mapped to the Triangle, pretty much the opposite to where I’d expect it to be. While you will eventually get used to this, especially thanks to the PERSISTENT on screen reminders, more than once I screwed up by pressing the wrong buttons. Many of them just aren’t’ intuitive compared to where most other games place similar buttons.
5. The puzzles are great.
Overall I really enjoyed most of the puzzles. Some were obvious, go here, do this. While others required much more thought. There were a few times when I was so stuck that I wanted to reach for a guide, however persistence and creativity eventually paid off. In fact, there were times when I was stuck and my buddy Trico actually showed me the way forward. I did enjoy how many of the puzzles involved you working with Trico to solve them (for the most part).
6. This game requires patience.
The Last Guardian is all about your journey with Trico. However, he is an independent creature, and a minion to be commanded. Which means you have absolutely no direct control over him (for the most part). So while Trico is great at helping you, there are many times when you know exactly what you need him to do, but he won’t. Sometimes it took almost 5 minutes before I got him to perform the move I needed him to do. I’m not sure if he was just being lazy, or waiting for me to stand in a specific spot. So if that kind of coaxing would bother you, you might want to steer clear of this game.
7. The Last Guardian is best in small doses.
With the above point in mind, I think this game is best played for maybe an hour or two at at time before you move on to something else. While I love a good marathon gaming session, especially on a cold weekend morning, I don’t think The Last Guardian should be played in that fashion. Most likely you will get frustrated playing this game if you play for too long. So sip The Last Guardian, don’t gulp it. As the story is relatively short (maybe 10-12 hours), there is no reason to rush through the game anyway.
8. This game isn’t going to be for everyone.
The Last Guardian is basically one giant escort mission. Team Ico took one of the worst tropes in video games and built an entire game around it. The only way they could have punished us more is if it was all in an underwater level. That being said, I think that The Last Guardian is still a pretty successful game. Overall it’s fun, but the pacing can be a bit slow and the game can get a bit repetitive. That’s why I say it’s not for everyone. You have to like these types of games. While it’s not without its flaw, the game can also be very rewarding when you finally figure out that challenging puzzle.
9. The commercials spoiled a bit of the game for me.
Just as an FYI, there is a small spoiler in one of the TV commercials. I’ll spare you the details, but there is a pretty cool moment in the game that I only figured out because I remember the dramatic scene from the TV commercial. It would have been much more rewarding had I figured it out on my own.
10. I liked the early game a lot.
One of the neat things Team Ico did with The Last Guardian is that they just drop you in the game. No fancy cut scene, no explanation, you just wake up and go. The first hour or so is all about you figuring out what to do in the world and building your bond with Trico. Over the course of the game, those hallmarks will both expand and carry forward.