After going through a troubled development cycle, The Last Guardian has finally been released for the PlayStation 4. From the creators of cult classics ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian tells the story of a boy and his friendship with a beast named Trico. Dialogue is minimal and the game utilises a unique style of storytelling. It starts with the boy waking up in a cave alongside a chained and injured Trico, which marks the beginning of their journey as they navigate the ruins in search for freedom.
You will spend most of your time surveying the environment and figuring out how to move forward. The game is entirely linear and thus only one solution exists for puzzles and platforming sequences. Finding that solution and making sure Trico is in the correct place for it to occur is the bulk of the game.
When the game starts, the boy and Trico don’t know each other but over time their bond becomes stronger. That impacts gameplay, as later in the game players can give direct commands such as jump or attack.
Trico’s AI functions differently from all other video games. It behaves like a pet, which often listens to its master but has a mind of its own. The Last Guardian fully embraces this idea and it definitely is part of the game’s charm. Some-times you will have to perform certain actions to make it respond such as feeding it barrels of food or petting it after a fight against the knights. These knights are powered by mystical energy and they will try and catch the boy. Upon being caught, you must rapidly tap all the buttons on your controller.
Trico is also afraid of specific eye symbols that are a part of the puzzles in each room and can only move forward if you figure out how to destroy them. The gameplay of The Last Guardian sounds simplistic because it is exactly that. At the end, this is a puzzle game with platforming.
Even though it took such a long time for the game to come out, there are several technical issues present on a standard PS4. The framerate can take a massive hit in open areas and during set-pieces while the camera can be a pain to control. Thankfully due to the nature of the game, they don't impact the gameplay all that much.
The Last Guardian is a magical experience, not all that different from raising a pet. The game tries to connect the player to Trico through the boy, and the end result is an unforgettable journey as you and this mystical creature learn to trust each other. The technical issues are an annoyance, but The Last Guardian does enough to earn a recommendation, despite their existence....