The Last Guardian. One of the greatest games ever made. And also one of the most frustrating.
Yet, without spoiling anything, the genius of The Last Guardian is in its imperfection. If I could only use one word to describe The Last Guardian, I would choose ‘organic’, as opposed to the mechanical gameplay of most of modern games. The feeling I got from completing this journey was that I had to grow a solution, rather than simply find the right combination of button presses. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve played before, yet if you have the patience (a lot of it) you’ll feel richly rewarded by what has been experienced by the end of your journey with Trico. Not everyone will agree with this perspective, but I hope The Last Guardian sets the bar for how games can be presented as experiences that are lived, rather than merely solved.
It isn’t without its technical flaws; I was most disappointed with the frame rate drops on the original Playstation 4, sometimes dropping into the low 20s in outdoor areas, whereas on the PS4 Pro it apparently runs at a mostly consistent 30fps. If you can afford it, I would strongly recommend upgrading to the PS4 Pro before playing The Last Guardian. I hope this doesn’t become a trend with new PS4 releases. There are also camera issues and other graphical glitches, but nothing that makes the game unplayable.
The Last Guardian definitely gets my recommendation. Trico is probably the best AI character ever in a video game. The amount of detail in Trico’s behaviour is simply staggering. If you haven’t played the previous Team Ico games though, play the games in the order that they were released: Ico, then Shadow of the Colossus, and finally The Last Guardian; you’ll appreciate the evolution of the series better that way. The Last Guardian combines elements of the first two titles, but manages to bring its own unique gameplay to the mix. The thematic and artistic continuity with the older titles is very evident, as is the gameplay. I would also use the word ‘uncompromising’ to describe The Last Guardian. While Ueda-san broke new ground with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian is the game where he took the most risks, like an experimental indie game with the budget of a full priced game. It feels like a miracle that this game was even released.
Apparently Ueda wants to make a first person shooter at some point (next?). After playing through The Last Guardian, I look forward to seeing him completely turn the genre on it’s head.