Game Review: The Last Guardian

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It seems like ages ago when we first laid our eyes on the successor to Shadow of Colossus. Will The Last Guardian be worth the lengthy wait? Find out inside!

Release Date December 6, 2016
Genre Action/Adventure
Platforms PS4
Developer SIE Japan
Price $59.99 US
ESRB Rating Mature
Players 1 Player

 

The Last Guardian is very different from any game that I’ve ever played. I went into this game not sure of how I’d feel about it considering I wasn’t exactly enamoured with Shadow of the Colossus and never even played Ico. Even after playing through it, I’m not sure about how I feel. On one hand, it was an incredible journey between a boy and his dog/bird companion. On the other hand, it was a mess of bad controls, an even worse camera, and some excruciatingly annoying moments.

The Last Guardian is a spiritual successor to both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 3. Players that played those previous games will instantly recognize how the story generally utilizes the same theme of isolation and companionship. The Last Guardian throws you into a mysterious world that allows you to uncover its secrets as you play through the game. It’s just you (the boy) and a giant creature named, Trico against everything.

The Last Guardian
Trico becomes a valuable companion as the game goes on.

It’s amazing to see how Trico grows into a loyal companion after finding him chained up and speared in the beginning of the game. He’s scared and irritable at first, but as you gain his trust, trico becomes your protector. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a companion character with such personality in any other video game. Trico will paw at different things like butterflies in the environment, sniff tree branches, or groan annoyingly if he’s upset. He really felt like he was a real creature. While there are so many positives with Trico, the negatives are also hard to ignore.

The Last Guardian
Sometimes you have to pat Trico’s head to calm him down.

You can’t directly control Trico. He is completely independent other than some commands that you learn later in the game to tell him to attack, jump, etc. If this mechanic of the game worked properly, it would be fantastic, but that’s not the case. Trico would consistently refuse to jump, not move to the proper spot, stand instead of moving in the right direction, and just generally refuse to do what I asked of it. I got more frustrated with this game at times than I have with any other game. The wasted time trying to get this creature to do the easiest of tasks made it really difficult to stay level-headed. I could have finished the game in half the time had it not been for all of the control issues that I faced.

The Last Guardian
One of the stained glass symbols that Trico is scared of can be seen to the right.

A lot of the gameplay consists of having Trico do things for you, but it’s not the only thing to do in The Last Guardian. The boy has to do some light platforming and puzzle solving which is enjoyable considering you don’t have to worry about Trico. There are even some enemies in the form of suits of armor that you have to get Trico to destroy. Luckily, Trico hates them and will take them out with ease if he’s able to get to them. There are times when you have to figure out how to get them to Trico or vice-versa, but they were a nice change from the serene tranquility of the world. Other tasks involve finding food in the form of barrels for Trico (sometimes he lays down until he gets food) or destroying stained glass symbols that Trico is scared of. 

As beautiful as the world is, it’s very easy to get lost in it at times, especially outdoors. The colours are always very similar and there isn’t much to differentiate one spot for another. This becomes a distant memory during the memorable chase scenes and collapsing architecture that bring out The Last Guardian’s true beauty. I can’t say the same thing about the indoor areas which feel dull at best and perilous at worst. What makes that a little better is the fantastic lighting and water that really pulls the environments together.

The Last Guardian
One of the platforming moments in The Last Guardian.

Unfortunately, the cramped indoor spaces really bring to light the problematic camera angles that plague The Last Guardian. It’s very hard to have a huge creature next to you and have any sense of where you’re going. I don’t know how many times I tried to adjust the camera angle only to get a screen full of Trico. I had the same type of problem when I was trying to climb on the creature as I would get lost in his feathers or somehow end up on the other side. 

The Last Guardian is certainly a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a beautiful story of a boy and his creature companion through a vast world of puzzles. If you can get past the annoying controls and camera angles, I certainly recommend this game. If you are easily frustrated, it might not be the game for you. I definitely think the story and experience makes up for the negatives, though. Give this one a chance.

*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by PlayStation for review purposes*

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