After more than a decade in development hell, the long awaited Last Guardian has finally been released. And 10 years is a very long time to wait, especially for a video game. 10 years worth of rumors and anticipation. Developed by legendary designer Fumito Ueda and the talent behind iconic games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus both legendary games in their own right. In The Last Guardian, you take control of an unknown and unnamed boy who mysteriously wakes up in what seems to be a labyrinth of some sort. More surprisingly next to him is a legendary man-eating monster named Trico chained up and injured. During the course of the game, these two establish an unlikely friendship and bond as they begin the long climb upwards out of the labyrinth they find themselves in.
The cornerstone of The Last Guardian’s is its gameplay and teamwork mechanic, you will be solving puzzles, navigating the obstacles of the world and compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses during the course of the game. Sometimes you will use the Trico’s strength and power to help the boy, and sometimes Trico will need the boy’s courage and quick thinking to help him. At first, both the boy and Trico are frightened of each other. But the more they work together, the more the bond deepens between these two and they can start solving more complicated puzzles and navigate larger obstacles. During the course of the game, you gain the ability to command Trico to climb up obstacles, pick up objects and do other simple commands like jump, stay or attack.
Like Ico and Shadow, The Last Guardian is an amazing looking game in its own right. And it has its own unique style, from its amazing lighting, green forests and amazing vistas down to how well Trico is animated. Having said that are some definite signs that this was a game originally designed for the old PlayStation 3, as there are a few areas in certain spots where there are low-quality textures visible. Which really needs to be mentioned here, is the amazing job that Fumito Ueda and his team did on Trico. He is beautifully rendered and animated, from the way the wind blows through his feathers, down to the way his muscles tense up before he makes a big jump. Trico for all intents and purposes is one big ass dog.
And as such acts as you would expect a giant, intelligent dog to act. You can read exactly what emotions Trico is experiencing from anxiety, rage, excitement and yearning. Which makes him more than just some just flunky sidekick you can boss around, but an independent creature with a mind all of his own.And that is where most reviewers got the game completely wrong, the fact that Trico does not jump at your every command is not due to a bad IA. Trico is an entity in and of himself. Trico won’t always do what you want him to, let alone do what he’s told he is an animal/monster after all not a programmed robot. Sometimes you will struggle to get him to make the high jumps or reach for the high ledges, while most reviewers saw it as being a problem with bad AI I view it as part of what makes Trico so unique.
Just like any pet or animal you are training, there will be times it won’t listen to you and do its own thing. Same thing applies to Trico. The level design in The Last Guardian is simply amazing, from forests, grassy plains to ancient ruins and rising spires. All of them compliment each other perfectly and gets integrated smoothly with the puzzles and the obstacles you navigate during the game. The puzzles in The Last Guardian are not overly complicated and are always consistent in the way it is presented and laid out to you. There are times when the solutions to a puzzle are not what you would have expected, but it keeps the puzzles fresh and interesting. The game difficulty slowly ramps up before long you will be dealing with more enemies, more complicated puzzles and larger open areas to navigate.
Which brings me to the two biggest issues holding back this game from being an instant classic. The terrible camera angles, which sometimes makes something as simple as navigating an obstacle an infuriating experience, to say the least, I did find tweaking the camera sensitivity in my case did help a bit. The second big issue is the controls, which I can only describe is at times being overly responsive and at other times not responsive at all. Both these issues feed into one another overcomplicating something that should be as simple as navigating from point A to point B a chore. Other minor issues I have is the tool tips that explain the movements in the game, they cannot be disabled so till the very end of the game each time you climb or pick up an item you get told how to do it via the onscreen prompts displayed on the top right hand corner.
Also, there are no options for multiple save game slots on the game so everything gets saved in a single file. So when you miss a collectible or want to replay a certain section you can only go back as far as your last checkpoint which is a pretty archaic way of doing things in this day and age. Despite some of its problems, The Last Guardian has some of the most emotionally gripping and powerful gaming moments in a video game I have ever had the privilege to have experienced and have played. Some reviewers have described it as a flop 10 years in the making, I view it as a flawed masterpiece. So if you have between 8-10 hours to spend I can highly recommend The Last Guardian as it is a video game experience you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.