A journey a decade in the making.
First announced at E3 2009, The Last Guardian was supposed to be a PS3 exclusive. The development of the game began a decade ago in 2007. After multiple delays, all hope was lost and every time Sony showed a trailer, I thought it was to pay homage to a game that could have been so much. Coming from the masterminds behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, expectations were high for the adventure of a boy and his griffin companion, Trico. Does it rise to player expectations or was this one better lived as a memory?
Story: The last guardian
The story of the game is very simple and you don’t get to know a whole lot until you reach the end. You don the role of a boy who awakes in a dilapidated castle with strange tattoos on his body. In the room is the creature Trico, who is the boy’s (your) companion for the rest of the game. The events of the story are narrated in the background. The narration is very similar to that we have seen in Ori and the Blind Forest, and it is quite enjoyable. There are times when you are unsure of what to do next and the narrator says exactly what you need to hear to solve the puzzle at hand.
Overall, the story though very simple is very well executed. It’s the intriguing way in which the story is executed which will ensure you get to the end of the game, even if the journey gets quite frustrating.
One thing to keep in mind is that the game was designed to release between 2011 and 2013, but the game saw the light of day in 2016. Even though we have seen games like Doom revive the basic concept of run and gun, there are games like Mighty Number 9 that have disappointed us. The gameplay of the Last Guardian is a mixed bag. It is extremely immersive when it works and extremely frustrating when it doesn’t. For example, when you are controlling the boy and need to navigate a room to get from point A to point B to pull a lever, the only thing that will frustrate you is the camera angle at times. Add Trico to the mix and things get annoying very fast. Initially, the boy cannot command the beast and you have to wait for him to perform the desired action. This can get very irritating, especially when you know what the beast needs to do and all you can do is sit for a good 30-40 seconds before he does it.
When you do get the ability to command the beast it is a task to get him to do what is required. For example, there is a section where he lowers his tail so you can climb it. But this action is only triggered if you stand in a particular spot and call out to him for almost a minute. It’s just frustrating and you keep questioning yourself whether what you are doing is right or not.
At its core, The Last Guardian is a puzzle game. You don’t take on any enemies and you can’t control the fighting of the beast. All you have to do is lure the guards to Trico or vice versa and watch him stomp on them. There are set pieces where you are navigating your way away from the enemy while solving puzzles, and this is the adrenalin rush moment in the game.
If you have played games that involve AI companions like The Last of Us, Uncharted, 2009 Prince of Persia and more then you know that the less hand holding that’s required for the AI character the more fluidly they perform their tasks, the more immersive the experience. Sadly, Trico fails in this aspect many times. You will command him to jump and it just sits there unresponsive. I tried everything else there was and came back to commanding the beast to jump and he obeyed. There was nothing significant I did at this time that would have prompted him to do this. There are other times when the synergy between the two is perfect, which is why the experience gets frustrating when it doesn’t work.
Overall, the gameplay is a lot of fun and immersive when Trico obeys and equally frustrating when he doesn’t. The puzzles themselves are very well designed and will leave you scratching your head for a while before you figure them out.
|Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 4 Pro
Price: 3499/- (as per PlayStation online Store)
Reviewed on: Playstation 4 Pro
Developers: Team Ico, GenDesign, SIE Japan Studio
Publishers: Sony Interactive Entertainment
We played The Last Guardian on a PS4 Pro and the game looks gorgeous. The movement of Trico and the boy are quite a realistic barring a few times. But, this only happens when you are running away from enemies. As far as the environment is concerned the dilapidated castle is a visual treat with flora growing on the ancient walls.
The set pieces where the castle comes down looks stunning too and will keep you at the edge of your seat. From the blades of grass moving as you navigate through them to shadows being cast all around, the graphics of the game are very impressive. I was hard-pressed to find any frame rate issues too in the game.
The graphics of the game are its highlight. It isn’t Uncharted 4, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
There are hardly any dialogues in the game apart from the narration and the silence in a way is good. With the press of a button the boy calls out to the beast and it will remind you of times when you called out to your pet (if you had one when you were young). It’s quite cute. Apart from that, there is the fast paced orchestral music which takes over during the set pieces and there are times when there is no background score so you can enjoy the sound of grass moving as you navigate the environment.
Apart from the choppy camera and annoying mechanics when controlling Trico, The Last Guardian is a good puzzle game. It won’t appeal to everyone for sure. It will appeal only to those that love solving puzzles. There is no running and gunning, or taking down foes, and there are times when you will throw your controller in frustration, but if you pull through, you will be satisfied with the overall experience.
Trico doesn’t respond at times
leading to a frustrating experience
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.