The Last Guardian is honestly a mix of things, some aspects of the game are masterful and beautiful, while others felt weak and underdeveloped where I feel like more could have been done. Your companion throughout the game, Trico, is beautifully designed and the creature actually has a personality. It feels like an actual being that you’re developing a relationship with throughout. Forget about the overhyped Elizabeth AI in BioShock Infinite. This AI actually lives up to technical expectations and potentially surpasses them. While Trico can’t be controlled directly, you can tell him to destroy certain things, call him towards you to have him go a certain way, or even beckon him to jump. You can also climb on him and issue commands, harkening back to the moments in Shadow of the Colossus when you could ride the bosses of that game. While the sheer act of climbing and getting off of Trico can sometimes be tedious or cumbersome, ultimately it didn’t become a major bother that really affected my playthrough. I also had some funny platforming moments with the camera, when Trico’s face would take up the whole screen while I try to get on his back. While some would prefer directly controlling him, I feel it adds a new level of depth to him, forcing and showing you that he is free and independent. He can largely decide to do what he wants.
Fumito Ueda, the creator of games such as Shadow of the Colossus (a personal favorite) and Ico tends to have his games revolve around certain things. Being isolated, on your own. Being forced to make sacrifices in a tough world that is out to get you, while also finding companionship in the darkness surrounding you. The world of The Last Guardian echoes SOTC to me, as it feels like an ancient, old world, beautiful but showing its age, and showing its inhabitants that it needs to move on. While the actual graphics in the game have been divisive (at least in my experience) I feel that the art, not really the up-close graphics, are the standout. That’s not to say the graphics look bad (they really aren’t that bad) but it’s the direction that the studio took that shows the scope of their talent, almost going so far as to rival the art of Ghibli films such as Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle.
The main story here, while I did understand the basic themes, is not as straightforward or clear as SOTC was. In Shadow, the goal was clear; Kill 16 Colossus’ to save your true love. While there wasn’t a whole lot of backstory, at least the goal was somewhat obvious and the ending could be taken literally or symbolically. In Last Guardian, it’s more like Dark Souls. The story is largely left open to interpretation and the game is rife with symbolism. If you’re like me, and like piecing stories together, and theorizing, then you will find this game’s story to actually be quite good and full of depth.
The Last Guardian has beautiful art, an interesting but vague story, and some of the best companion AI I’ve seen in years.
However some issues with the controls, some annoying puzzles, and camera issues affected my experience, and may have affected just how much fun I ended up having.
Final Score: 8/10
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