(The following is taken from a post on our forum)
It was a game that had, I think, even more frustrating moments than Shadow of the Colossus; a game with infamously frustrating moments. And at the same time, The Last Guardian gave me what no other non-Ueda art has come close to giving me.
Not enough critical outlets, for my liking at least, gave this game enough credit during last year’s GOTY-season. Specifically, for what an undertaking this project was, and what an achievement it is in bold video game design.
I felt an immediate nostalgia after beating the game, much like I did with both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. And time will undoubtedly sand off some of the rough edges in my memory. This was certainly a game with poor design in places, and I think it was way too long. I know it’s fresh in my mind, but I don’t know if there’s another game for which my criticism is so black and white. I said this on my stream on Saturday evening, but this was a tale of two games: outdoors, it was a beautiful and unique platforming game wherein you try to wrangle your very fussy puzzle-solving partner, Trico. And despite the occasional frustrating moment outdoors, and the immense patience required, it was all worth it because this game had that Ueda magic. That Team Ico aesthetic and foggy glaze to the world.
There were so many outdoor moments that were incredible to behold. One influence (I think) that I was not expecting was Uncharted. Specifically, I think Uncharted 2 influenced some of the moments of brief, intense action. That also checks out development timeline-wise, since this game was being designed (or redesigned) in 2009. But The Last Guardian has some Uncharted moments that I think best many great Uncharted moments. That was a nice surprise.
The other side of the coin is the indoor moments. I understand that it makes sense to have moments where you go inside the massive structures in this world; there would be a lot less game if you didn’t, and some of its puzzle tropes would have nowhere to go, but every moment of intense frustration occurred in an indoor section. Whether it was trying to avoid the other Trico beast in a poorly designed and utterly confusing action segment, or trying to pull on a chain quickly to open a gate before half a dozen of the statue guards attack the boy. They detracted from the experience greatly.
Ultimately though, this game succeeds for me because I think it’s such a daring achievement. By the end of the adventure I deeply cared about Trico and its (his/her?) well-being. The fact that developers programmed every bit of that is amazing to me. Just amazing. Trico felt like a real animal, good and bad.
If this is the end of Team Ico, I would be fine with that. They’ve given so much to the artform of video games. So much. I think they’re a team of absolute, uncompromised artists. I’ve never fully deciphered either of their previous works, and doubt I’ll ever decipher The Last Guardian. But goddamn did they all make me feel something. In the context of each of their times, they had no right to exist. And they not only exist, but stand out starkly. Three unforgettable works that I feel fortunate to have experienced. Even just one of them would have been enough.
Whether or not there is a fourth, thank you, Team Ico. Thank you.
Send an email to the author of this post at xtal@Tap-Repeatedly.com.