Its been 7 years since we first saw The Last Guardian its undergone 9 years of active development spanning 2 console generations, had untold numbers of cancellation rumours and the original development team closed. It’s fair to say that The Last Guardian’s had a rough ride. Despite all of this though The Last Guardian truly shines. It’s a game like no other, a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale medium. Fumito Ueda and his team have achieved something truly special with The Last Guardian in so many ways.
The Last Guardian has a premise quite unlike anything else in gaming, the story revolves around a bond between a boy and a beast known as Trico. This bond is born of necessity as the boy and Trico attempt to escape the place they find themselves trapped in however, as the game progresses, this bond strengthens not only between the boy and Trico but between you as a player and Trico. You emotionally attach to Trico and by extension the boy because, despite being an entirely fictional creature, Trico felt real in a way no other animal has in a game. With stunning animations, wonderful sound design and convincing A.I. Trico is the most lifelike animal I’ve ever seen in gaming.
Gameplay is often used to drive home this bond placing you in control the boy and tasking you with navigating your way through a seemingly abandoned ancient city. The game consists mostly of physics or climbing based puzzles which require the aid of Trico to complete. It becomes clear during these puzzles and the action sequences interspersed between them that Trico cares greatly for the boy, with him protesting and crying if the boy has to leave him behind and then nuzzling the boy when he returns. Some have called the The Last Guardian frustrating, saying Trico is unresponsive or tricky to deal with, this however is not the experience I had because while yes Trico sometimes wouldn’t do exactly what I want it normally turned out that Trico was doing the right thing. It’s important to remember that Trico is part of the game and thus when Trico is more interested in something else you too should probably be interested in something else.
The Last Guardian tells its story through Trico and its world with very little reliance on dialogue yet it manages to tell a story deeper and more intricate than most. The ending too provided a sense of satisfaction and closure that rounded off the game perfectly.
The Last Guardian then is an emotional journey through an ancient city with a cat/dog/bird hybrid animal named Trico, something unequivocally different and yet something you can’t afford to miss. Were it not for the niggling performance issues and minor yet significant camera problems it would be perfect however, as it stands, The Last Guardian is still an absolute triumph and I cannot recommend it enough.