The Last Guardian Review – A Beautiful Yet Annoyingly Frustrating Game
Let’s start with the good for this game, as the spiritual sequel to one of my favourite childhood games – The Shadow of Colossus – I owe this game that at least. Not to say the game is horrid, just that at some moments I wanted to bang the controller against my own head in sheer frustration.
Anyways – if you’ve even glanced at the title recently you’ll have to agree that the The Last Guardian is a pretty looking game. Perhaps not in the, look at how crisp my graphics look – this could be a real room, type of situation. Rather it’s just a stunning rendition of an artistic imagination come to life. Whether it’s the colours, the lighting, or even the architecture, the game itself seems to just be stunning It all blend’s together in such a way that you can’t help but stop and stare during moments, especially when the fantastic music provided for the game hits it’s peak, and feel like your living a childhood adventure come to life.
The story is exactly what I would expect out of a Shadow of Colossus sequel – never truly explained but easy enough to figure out. The main character – an unnamed child – wakes up in the ruins of a castle. He’s been taken from his home, and from there the mission is simple – find your way back. With that in mind we set forth, and quickly encounter our partner for this adventure, Trico. A large, weird, cat-bird hybrid creature that we create an emotional bond with over the 12 hour duration of the game. Their relationship is essentially suppose to be the crux of the story – the bond you create together with Trico and how that makes you feel as the rest of the events in the game unfold.
You’ll get many opportunities to bond with Trico, as most of the games challenges are centered around figuring out how to get Trico and yourself from point A to point B – usually more Trico than yourself as he is huge in nature. The puzzles involved in figuring this out aren’t overly complex but good enough that they will keep you engaged.
Now here come the problems: The games controls.
The boy is easy enough to control, he’s a human that moves from point A to point B with the swing of your controller stick. While admittedly awkward in his approach to things – as he is a young child with no real strength, and often stumbles when moving – he is easy enough to understand. No, the problem lies with Trico himself.
He actually act’s like a damn cat.
I don’t mean that in a loving way – where the cat is overly affectionate and shares his love of you and comes when you calls. But rather, Trico might not move at all when you call for him. Whether that’s because he’s hungry or he just refuses to listen to your commands it doesn’t matter, the result is the same – you standing their without your partner in hand. Let it be said that without Trico, you actually just can’t progress in the story at all. You need him to progress throughout the story, mainly the puzzle sections. I’ll repeat it again for those of you who don’t believe it, while the controls to Trico may be easy to understand, this cat-bird pet might just ignore your call’s for help.
As you can never take direct control of Trico, and instead depend on a simple series of point commands that equate to – ‘over there’ or ‘jump to that’ – it’s easy to get frustrated with your partner. So much like any real pet you have to wait out any rebellious phase your pet may be having. As you can’t exactly tell him he’s been a bad dog.
Whether that will be a few moments – or more than a few minutes – seems to be random in nature. This leaves for a realistic, if not annoying gameplay for players. I feel that the developers SIE Japan Studio were really trying to make it feel as a unique as game as possible, but I didn’t really enjoy this feature after the first few ignored calls – as sometimes I was in a rush and just wanted to complete one last puzzle before heading off to bed or work.
This frustration aside, the rest of the games mechanics are easy to understand – from how to control the slightly annoying camera angle’s in caves – to how too target your enemies with your shield for Trico to strike down. Also – it was still a lot of fun. As any person who has played Shadow of Colossus will tell you, the game suprisingly just connects with you. In this case you get attached to Trico and by the end feel like he’s your family.
The game is still something I say gamers should pick up – its beautiful, it’s short, and it’s one of those games that make you feel like your invested in the story and rather saddened by it’s end. Despite it’s glaring problem in the control of Trico, and the slight annoyance of camera controls when in enclosed areas, the game is a blast to play through and at least deserves one good run through. If only just to feel like your in a children’s fairy tale for a little while.
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