Review by Zell_Dintch69

Reviewed: 01/11/17

A game with heart

The Last Guardian finally arrives on the PS4, seven years after being announced for the PS3 back in 2009, and it was worth the wait.

The game's story is really simple: A boy wakes up in a strange place, with his body covered in tattoos and no memory of how he ended up there so he'll try and go back home. That's the gist of it and any more than that would be a spoiler. Like the games that came before, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian has an minimalistic approach to its storytelling, and much is left to the players imagination.

As far as gameplay goes, the The Last Guardian has a simple formula: You take control of the boy whose actions are as simple as jumping, crawling and interacting with objects. Early in the game you'll meet Trico, a giant bird-dog-cat creature, and by issuing commands and working with it you'll solve puzzles that allow the duo to advance to the next area where the cycle of looking for an exit, figuring out how to reach it and taking Trico with you repeats. This usually means finding levers to pull, chains to climb, small holes to enter and doors to open.

Enemies will show up at some point, in the form of armored soldiers. They'll grab the boy and try to take him to a door, leading to a Game Over. Aside from throwing some objects and stunning them there's not much the player can do about the armors, Trico is the only one who can surely defeat them, so most of the encounters are a matter of a more urgent puzzle, solving it allows Trico into the room so it can wreck your way out.

Simple enough it seems, problem is Trico don't always listens to the player, not at first at least. For the first couple of hours The beast will take time to respond and obey the commands, which may lead to some frustration, specially when combined with the wonky camera and dated control schemes.
You'll find yourself trying to position Trico in right place while fighting the camera and having no idea how to climb down its back. Add the fact that some of the puzzles are more trial and error than real puzzles and you have a rough start to the game.

This leads to the game's highest merit however: the amazing bond the boy (and the player) will experience with the beast. The more you play, the more you understand Trico, its body language, its facial expressions, what it can and cannot do. And more will Trico understand the player, quickly following commands, almost as if the player has direct control over it.

The resulting feeling cannot be described as anything but complicity. As the boy and the beast work together to get past obstacles a true sensation of companionship arises, one I dare say was never before achieved in a video game.

When it comes to presentation The Last Guardian is hit or miss, some areas look amazing while others look almost like a PS3 game, the boy looks good at best but his movements are incredibly well animated, every stumble and step is full of life and real inertia.

Trico is the real star however, sometimes it moves like a dog, and sometimes it moves like a cat, when it's agitated the feathers in his body will puff up, when hurt or scared it'll cower, sometimes it'll just reach behind its ear for a scratch, give it enough time and it'll start rubbing its head on the boy, asking to be petted. Even when just standing still, the wind will ruffle the creature's feathers for a beautiful effect, and its eyes are full of life, giving it a soul, much more than any human character I've ever seen in a game.

In the end, The Last Guardian may not be a perfect game, but it provides an experience hard to find in other games, and impossible to find in other forms of media. If you ever have the chance to meet Trico, go for it.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: The Last Guardian (US, 12/06/16)

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