The first time I saw anything about The Last Guardian was the 2015 E3 trailer; and while I cannot say that I have been waiting years for this game like many others, I can say that I have been waiting anxiously for the game since that day. I am happy to say that the final release did not disappoint.
The whole game had a smooth flow, as load screens were kept to a bare minimum. After the title screen panned out into the opening cutscene, I was already enthralled. The way the game’s mechanics are taught are subtle and do not feel like a traditional tutorial. The narration is being done in a storytelling style by the boy’s older self and even that is wrapped up nicely at the end–just make sure you wait for that after credits end scene! Speaking of the end, the game was very short. I am not really one to power through games, but I got this on the Tuesday it was released and had it finished by that Thursday.
The story kind of dips out around the middle of the game when players are bombarded by puzzle after puzzle, but it definitely has some surprises and makes up for that towards the end. The puzzles were brilliant and for the most part pretty easy to figure out. Just about each level incorporated a new ability for you to learn, making the next more complex than the last. As an old school Tomb Raider fan, I was incredibly happy with the layout of the puzzles.
Trico was a masterpiece. Within the first five minutes of gameplay, I was totally enthralled with this creature. The bond between boy and beast happens quickly, but it grows noticeably stronger the farther one gets into the game. The mechanics of working with a creature like this in a game was very refreshing. Playing as the boy, players are severely limited in what he can do–he is a child after all. He is awkward; he trips running down stairs. He does not really know how to fight off the enemies by himself–which makes the enemies in this game way more intimidating (though after finishing up my play through with only five trophies, I found out there are other ways to interact with the enemies other than struggling–I will have to play it again!). Having to depend on an NPC character like this made the bond with Trico all the more strong, making the game an emotional experience all the way through.
Now, not everything in this game is praiseworthy. The controls were pretty bad compared to most modern games. Not bad enough to truly ruin it, but enough to kill my character multiple times because he was not responding to the commands I was trying to give. The swimming mechanics were absolutely awful. Thankfully, that was only a short portion of the game. The worst part of the controls though was definitely the control of the camera. I normally would be all over having free range of the camera, but it was more of an inconvenience than a help for portions of the game. In tight spots on Trico’s back, I just could not see anything but super up-close feathers–occasionally in those situations, the camera would be full of Trico butthole, which while amusing was not helpful.
Then there was one scene toward the end with a fixed camera angle, when I really could have used control of the camera. Only one scene! It was super aggravating and poorly designed in my opinion. Also this game was not lacking in glitchy, clunky graphics for something that has been in production for so long. Do not get me wrong, the scenery and attention to detail were beautiful, but it did lose a little of that luster when Trico’s head appeared to be mounted on the wall.
Overall, I think that The Last Guardian was beautiful, new, and refreshing. The bond between the boy and the Trico tugged at my heartstrings. Even though the controls and camera made the game a little unnecessarily frustrating at times, the story and relationship developed made up for the flaws. Additionally, I am the proud owner of the Collector’s Edition, which was far from disappointing. The sculpt on the figure is beautiful and the overall packaging of the game was appealing. Additionally, the soundtrack makes for wonderful casual listening. I will be replaying this again–which already says a great deal about the game as I rarely replay games.
The Last Guardian is available now on Playstation 4.