Fumito Ueda and his team have just been waiting for technology to catch up. The Last Guardian may have taken just under a decade to release, but this isn't a title that's been trapped in development hell, clawing at the broken brains of its creators to get out. The game, available on the PlayStation 4 this week, instead merely realises the vision of the very first trailer that released all the way back in 2009.
This is a title that is so rigidly obsessed with its own creative direction that it feels practically unlike anything else. There are comparisons that can be made to Team ICO's historical output: the bloom lighting and intricately detailed architecture is straight out of ICO; the inclusion of a giant mythical monster which must be climbed upon is unmistakedly from Shadow of the Colossus. But the title does away with any other convention: there are no tutorials or hints; jump is bizarrely mapped to the triangle button.
And while some may feel frustrated by the game's occasionally cumbersome disregard for industry standards, we'd actually argue that it's all the better for it. In a medium swamped with cookie-cutter experiences, The Last Guardian is something all-new. And at the heart of that original experience is the bond between boy and beast – the central creative theme upon which the entire adventure is so lovingly assembled.
Right from the beginning, the game makes you appreciate the difference between these two central characters. The boy is industrious, but he's also diminutive and weak; the beast is frightening but also frightened – a heartbreaking contrast. And the game, ultimately, is about how the relationship between these two protagonists develops. At first the bird is contrary, but over time, you'll learn ways of controlling it through cat calls.
It's no exaggeration to say that it's all expertly executed. There are some camera issues that can be problematic in smaller spaces, but the way that the title makes you care for your feral companion is unlike anything we've ever experienced before. Much of the success can be attributed to the animation, which is gob-stoppingly beautiful and injects each character with more personality than practically every other video game protagonist combined.
But the actual gameplay itself, which takes the form of a puzzle platformer, aids with this sense of camaraderie. Puzzles are of the switch flipping, chain climbing kind – but introducing the enormous Trico (which the animal is named) into the mix augments a little originality. Sometimes you'll need to convince him to lean up walls so that you can reach higher places, for example, while on other occasions you may need to smash mirrors or certain iconography to calm him down.
The release is at its absolute breath-taking best, though, when the odds are stacked against you. One sequence sees you sprinting around a cylindrical staircase, desperately trying to drop a drawbridge, as Trico stands stranded atop a column being attacked by the spears of the ethereal enemies who inhabit the game's castle-like world. It's really white-knuckle stuff, as you dash across pillars and platforms attempting to protect your pet from the deadly abuse that he's receiving.
And the level design's equally wondrous. Much like in ICO and more recently the Dark Souls games, Fumito Ueda wants to constantly tease you about what's to come. You'll see structures and areas in the far-off distance, only to stumble upon them hours and hours later. The world, for as fantastical as it can be, feels real and believably assembled. And while it may not be the best looking PS4 game to date, make no mistake: this could not have run on the PlayStation 3.
All in all, The Last Guardian is something quite exceptional. Mechanically, it's imperfect: the controls can be somewhat cumbersome and the camera is problematic in close quarters. But these issues almost melt into insignificance when you consider that this is a game so creatively dense, so cleverly put-together that it will stand the test of time for years to come. It's taken a long time, but The Last Guardian has been more than worth the wait.
Are you excited to play The Last Guardian this week? Have you been waiting patiently for this title since it was revealed almost a decade ago? Roar in the comments section below.
I want to apologise to you all that this isn't a review. I received The Last Guardian review code with ample time to finish it and get this written, but I've been very ill these past few weeks.
Unfortunately, part of being ill affected my eyesight, and I was virtually unable to see for several days. This prevented me from playing what has been one of my most anticipated games for the past decade or so, which was a bit of a double whammy.
I have made lots of progress in the game but haven't finished it yet, and will publish a review later this week. For now, feel free to ask me any questions you have about the title, and I'll do my best to answer them.
Get better Sammy! Looking forward to this. It's getting middle-of-the-road reviews as far as your usual AAA holiday releases go, but the knocks (camera and controls) seem to be the same ones that could be levied at ICO and SotC, so I don't think they'll bug me that much.
@get2sammyb 2 questions 1) are you feeling better? 2) does the game fall in between its predecesors? (meaning its focus on exploration like ICO and Shadow of the colosuss with the combat)
Dont apologise..! Would always rather wait for an informed review than get a rush job of a review just for the sake of keeping up with the other sites / mags. Get well soon mate.
@get2sammyb Sounds like a nightmare, hope you are feeling better now! Glad to see you are enjoying the game. I think many of us wanted some reassurance it isn't a mess due to the long delay.
Feel better @get2sammyb, thanks for the brilliant preview
@get2sammyb Hope you're doing ok Sammy, and I'm glad to hear that The Last Guardian is worth the wait! Here's hoping the game isn't spoiled for me between now and Christmas!
Thanks for all the comments about my health! I'm absolutely fine, was just frustrating that I couldn't really play the game!
@TeslaChippie I haven't really read the other reviews properly yet, but I expected it to get dinged for some mechanical issues. I'm not sure they're going to deter me from scoring this very strongly, however.
@AlejandroMora Yes, I think it's a good blend of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. I feel it's slightly more ICO than SotC, but you can feel the influences of both.
Oh man Sorry to hear thatn hope you get well soon!!! Thank you for the impressions as its encouraging me that thia game is what we've come to expect and love about Team Ico projects. I Cant wait to play this (in between XV)
Take Care Sammy!
Get better soon Sammy! Glad to hear you're enjoying the game and look forward to reading your full review when it's ready! I'm kinda skimming the reviews at the moment as I don't want to get too much detail about how it all works, just want to get an overall impression of how well it's turned out. Safe to say that I really, really can't wait for Friday. Loving FFXV at the moment but it's going to have to take a back seat, methinks.
@JoeBlogs PS4 Pro.
@get2sammyb Hope you're feeling better Sammy. No need to apologise.
As much as I respect reviews, there's nothing anyone can say that will prevent me from playing this Day 1.
Sorry FFXV, time to take a backseat.
Not at all interested in scores for games but I do read reviews occasionally(mostly on here)...just been and read the ign review of last guardian and its horrible,a very poorly written review
Been waiting on this since I first saw footage of it in the Ico and Colossus collection five years ago. Im super excited and this write-up made me even more so! Tomorrow needs to hurry up!
@get2sammyb I hope you get better soon sammy, take your time reviewing this game.
Since the general review seems good, I think I'll buy the special edition (there's version with just steelcase, no statue, yay) for this game
@teknium_ Ign usually give harsh review on playstation exclusive, they just not the same after greg miller & friends leave from ign.
Oh boy...is this my final game of 2016? I think it is! Nice to see this doing well, hope we get a Shadow of Colossus 2 now xD
Anyway, guys I asked this on other topic and I now ask you guys here. I want to change the PS4 HDD, can anyone suggest a 2TB disk worth the buy and that I can easily change to my PS4?
@dryrain any suggestion?
I hope the game gets patched after release. DF has released a video demonstrating the extremely uneven framerate of this game on the base PS4 and the Pro at 4K. The game's framerate is uneven and appears to frequently dip into the low twenties.
@Ralizah i think there is going to be lots of issues with ps4 pro on 4k, Look at gaming pc that struggle. Main issue is this game kept changing the console it was developed for. Especially adding in it was supposed to be released on the doomed Cell cpu ps3.
@get2sammyb get better soon Sammy my main concern is the AI read a few issues with Trico. I remember Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom I wanted to take that bloody walking rock to the deepest ocean trench & push him overboard. Now I have 3 1/2 & 1 1/2 little ones. I have enough trying get the to do anything without beating my head against a brick wall. So when I get to play a game last thing I want is the same.
@Anguspuss Oh well. At least it's finally seeing the light of day. I just hope there's some post-launch support to stabilize the framerate. Witcher 3 was pretty rough on PS4 at launch as well, but over time CD Projekt Red stabilized the performance with patches.
@Anguspuss The catbird is definitely contrary, particularly at the start. It's a design decision, but I can see how it would frustrate some people. You just gotta treat it like a real animal, innit.
I have a real pedigree Somali cat that is a posh fussy cat. & a wife & a daughter Sammy Im all ready frustrated trying to get anywhere with them.
i can't think of a 3rd person game where i don't find issues with the camera, so hopefully the issues in this game are just typical of the perspective. regardless of reviews, still getting it on friday (or whenever my order arrives).
@leucocyte I think they're probably a bit worse than usual in this game.
I have this in my PS4 and PS4 pro. You can take it out of the enclosure and install it in around five to ten minutes using guitar picks or a credit card. It's cheaper to buy external HDDs for some odd reason.
@Constable_What you're the real MVP xD
@Constable_What Btw for how long have you been using this disk? Never had any trouble?
Lol @get2sammyB ....
Now that's a true gamer lol. Guy is going blind in both eyes, and his only regret is that he couldn't play the latest hyped video game release 😃
I have my doubts. I hated the camera in Colossus so not sure if this will be the same.
Sorry to hear that Sammy, hope you are on the road to recovery. I have been on the fence about the look and game play of this one but I do love a strong emotional core and journey.
I waited 10 years so I can wait other 10 weeks to see if they fix the FPS on regular PS4 with a second patch (there's already a 1 GB patch to download) playing NMS.
Its currently out of stock on Amazon. One of my friends decided he wanted to buy the game but on the site it states will ship usually between 1-2 months.
@AFCC Happy to help! I've been using the one in my Launch PS4 for about two years now, and haven't had any problems with it at all. I haven't noticed any difference in loading times or anything like that either of course it's been a while since I replaced HDDs (I replaced the Pro's HDD right out of the box) . It's just more storage.
@Constable_What Ok mate! Thanks very much...will buy it soon!
@Constable_What Hey dude! Do you need to format the HDD before you take it off the casing your do you simply take it off and put it in the PS4?
@AFCC You don't need to format the HDD, but you do need to download the latest firmware you can do that from this link: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/support/system-updates/ps4/#newinstallation
I hope this helps!
@Constable_What thank you very much! I am now ordering from the link you gave me
@AFCC No problem, man. I know how irritating it is to have so many games and only 500GB of hard drive space. PS community looks out for each other so pay it forward!
@Constable_What As of this time I only have 6 games installed and I can't install more -.-
@AFCC Whoa... I don't remember me being that strapped for space! This will be a noticeable improvement for you. I mean that's like 24 games... I'm kidding it'll be a few more.
@Constable_What xD 24 games!
I have like COD, Dishonored 2, FF XV, DOOM, Stories and Overwatch...
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