I received The Last Guardian as a preorder for my birthday. It was actually the reason we bought a PS4. As a parent and a mom, I do not go out and buy every game or console when it first comes out. Some yes, but most of the time I wait for the cost to come down and, when it comes to consoles, the selection of games to be bought as used copies to be large. As it happens, there was a good deal on the PS4 for Black Friday so we grabbed it.
Like most people who had played and loved Ico/Shadow of the Colossus, I had been waiting for this game. It kept getting pushed back, but we were patient. And I can say it was worth the wait. This is a linear companion game, so don’t expect it to be expansive or long or full of mindless level grinding. Instead you will find this game to be beautiful, challenging, compelling, and bonding. You wake up as a boy trapped in a cave with a chained beast, known as a Trico. You free him and he creates a path forward out of the cave and eventually out of the valley you are both stuck in. You must win his trust, and for all of his size, he is afraid of you. More accurately, he is afraid of the master of the valley and it’s minions, whom to his eyes you resemble at first. You will have to find a way to defeat what scares him and in return he will defeat the enemies who try to harm you. As you gain his trust you will be able to call him, direct him, and encourage him. The game’s beautiful art is highlighted in marvelous scenes you are rewarded with each time you gain more of Trico’s trust.
While the game is a visual puzzle, you will not be left without clues. The retelling of the boy’s story from his adult self will provide clues when you reach a new area if you wait long enough or seem unsure of what to do. Trico will also sometimes behave as if he is a cat and you are a a smaller and stupider cat, which can be hilarious. This acts as your second clue system. At one point Trico sat batting at a chain that I knew I need to do something with, I just hadn’t determined what yet. It was as if he was not only fascinated with playing with this thing, but also saying, “Hey! This. This is what you need. Yes. Over here. This thing. Don’t you see it? Hey!”
Still the best part of this story, and it’s a really good story, is the bond you create with Trico. You will learn why he is there, why he was chained, who brought you here and for what purpose. In the end you will both fight for each other, sacrifice for each other. When enemies appear, he will protect you. When he gets hurt, you will help him. When barriers appear, you will remove them. And then all to soon, you’re free. Please watch through the end of the credits. Keep watching even when it seems fully over. The last cut scene is so worth it. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until it started.
I hope the developers keep making many more games. These are the games we play for.