The Last Guardian is finally here. Riding on the coattails of the niche-hit titles ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian had a reputation to live up to. Does this latest adventure from SIE Japan Studio live up to the hype surrounding it?
The game was first announced at E3 way back in 2009 and the initial planned release date was going to be in 2011 on the PlayStation 3, but the game suffered one delay after another for various reasons, the development team citing the difficult PS3 platform which many studios disliked through its time. In time, the team switched their plans to bring the game to the PlayStation 4 system which all around more friendly.
If you haven’t played the previous games in the series, don’t worry. The Last Guardian carries its own story and while there are no real ties to previous adventures, the gameplay and overall design flow are heavily influenced by those PS2/PS3 (remastered) titles. At its core, this is a puzzle-adventure title. You’ll find virtually no combat, and no collection of random useless items. It’s all about figuring out the next step to freedom.
The game begins with your character, a young boy, who wakes up in a cave, covered in strange markings all over his skin. With you is a massive creature, similar to the Neverending Storys’ Luck Dragon, Falcor. Dubbed Trico, this creature will ultimately join you on your adventure to escape this strange area and maybe reach your home, wherever it is you came from. Trico plays a huge part in the game because without his help, you wouldn’t be able to progress to the points you need to reach. It’s the little things that make me smile during this adventure though. You may find yourself perplexed and unsure of what your next step is, but if you choose to pay attention and watch Trico, or maybe climb up on top of him, he could very well point you in the right direction.
Like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. The Last Guardian does suffer from some noticeable performance issues. Many people may have expected a perfectly smooth adventure, seeing as how the game was in development for nearly seven years, but I think those of us that really enjoyed the previous two games knew what to expect, and stuttering framerates aren’t really a surprise, or a problem. Aside from that, there is the occasional camera issue that makes it seem more difficult than it should be. I also had the infamous “An error has occurred….” where my game shuts down and brings me back to the dashboard, but this happens with every game. Despite its issues, and some weak textures scattered about, The Last Guardian really is a beautiful game and I haven’t regretted my time with it.
The story is told through subtitles as the character doesn’t speak a recognizable language, and the only time you hear him speak is to call his friend, Trico to join him. I think this actually makes the story more powerful though, and it creates more of a bond with the characters because you’re solely focused on them and their reactions throughout the game. If you’re looking for a story that’s worth absorbing, this is probably the best title of the year in that category. Accompanying the story is also a fantastic soundtrack, with some epic tracks to match the feel of the game itself. In fact, the review package from Sony also included a PSN code to get the soundtrack, so I’ve been enjoying that a bit as background music while I’m around the house.
The Last Guardian may not be a perfect title, but I do feel it’s exactly what many of us were hoping for when it was first announced. Every game has its issues, even those “Perfect 10” games, so we learn to look past those problems and judge it for everything it does offer. The Last Guardian offers a captivating story with lovable characters, a phenomenal soundtrack and a truly beautifully designed world that will surely be in your memories for years to come. SIE Japan Studio has once again captured my heart.
The Last Guardian truly excels in gameplay because that's it's main focus... progression. Fantastic puzzles and very intense platforming make it a unique experience.
The game has sort of a watercolor look in my eyes, and while it's beautiful, I also find it somewhat muddled looking at times.
As stated in the review, the soundtrack is definitely one of the strongest points of the game with subtle background tracks to intense pieces to keep you on the edge of your seat.