The Last Guardian is original, gorgeous to look at, a bit repetitive and pokes you in the feelings.
Emotional depth is the stand-out feature of this game, which has at its beating heart the relationship between a small lost boy and a giant, flying feathered creature named Trico.
The Last Guardian wants you to care about its characters and it succeeds. Sony’s Japan Studio have recreated that bond between a boy and his dog. Call Of Duty this game ain’t. It’s slow gaming.
You navigate a cloud-capped complex of crumbling old towers, dark chambers and rooms pulsating with luminous energy conducted by mysterious technology. The environment is stunning. It’s nice to just linger among the towering, plunging ruins while flocks of birds fly by far below. Graphics are unfussily effective, right down to the rendering of Trico’s feathers, which flutter in sunlight in a way that’s god-darn poetical.
In this fantasy adventure game, teamwork is essential: you can’t get anywhere without your big beastie companion. You must feed Trico and pull spears out of its body when it’s hurt. The gameplay isn’t varied; it basically adds up to pulling levers and lots of platform jumping. Some people might even call it dull: there’s no boss battles, no weaponry to speak of and you do spend a bit too long trying and failing to get Trico to follow commands. Occasionally you must battle castle guards which are nothing but possessed suits of armour full of blue smoke.
It’s a sign of how well the developers succeed in creating a bond between the player and the characters that I caught myself cheering when Trico survives one particular moment of jeopardy. It’s the first time I’ve responded like that to a game. I couldn’t pull out the spears out of the poor thing’s bleeding body fast enough.
My personal experience of gaming’s Landscape of the Passions is that it’s not a lush place. It’s normally a visceral hell-scape with just a single fuming volcano spewing out raging fury, feverish glee and nothing else. The Last Guardian is very different. It’s a meditation on companionship and is well worth a look.
In the computer game Prince of Persia – the first, ‘classic’ version – you have one hour to complete the levels and rescue the Princess. Turns out that I needed a bit longer to complete this quest; around 23 years longer to be precise.
What a great game it still is: elegantly designed and dead hard, unforgiving and rewarding at the same time. Yes, it looks basic but it’s – like – deep man. Gameplay features like the leaps of faith off one side of the screen in to the unknown were so novel; completing one made me feel genuinely bold.
Years later. my fondness for PoP led me to buying a PlayStation 2 for the sole reason that PoP Sands of Time came bundled with the console.
How times change from that Game Boy version I first played as 10 year old: this week I competed classic PoP on an iPad mini, it has touch screen controls and 3D graphics. When the power-mad Jaffar lay dead – vanquished by my furious bashing and mashing of the screen – I felt genuine satisfaction at laying another thing to rest.
Not completing Classic PoP irked me down the years and finally doing it this week was cathartic. Straight afterwards I purchased PoP 2, but its not the same: my appetite is gone.
The reason why it’s taken nearly a quarter of a century to save the Princess lies in a unequal swap I made in primary school with a very strange girl who never returned my PoP game and left me stuck with the Addams Family game.
It was total cack, I recall.