It has been a long, long, long wait for The Last Guardian to be released. It was first announced back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 and was planned for release in 2011 initially.
That initial release expectation didn’t happen, but finally this week the game is available to play on the PlayStation 4.
Of course, after all of that time you may be wondering how the game turned out and if it met its original expectations, thankfully, a number of reviews have already been released for the game and we have rounded all of those reviews up for you in the following article.
Check them out below.
We’re calling it now – The Last Guardian is likely to be one of the most divisive games of the year.
You can absolutely see why the game has been in development for as long as it has. But it all feels as though just six months more in the oven would be enough to perfect it. And, if we had to guess, we’d say that it’s probably felt this way for the last few years of its development.
When the game comes together, it feels like a masterpiece, combining the best of both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus into an experience that you’ll be unable to forget anytime soon.
The elegant mechanics of The Last Guardian’s puzzles (which, in contrast the the vast majority of games, do not have the whiff of designer’s contrivance) are of secondary importance to the game’s emotional life. That Trico is an abuse survivor is made explicit. The creature wears his wounds unashamedly: black streak lines stain his nose beneath the eyes, while crimson stains appear on his feathers with every newly sunk and plucked spear. He recoils from stained glass ornaments to which terrible memories are clearly attached. This is a game, as much as anything, about rehabilitation through kindness and companionship, its emotional impact compounded by tasteful, infrequent bursts of Takeshi Furukawa’s rich orchestral soundtrack.
The resulting shift to PlayStation 4 has obviously paid off–troubled moments aside, your journey is dominated by awe-inspiring architecture and natural wonder. As you weave in and out of caves and ruins, you’re treated to wide views of towers and bridges in the distance that you may never visit, but they live on in your imagination as you piece together the story and world around you.
It isn’t clear whether or not The Last Guardian means to be frustrating at times–if it’s a concerted effort to test your patience for a lovable-yet-stubborn creature. Your affection for Trico and sympathy for both characters blossom nonetheless, culminating in an enrapturing series of revelations that cements your attachment to their personalities. Trico is the undeniable star of the show, exhibiting believable physicality and emotional range, but the boy is a valuable lesson in how to be patient and resilient when faced with unforeseen challenges.
How I wish that more of The Last Guardian could have lived up to its own spectacle. The easy shorthand that many have used is that it feels like a PlayStation 2 game — I even said so myself a few months ago — but the reality is more complicated than that. In its best moments, The Last Guardian pulls off feats that could only be done on modern hardware; at its weakest, it’s not just “like a PlayStation 2 game,” but like a particularly rough, unpolished PlayStation 2 game, one that recalls the legacy of its forebears, but can’t quite recreate it.
In the moments I was cursing Trico’s stubbornness or rolling my eyes at another closed gate, I was disappointed in The Last Guardian. Maybe these problems are related to the game’s long development, but even if that’s true, I can’t say that the extended wait was altogether bad. All that time resulted in a polished emotional core that redeems the experience, because ultimately The Last Guardian isn’t about pulling switches or leaping over gaps. It’s about your smile when you see Trico doing something silly, your compassion when you watch it struggle, and your relief when the creature shows up at just the right time. That’s what you get here that you can’t find anywhere else, and it is enough to make The Last Guardian worth playing.
Considering development began in 2007, that means Team Ico has spent nine years creating The Last Guardian. Normally a development cycle that long might indicate sweeping changes made to the game between its debut and release, but not here. What we saw in 2009 is essentially what we’ve gotten in 2016.
A wonder of animation and AI smoke-and-mirrors, the beast in The Last Guardian is primarily a masterpiece of observation.
Built around such an astonishing central relationship, The Last Guardian’s handful of annoyances don’t seem terribly annoying anymore. It can occasionally grate to deal with the game’s wayward camera in tight spaces – or sometimes in not-tight places. The designers like certain sequences so much that they find an excuse to recreate them a few too many times. The lengthy campaign’s final third is a little drawn out and sees a sudden over-reliance on combat that threatens to bring the frame-rate, which is never that great at the best of times, down to single figures. Then there are bugs, annoying graphical glitches like the boy’s tendency to get stuck running on the spot, or a checkpoint-restarting moment in which the beast suddenly found itself walking on water rather than diving beneath it. I’ll forgive all of that to spend time with a game that makes me think about so many interesting things so regularly.