The Last Guardian Review
The Last Guardian on Playstation 4 will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, something not easily done in today’s video game marketplace. Through a touching story, you will see the backstory of our heroic protagonist, and his animal friend, Trico. Even during the most frustrating of circumstances, I moved ahead with my adventure to find out more. Despite all the lows, The Last Guardian still comes out on top as a must play game this holiday season.
Investing in the Story
It is almost impossible to NOT invest in the story of The Last Guardian. From the outset, when you first free the strange, but likeable character Trico, a noticeable bond is created that will ultimately push you through the game. The simple task of dislodging two spears from Trico’s back within the first 10 minutes is going to grab you, hard. You will see the anguish of Trico, the anger of Trico, and the love of Trico. For a video game, it is surprisingly powerful.
The story itself isn’t that surprising, however, as the game was directed by Fumito Ueda, who also directed Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. All these games put a great emphasis on sacrificial love and companionship, although these themes are much more pronounced in The Last Guardian than the other two great titles.
I felt compelled to finish the game through every minutes of my 14 hour play through, and the final quarter of the story was worth all the work – sometimes frustrating work – I had put into this title. As a story driven title, I won’t expand on it any further here – rest assured that any problems with the game stem from gameplay, and not how the game unfolds.
Oustandingly Beautiful, Shockingly Bland
When you play through The Last Guardian, one thing will quickly come to mind – did two separate artistic teams work on this title? The outdoor environments in this game are outstanding, both in design and layout, but also in artistic appeal. It looks gorgeous, and makes it fun to play.
However, once you move into the interior spaces, they are not always as impressive. Even the more detailed interiors with different types of vegetation and stone, and sometimes even buildings or rooms, just don’t have the same appeal as the outdoor locations. Perhaps it is done on purpose. When inside, I felt confined, sad, and somewhat depressed, a feeling that probably would have swept up both our characters as well.
The indoor spaces do highlight a fairly large issue with this game – the camera. When you find yourself in tight spaces – whether passages or small openings – the camera will quickly become your enemy as you attempt to swing it around to see what your next move should be. At points, the camera would begin moving all on it’s own, causing me to frustratingly attempt to move my character out of the current space he occupied so I could get control of the camera back.
The fact that this happens is very unfortunate, as it can quickly pull you out of the immersive experience the developers are hoping to create. The other problem that pulls you from the events of the game are trying to get Trico to do what you want him to do. While it does create a sense of realism – how quickly can you really train a wild beast to listen to your commands – it also becomes frustrating. Even when calling out to Trico and doing a little dance to direct him, he often wouldn’t listen, or would take too long to accomplish his goal. It often left me wondering whether I was doing what I was suppose to be doing.
Always Moving You Forward
Even during the hardest and most frustrating of circumstances, the game does a fairly good job of moving you along, and the narrator – which appears to be the voice of the boy, but all grown up looking back on his experience – directing you to where you need to go. It’s helpful, but not overly forceful in how it guides you. In my opinion, it strikes a perfect balance between keeping you moving while not making the title too easily. You will need to sort out some puzzles for yourself, but thankfully when you do get stuck, there is someone to help you along.
It (mostly) all works. The lows are very low, unfortunately, but when you waltz into the final two hours of the story, everything you enjoyed and everything you struggled through becomes so incredibly worth it. Every puzzle, every frustrating moment with Trico…it all comes together at the end to cap off a wonderful experience.
So often in games, we remark on how well the gameplay is, how great the environments are, but how poorly the storyline is executed. A poor story can ruin any game, no matter how great everything else is. For what it’s worth, The Last Guardian is one of the best stories I’ve played through in recent memory because of how much it gripes every fibre of your being.
If you own a PS4 and love story driven titles, grab The Last Guardian this holiday season. You won’t be disappointed.