The long awaited release of The Last Guardian is here, but did it meet the hype?
I have personally been following and waiting for the release of The Last Guardian since it was announced almost a decade ago. I almost seemed unreal when I was able to finally get my hands on the game and fire it up for the first time. What came next was an exciting, touching, but sometimes frustrating adventure.
From the moment you are tossed into the game you are taught the controls as you begin the story. You start with a few available, then learn more until you have the full set at your disposal as you progress. Controlling the boy is easy and running, climbing, and even walking on narrow ropes is easy. Edges of cliffs and other drops are forgiving (thankfully) as well.
The two main complaints with the game come from two things generally, and those are the climbing and the camera. In my playthrough the climbing was never an issue. Climbing on walls or obstacles was easy especially if you played any other game where you climb in 3D space such as Assassin’s Creed. Some areas require you to climb on moss which was very simple.
Climbing on Trico, your companion, is the most challenging, but as long as you think about where the boy is on Trico you won’t have any problems figuring out what direction to push the stick. The only time I got frustrated with it was when I would find myself stuck under Trico’s wing or when he would be flailing around wildly. This was aggravated when combined with camera issues.
The camera was the biggest issue I faced in the game. In the very first few minutes I took some time to adjust the camera speed and inversion after finding it sluggish and odd feeling. After that I had no problems moving the camera when I wanted to. The frustration came when the camera would randomly reset to a completely different position or would seemingly lock onto something I wasn’t trying to look at.
If you are climbing on Trico in a closed space it also becomes almost impossible because the camera begins to move wildly. You’re better off just jumping off and moving to a more open space if you can before trying to climb back on.
I can understand the developer’s issues when facing the design of the camera mechanic. They needed to give you the freedom to look around so you could solve puzzles, but also needed to make it so that they would restrict it in some situations too. I feel that when the dev team was making the decisions about how to design the camera there were some tradeoffs. In all, the camera works well much of the time, but when it doesn’t it is really hard to deal with.
Most of the game is solving puzzles. There were no puzzles that were impossible to solve after some thought and looking around (and praying for cooperation from Trico). The design team did a great job of helping to make things easier for you by shining light on places you needed to go next or placing runs on places you need to climb.
Combat does happen, but Trico does most of your fighting for you. You can also participate to an extent, but Trico does the heavy lifting here. There are some times where you will have to engage with the enemy, but only a couple times.
The game drops you into this mystery fantasy world with little explanation. This game felt like the past hit game Journey. Although there is some narration most of the story background comes from a few cinematics you are shown through the game.
As you progress through the puzzles the bond between Trico and the boy becomes more apparent and more important as they rely on each other for survival. It really is the story of a boy and the dog he found in the broadest sense. By the end of the game you will feel for Trico as you help him survive threats from puzzles and other enemies.
The ending of the game brought things full circle. Be sure to stay after the credits for a little extra too. I was left with lots of questions about this world I had just explored for the last 12 hours that were not answered anywhere. I kept feeling like I did when I played Journey for the first time. Where you get very little dialogue and explanation, but by the time the game ends you feel an emotional attachment to the characters involved. I have so many questions about this world, but even my naturally inquisitive side was accepting of the story as a whole and not knowing everything.
Sights and Sounds
The game is beautiful. Trico and the rest of the world are all designed and rendered wonderfully, though the boy still felt like he was out of place the entire game because of his contrasting art style. I thought this might be because of some story reason, but that wasn’t the case. I was left wondering why the boy wasn’t more incorporated into the game’s art style. A lot of praise needs to be given to the artists and designers of Trico. The beast’s personality shines through eyes that convey emotions as well as wonderfully animated movements.
The game offers up stunning views as well. From dimly lit corridors to wide open grassy areas these are all created with extensive detail. There are some points in the game where you find yourself looking at beautiful sunsets or sunrises with awe. While stunning, some of these outdoor areas can also be taxing on your rig. Our standard PS4 had obvious and substantial framerate loss almost every time I was in a large outdoor area.
The sounds of the game great at keeping you in the moment. The game relies mostly on ambient sounds of you and Trico walking around. Trico can often be heard sniffing at objects or howling at you when you get too far away. Music appears during combat or in important parts of the story adding to the excitement and making it especially noticeable during those moments. The sound design of the game does a great job at sucking you into the game and the environment you are exploring.
The Last Guardian does a lot of things right. It gives you an interesting story that urges you on to learn and explore more of the game. It also gives you a visually beautifully game that provides some of the most picturesque sights in any game you will play. On the other hand, when things go wrong, they are extremely frustrating. Camera issues can become extremely annoying during some moments of the game when you really need to see what you are doing. Trico can be frustrating when commands go ignored or when he inadvertently causes your death.
The game is still a wonderful creation, and I am thankful to finally be playing it. I was engaged and excited. There were moments where my heart would swell with love for my companion, and times when it would shatter. The game overall is a wonderful ride and even though it can get a little bumpy at times, it still delivers a great experience. Did it live up to the hype… pretty much.
Did you buy The Last Guardian? Did you think it lived up to the hype or not? Let us know in the comments!