These technical indiscretions are initially unmissable, yet eventually dissipate, drowned out by The Last Guardian ’s heart and ambition. This is a singular game about trust and companionship, an almost wordless symphony of bonding as you, as a young boy, form an extraordinary relationship with a great beast the size of a building. While it shares thematic and aesthetic similarities with Ueda’s other works, you will not have played anything like it. And quite possibly never will again.
The Last Guardian Story
The boy wakes in a moss-wreathed cave next to the weakened Trico, a giant beast that is part-bird, part-mammal. Trico is wheezing and injured, his horns sheared and spears protruding from his back. The first task sets the tone, as you gently clamber over Trico’s feathered back and yank the spears from his flesh, feeding him barrels (filled with his favourite snack) to nurse him back to health. Trico is unsure, snapping and bellowing a monstrous shriek if you get too close.
This preliminary come upon builds empathy with both boy and beast. you are a gangly aspect, stumbling and scrambling over crumbled ruins. Trico, meanwhile, is a charming creature. His hybrid nature must make him appear bizarre and fantastical, but his animation and behaviour build an affectingly believable animal whole along with his very own quirks and mores. He shivers and ponders the boy quizzically, scratching at his massive ears and sitting down in a posture with a purpose to be acquainted to any cat or dog owner. His clawed toes patter as he shuffles himself round, he walks with a languid, clumsy lope and bats at things that hobby him. he’s a treasure earlier than you even spark off.
As the tentative relationship blossoms, Trico continues to surprise. At its mechanical core, The Last Guardian is a game of elaborate room escape, figuring out how to leave your immediate surroundings by combining the boy’s sleight nimbleness and Trico’s size and strength. It is never as modular or contained as that; the game’s designers are too clever, its splendid world of crumbled temples and lost civilization too well crafted. There no levels or seams as you explore, just a mystical sense of place, squirreling through tight chambers or scampering across bridges that hang over a vast green valley. One minute you will be figuring out how to open the rusted drawbridges of crumbling palaces, the next diving deep into a flooded catacomb clinging on to Trico’s feathers.
That relationship is the nucleus everything The Last Guardian is built upon, from the mechanics to the narrative. Trico is often a piece of the puzzle, you clambering up his back to reach higher platforms, or coaxing him into whacking contraptions or bashing in doors.
‘Coax’ is a good word. If you could just order Trico around like a tool, The Last Guardian would not be nearly as effective. Instead you must build trust with an autonomous animal, finding the beast food when he gets hungry, keeping him healthy and finally finding a way to communicate. At the beginning there is no way of ordering Trico about at all, aside from yelling his name; instead he will do what he feels like. Whether that’s leaping over walls to get to where you need to go, batting a chain as a cat would a ribbon, or simply sitting down and scratching behind his enormous ears.
It is a remarkable thing. And done with no little boldness. To place a player at the whims of an imaginary beast is opening a door to frustration. Sometimes Trico will simply not do what you want him to, leaving you to wait for him to prowl around until he decides to move on. Occassionally you are left wondering if this is indeed emergent behaviour or the AI failing to catch up, but the effect is largely the same: Trico feels like a living creature.
As the game progresses, you find a way to communicate, the boy delightfully stamping his feet and pointing in a direction, or acting out a jump as an order to go higher. Yet still don’t expect Trico to bend to your whim, he will often stop and try to take it in, looking at you with glossy black eyes while figuring out what you’re trying say. Occassionally it can be frustrating, but when Trico makes that jump or grabs that lever after a few minutes of frantic yelling and pointing, there is an errant thrill that must greet any beleagured dog trainer. And the more the trust between the two builds, the more Trico acqueisces. In a sense it is unlocking and improving skills like you would in any video game, but it is done beautifully, invisibly, a natural progression of the relationship between the two.
And the pair become indebted to each other. Take ‘combat’, for want of a better word. Occassionally patrolling these ruins are ghostly suits of armour, which stomp in and pick up the boy and try to carry him away. The boy can wriggle free with enough button-mashing, but relies on Trico to wallop the ghostly knights away. For your part, you must clamber on his back, removing spears and soothing him with a gentle stroke at the end of a battle to calm his nerves.
The Last Guardian companion book coming
In addition to offering artwork from the development process, An Extraordinary Story will function as something of an explanatory strategy guide. It will contain a “visual walkthrough” that touches on the subtle (and perhaps not-so-subtle) ways in which The Last Guardian hints at its story.
While there’s plenty to unpack from the game itself, we’re hoping that An Extraordinary Story will provide further details on the protracted development of The Last Guardian. Fumito Ueda and Team Ico, the studio behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, began working on The Last Guardian in 2007; Sony announced it at E3 2009 as a PlayStation 3 title. Over the years following its unveiling, the game’s long absence from the public eye led fans to believe it was vaporware. Instead, it resurfaced as a PlayStation 4 game at E3 2015, and was finally released on that console two weeks ago.
The Last Guardian Ps 4 – The Last Guardian gameplay
Facing unknown dangers in a strange and mystical land, an ordinary young boy and his gigantic feathered friend must rely on each other to survive in this harrowing story of friendship and trust.
“The only option available to PlayStation gamers in getting a regularly smooth 30 fps is to use PlayStation 4 Pro, running at 1080p,” according to Digital Foundry. The video shows that the game dips to the mid-20s on a PS4 Pro running in 4K with some regularity. On the original PS4, The Last Guardian’s frame rate often hangs around the low-20s.
Some have found that playing The Last Guardian on the OG PS4 can result in even larger frame rate dips. The video below, from PlayStation Universe, shows the game crawling along at under 10 frames-per-second. The issue was only resolved by restarting the console entirely.
The Last Guardian trico
Reading Trico is as important as traversing the environment, looking into those doleful eyes which sometimes flash with colour when he is afraid or spots a barrel of chum. One recurring mechanic has Trico cowering at a certain glass artefact, and it is your job to separate and smash it to pieces, often by pushing it off a towering ledge as Trico peers up at you with a tender mixture of fear and concern. And as you do so, it paints a compelling picture of this world and the clearly traumatic conditioning the beast was under until he came to be in your care.
What a pleasure it is to find a video game with such warmth and fascination with companionship. And what a joy it is for it to be found in a game with such an elegant sense of exploration. Some of its technical quirks cannot be ignored -errant frame-rates and inept camerawork especially- and some may find Trico’s capriciousness anathema to seamless adventure. But that is also what makes him and The Last Guardian so remarkable. Things that any animal lover can relate to – it is beautiful, heartfelt, unique and infuriating. And I adore it.