The Last Guardian Is Unlike Anything You’ve Played Before
One of the longest gestating (and as a result, most highly anticipated) games pretty much ever, Fumito Ueda’s The Last Guardian has been in development ever since he completed 2005’s Shadow of the Colossus, a PlayStation 2 gem about a young man and his loyal horse. It was a strange, occasionally baffling game that refused to follow any familiar gaming beats, and Ueda’s latest effort is no different.
Originally planned as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, that console’s cycle came and went, and now we’re getting it at about the halfway point of the PlayStation 4’s lifespan. Like Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian is a mysterious, lyrical adventure about an unlikely friendship, in this case between a nameless boy and a giant cat-bird hybrid called Trico. Upon waking up in a strange cave next to an imprisoned and wounded animal, the boy must mend, rescue, and feed his new companion before setting off on a journey across an unknown land full of imposing architecture and vast wilderness.
While somewhat difficult to classify in terms of genre, much like Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian focuses on puzzle-solving and platforming. What really sets this game apart from others of its ilk is how you must simultaneously learn to work alongside Trico, an unpredictable but valuable ally. Like an actual pet, Trico’s erratic mood swings and limited attention span requires patience, which might not be a challenge some gamers are looking for, but once you get the hang of things and form a better bond with your fantastic beast, it certainly makes for one of the most unique and memorable gaming experiences available. As with any worthwhile companionship, occasional frustration is rewarded with a lasting bond.
The boy’s clumsy movements can often be challenging to master as well. Being that he’s just a scrappy kid, this also plays into the game’s realism that brings with it an enhanced sense of immersion—and yes, difficulty.
If what I’m writing is coming off as a little cryptic, it’s intentional. The Last Guardian is a very strange, moving, and intriguingly stubborn game that works best if you just go in with a blank slate and an open mind. If you think you’ve played em all, definitely don’t hesitate to give this a spin—it’s really something special, and don’t be surprised if it shoots right to the top of your best-of 2016 list.
The Last Guardian is out now exclusively on PlayStation 4. Check out the latest, backstory-shedding trailer below.