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Ico is a boy with horns. At the age of twelve, when his horns grew large enough, the elders send him away to be sacrificed in order to prevent evil spirits from attacking the village. Entombed in a crumbling ancient castle, Ico only manages to begin his escape when a freak earthquake shakes loose the vessel he has been locked in. Ico shortly meets a princess named Yorda, who has been imprisoned by the evil queen. The two children must explore the ominous castle, trying to find a way to escape, persecuted by the queen's shadow minions.

ICO is a third-person perspective game that mixes action-based exploration gameplay with puzzles. The game is set almost exclusively in the castle, which consists of dozens of rooms, passages, platforms, and contraptions. Ico will run, climb, and jump his way through these environments. The puzzles in the game are physical (environmental): Ico must push and pull objects, manipulate switches, re-arrange structures, etc.

Yorda will accompany Ico throughout most of the game. Many of the puzzles revolve around creating a way for Yorda to access special glowing blue doors, which only she is capable of unlocking with her powers. Being less athletic than Ico, Yorda will often need a more comfortable path built for her. Ico can hold Yorda's hand to lead her with him, and also call her to come nearer.

With the exception of the final (and only) boss, all the enemies in the game are shadows. They attack in groups, either at pre-set points, or when Ico is separated from Yorda for a long time. Their goal is always the same: to capture Yorda and carry her towards a black whirlpool. If the player fails to rescue her before she is consumed by this shadow portal, the game is over. Conversely, Ico can not be killed by the shadows; they can only push him, preventing him from reaching Yorda in time. The player must therefore fend off the shadows (Ico uses a stick for the largest portion of the game), at the same time hurrying towards Yorda. Protecting and rescuing Yorda is one of the primary gameplay elements in ICO.

The game has no HUD (heads-up display). Other distinguishing features are the soft lightning visual style, low-key use of in-game music, and conversations through a fictional language, leaving much to the player's imagination.


ICO PlayStation 3 Crossing one of the many bridges this castle has.
ICO PlayStation 3 Battling the shadows armed with nothing but a stick.
ICO PlayStation 2 Title Screen
ICO PlayStation 2 Yorda can make certain blocks appear out of thin air

Alternate Titles

  • "イコ" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Group

User Reviews

Meditative action and emotional gameplay PlayStation 2 אולג 小奥 (169161)
One of the Playstation's finest. PlayStation 2 DANIEL HAWKS ! (1910)
The only computer or video game so far that I would unreservedly call "artistic". Also fun and playable PlayStation 2 weregamer (157)
Mystical and pretty, and with a bit of retro-cool. PlayStation 2 Shazbut (158)
Superb environmental puzzles with a pair of characters that you will care about. PlayStation 2 Random Fiste (9)
Finally a really really good PS2 game PlayStation 2 nullnullnull (1471)
The Princess and the Draggin' PlayStation 2 Terrence Bosky (5235)
Annoying for women, pleasant for men! PlayStation 2 Melody (119)

The Press Says

GamesFirst! PlayStation 2 Nov 15, 2001 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
GamersMark PlayStation 2 Mar 28, 2002 10 out of 10 100
GamingTrend PlayStation 2 Oct 30, 2005 587 out of 600 98
VicioJuegos.com PlayStation 2 May 06, 2005 95 out of 100 95
Netjak PlayStation 2 Sep 02, 2002 9.1 out of 10 91
GameCell UK PlayStation 2 Apr 04, 2003 9 out of 10 90
PTGamers PlayStation 2 Dec 31, 2005 17 out of 20 85
Mygamer.com PlayStation 2 Oct 17, 2004 8.4 out of 10 84
Edge PlayStation 2 Nov 02, 2001 8 out of 10 80
EL33TONLINE PlayStation 2 Nov 23, 2006 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80


Topic # Posts Last Post
512x256 PAL shots 2 Indra is here (19707)
Jun 30, 2013



The original artwork, designed by Fumito Ueda, was inspired by the works of the surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico. For comparison, the painting The Nostalgia of the Infinite bears a strong resemblance in style to the cover art.


ICO was originally meant to be released for the PlayStation, but the development was halted and then continued for the PlayStation 2. A screenshot gallery of the first version has been included with the limited edition of Shadow of the Colossus. Also, originally Yorda was due to have horns, not lead character Ico


The European Limited Edition version has a double cardboard-sleeved case and contains four postcard-sized art cards.


In 2004, author Miyuki Miyabe released a novel in Japan based on the game. She wrote it because of her appreciation of the game (ISBN 4-06-212441-6).

Version differences

The US version does not contain the the second playthrough bonuses present in the European and Japanese releases. These included translated subtitles (initially indecipherable), the option to have a second player control the princess, a secret weapon, and the option to play the game with a distinct cinematic effect for certain cut-scenes. There are also changes to the shadow generation points and the AI, and the Waterfall and Windmill puzzles are less complex.


  • 4Players
    • 2002 – #7 Best PS2 Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2002– Best Atmosphere of the Year
    • 2002– Special Game Idea of the Year
  • EGM
    • February 2006 (Issue #200) - #121 out of 200 in the "Greatest Games of Their Time" lisz
Information also contributed by Big John WV, Indra was here and Mark Ennis

Related Web Sites

Contributed to by nullnullnull (1471) and Kabushi (122207)