Ico

Moby ID: 5158
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Description official descriptions

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.

Spellings

  • イコ - Japanese spelling
  • 이 코 - Korean spelling

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Credits (PlayStation 2 version)

193 People (147 developers, 46 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 90% (based on 66 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 198 ratings with 8 reviews)

Annoying for women, pleasant for men!

The Good
I have a lot of pity for Ico. He and Yorda are so poor. They are just little innocent children. But those people are so bad, put them in that castle.

Gameplay is very special. It's the only game where you have to care for another person. In the battles, you can't die yourself, but you have to protect Yorda. As a woman, that was also pretty annoying for me!

There are such cute save points in the game. You and Yorda sit together on the sofa and hold hands to save the game. And if you reload the game later, you'll see that Ico was sleeping!

The puzzles are pretty hard, you'll have to find lots of ways to help Yorda. But that's because you work as a team. Only Yorda can open those blue doors. That's why you must help each other to escape the castle. And there is a very special final boss battle. It has a connection with the normal battles of the game, with this wave of darkness that captures Yorda when the shadows take her.

The graphics are excellent. I played this game six years after it was released, and it looks as if it was made just now! Everything looks perfect. Animations are especially realistic. This and Shadow of the Colossus have the best animation of all games. And those two games also have connection in story, and have a similar kind of story, with unexpected endings.

The quality of the story is almost the same like in "Shadow of the Colossus", although I think the ending of "Shadow of the Colossus" was better. And also like that other game, there is not much conversation, but the story is in the action and cut scene. You feel the story from how Ico and Yorda help each other and look at each other.

The music during the final cut scene is great. Very fitting for what is happening.

The Bad
In this game, you'll always have to protect Yorda. How annoying. You have to escape yourself, but now you have this Yorda to take care of. You can't even be killed, but the game is over if you don't protect Yorda. And she really can't do anything, can't protect herself at all. Of course, this is the idea of the game.

I don't like this feeling of protecting someone. I'm a woman, so I want to be protected. But I'm sure many men will like this game, because they like the feeling of protecting a woman. Like my husband!

The Bottom Line
Very recommended. The game is six year old, but even its graphics look great today, and its story hasn't got old, better than in most today's games, many of which are rubbish!

PlayStation 2 · by Melody (48) · 2007

Finally a really really good PS2 game

The Good
Like everyone else I fell hook, line and sinker for all the hype and marketing surrounding the PS2 launch. Since I didn't have my act together to pre-order a system I was stuck driving to Best Buy everyday to see if a new shipment came in. Finally I got my PS2 and went on a buying frenzy of games and accessories. Now I that I probably own fourteen or fifteen PS2 games I must say I have been slightly disappointed. That is up till now. ICO has got to be the sleeper hit of the year if not the decade. It was quietly developed by an internal development team at Sony Computer Entertainment and launched in North America with out any fanfare by Sony Computer Entertainment of America. I only bought this game because I wanted something to play while I waited for Metal Gear Solid 2 and Grand Theft Auto 3 to come out. Boy oh boy did I find a gem.

If you liked Prince of Persia you will love this game. Ico embodies the absolute pinnacle to date of the Adventure / Puzzle-Solving genre. The world is completely interactive. There is nothing in Ico's environment that you can not climb, hang, push, pull or jump off of. If you think you can do it you probably can. Every edge, every railing, every banister you can climb and hang off of even though it most likely does not progress the plot. The controls are fluid and elegant. The movement of Ico is incredibly realistic. It quite fun just to mess around seeing what the young lad is capable of.

If you liked Myst you will love Ico. I have yet to see a more meticulously detailed or more beautifully rendered 3D world than this game. It for the first time really showcases what the PS2 is capable of. The lighting effects are amazing. The camera angels are flawless. There are certain parts of the game where the shear scale are breathtaking and the heights dizzying.

A unique twist of the traditional rescue/escape theme is that Ico and Yorda, the young Princess also trapped in the castle, survival and success are intertwined. Neither one can communicate with each other, but understanding is immediately apparent. Yorda can not jump or climb as well as Ico. If they are to escape he will have to pull her up steep climbs, catch her jumping across large gaps and coach and encourage her to climb up or down ladders and stairs. Ico will have to constantly protect her from the demons that try to steal her away. Yorda however is the only one who knows the secrets of the castle and can open the magically locked doors. The relationship between the two is very tender and innocent.

My girlfriend, who could take or leave the whole video game thing, spent five hours on Sunday watching me play Ico and she loved every minute. She was able to suspend disbelief and immerse herself in this incredibly beautiful world SCEI created. We were both touched by the sad and very Japanese ending.

Ico also has great voice acting ( I think ). My main irritation with most video games is the terrible voice acting that goes into them. Silent Hill 2 is a decent game but the acting is do damn corny the experience is lost. The same is true with the Resident Evil series. Ico however is in Japanese with English subtitles. Though there are few spoken parts when there is acting it is quite well done. Another nice touch is that it is impossible to make any puzzles unsolvable. I hate games that allow you to destroy the only ladder you need to climb out of the pit or let you progress so far in the game without the necessary key, again Resident Evil comes to mind.

The Bad
It was short and linear. Neither one was is a huge complaint. Given the scale of this game I probably just finished it too fast. There are many things I could still explore so there is some replayability. I understand why the game is so linear. The environment is so large it would be too easy to get lost and not progress the plot for hours and hours if you could just wonder around willy nilly.

The Bottom Line
The best PS2 game to date. Do not be fooled by it's seemingly timid packaging there is an amazing game underneath.

PlayStation 2 · by nullnullnull (1463) · 2001

One of the Playstation's finest.

The Good
ICO was the first Playstation 2 game I bought. It only took about eight days to finish it, but it was a memorable experience. Nothing on the Playstation 2 has ever quite managed to out do it. This is a game that is nothing like anything I've ever played before. A true masterpiece. Read onto the review to find out why.

Gameplay-

Puzzles galore. And not all the puzzles are the typical push the block stuff. No no, these puzzles require a fair amount brain matter to solve. Some require some backtracking, but it's usually a minimal distance. One of my favorites for instance- You have to get Yorda to a high ledge. But there's only a locked door and a climbing chain to get there. Yorda can't climb chains, so you have to figure out how to unlock the door. Once you're on the higher ledge, there are grates and a tunnel beneath them. You climb into the tunnel and go to the end and stand on a pressure pad. It opens the locked door and you call Yorda. She stands with you and on the pad. You leave her on the pad and go out the door. Climb back up and call Yorda to the open grate where you can pull her up.

Simple, yet requires thought. The first time I almost drove myself crazy trying to figure it out. If won't reveal anymore, but needless to say the puzzles are great.

The platforming in the game is good, but plain. It's mainly jumping across gaps and scaling ledges. Some of the scaling in the later parts of the castle is cool, but some of it can be tedious. It certainly doesn't detract from the gameplay, but only adds one really innovative thing. When you're travelling with Yorda and you cross a gap, you can call to Yorda to come to the other side of the ledge so she can leap across and you can grab her, and pull her up. You have to do the same with some ledges and ladders. You have to escort Yorda throughout most of the game, but it's not usually aggravating. The first time she's being abducted by shadow beings, you might jump out of your seat with fear of not getting there in time. It creates a special bond between the two of you. If she gets lost you feel you have to go back and get her. It may be somewhat cumbersome to go back whole areas to do it, but you have to in order to finish the game, and to have some peace of mind.

The combat in the game is simplistic, but I wouldn't want something more complicated in a game like this because it would bog it down. The square button is always attack. But you gain weapons in the game. It goes from a wood plank, to a sword, to a mace and ultimately the magic sword. The mace is the best weapon for most of the game. It beats out the sword easily, and anything beats the plank. The magic sword kills shadow beings in one swipe. But by that point, they won't try to seriously harm you. The showdown with the evil queen is actually the hardest part of the game. Once you hit her, the sword goes off in a different direction out of your hands. It took me about seven tries to finally get her.

All in all the gameplay is some of the best I've ever experienced in a Playstation game.

Sound-

Like no other 3D game, it does audio in a minimalistic way, but it's incredibly convincing. When you're near the sea, you hear gulls, the sound of waves crashing into the cliffs below. The crackles of torches pop and crack while your footsteps echo in the lonely halls. In the courtyards, birds chirp, the breeze rustles the leaves in the trees gently lulling them back and forth. The sounds of shadow beings squirming out of their pools makes your skin crawl. You...am I getting too poetic ? Well it was at least it was well written. The music is a bit more difficult to describe. It's mainly made up of classical pieces, but some sound like keyboards or like they were electric. Regardless of how it was made, it absolutely resembles nothing I've heard in other videogames or movies, or otherwise. Very incredible. The voice acting is good, but somewhat hard judge. All the dialogue is done in a fictional language. I heard somewhere it was backwards Japanese. But not to fear, all of it's subtitled. But some of it (everything Yorda says) is done in symbol subtitles that aren't translated. But I suppose that would be redundant. The queen sounds as nasty as she acts. Very condescending. ICO himself sounds concerning but innocent. Yorda is impossible to judge accurately, because almost all of speech is very quiet. But not bad at all. To wrap it up for sound. Great ! Fantastic !

Graphics-

Now this is where ICO shows how well it has aged. The one thing people talk about when discussing this game is the lighting. And rightly so. Never before or since in my opinion has a game ever managed to duplicate light so perfectly. That type of blue-grey you get in the shadows, the way the grass almost looks yellow in the sunlight, or how it shines brilliantly in the open. The shadows come across like they do in real life. Words simply do not do most of it justice. A tired cliche' yes but true. The areas you get to play in are no slouches either. Drab, broken down, overgrown with weeds, and not too much color. Why is this appealing ? By itself it would look horrible. But the light gives it it's color and depth. Like in real life. And boy are those depths and colors pulled together well. Torches give off a flickering glow, the sun makes even the blandest looking of stones brilliant. One cool graphical element is that if you look at certain points in the game, you can see future ares of the game.

Whoever did the character animation should get a award for their work. It can be a little jerky sometimes, but more realistic than any other game in 3D history. The cutscene at the gate after the queen leaves, ICO looks filled with dread and shock as rushes back towards Yorda. His eyes grow wide, and his shoulders fall back just before he runs. That attention to detail is impressive and puts most other 3D games of that era and even today to shame. Yorda shivers when the wind blows, and looks around curiously. Most impressive of all are the shadow beings. They drip of black, smokey, oil like stuff. It's almost impossible to believe that those things are made of polygons. Amazing. One last thing I wanted to mention are the trees in the courtyard of the earlier mentioned puzzle. It just fun to zoom in on them and see the bright green leaves sway back and forth in the breeze. It's for whatever reason very captivating.

Controls-

Simple. Intuitive. Precise and responsive. A perfect dream for those who hate complicated, unresponsive control schemes. Nothing more need be said.



The Bad
Graphics-

I noticed that some of the textures were a mix of high-res and low-res textures. It didn't look cohesive in some spots and was slightly distracting in one part of the game. I know this game was originally intended for the Playstation 1, but I swear I saw some textures that looked like there on the Playstation 1. At one point early in the game I noticed that a wall looked like a mess of pixels. When I zoomed in on it, it smoothed out. But zoom out and you get pixels. I just wonder if they were in such a rush to get it onto the Playstation 2 if they cut corners there. It ultimately doesn't matter though. And at the top of the cart rail track during a fight, the frame-rate dipped slightly.

Gameplay-

Yorda can be a bit much to handle at times. If she gets lost you have to go get her. Sometimes she'll climb a ladder, stop, and go back the other way. Sigh.



The Bottom Line
I have said everything I can to convince you to get this game or try it in the review above. If you actually read (Yes most people skim huge reviews like this)it that is. But I fully recommend it for something that's truly a unique experience.

PlayStation 2 · by GAMEBOY COLOR! (1990) · 2008

[ View all 8 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
512x256 PAL shots GTramp (81961) Jun 30, 2013

Trivia

Art

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.

Development

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

Extras

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

Novel

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 second playthrough bonuses present in the Japanese and European releases. These include translated subtitles (initially hieroglyphs), the option to have a second player (who controls the princess), a secret weapon different from the one findable in the first playthrough, and the option to play the game with one of four cinematic video filters. There are also changes to some of the shadow generation points, fights with enemies are slightly harder, and the Waterfall and Windmill puzzles are simplified.

Awards

  • 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

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by nullnullnull.

PlayStation 3 added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Macintrash, Jeanne, Sciere, Leandro S., Zeppin, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy).

Game added October 15, 2001. Last modified May 10, 2024.