The Last Guardian
- The Last Guardian (1988 on Atari 8-bit, 2024 on Antstream)
The Last Guardian is a 3D platform game with puzzle elements set in a fantasy world. The story centers around the bond between a little boy and a huge Griffin-like creature called Trico. It is framed as a flashback as the boy, now an old man, narrates the events. At the start of the game the boy wakes up in a cave. He has been kidnapped and was taken to a large castle. He discovers tattoos that he previously did not have on his body and he also immediately meets Trico, wounded and chained up, next to him. The boy frees him, removes the spears from his body and feeds him to bring back his energy. While Trico is hostile at first, he warms up to the boy and then throughout the game the two work together to escape the castle and to fight the guards that attempt to recapture them. The player only controls the boy and has to learn to work with Trico and issue commands to coerce it into specific actions. That does not always work right away, as in some cases Trico can become distracted or stubbornly acts by his own instincts and interests. The player can also often choose to keep it close through commands or to let it roam freely.
Interaction with Trico is needed for almost all of the puzzles. The boy can ride his back and reach high places that way. The creature can also jump over large gaps. The boy can move around by himself, climb platforms, carry objects and interact with levers and other objects. Trico does all the fighting against the guards with his mighty claws and the boy has to stay out of the way. The creature is however vulnerable to spears and the boy can climb him to pull them out. In the later parts of the game more cooperation during fights is needed as Trico becomes scared of a symbol and the boy has to work around that. He can also shoot lighting out of his tale and in later parts of the game the boy uses a shield to redirect the stream for attacks or to solve puzzles.
Sometimes the boy can be captured and dragged away by a guards and then he has to wriggle free. The boy speaks an unknown language and communication between the two is largely nonverbal. The boy has to interpret Trico's body language to figure out when he is afraid, angry or hungry and then interact with the environment to change his mood or find food. Trico also often provides subtle hints of where to go next through his gaze. The beast can be pointed in a certain direction by throwing barrels to draw his attention. Throughout the game the boy learns more ways of control over Trico by issuing commands for directions, jumping or moving down.
- 人喰いの大鷲トリコ - Japanese spelling
- 最后的守护者 - Simplified Chinese spelling
Credits (PlayStation 4 version)
701 People (520 developers, 181 thanks) · View all
|Lead Game Designer
|Environment Art Director
|Character Art Director
|Lead Environment Artist
|Associate Project Manager
|Animator / Cutscene Manager
|[ full credits ]
Average score: 78% (based on 14 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 13 ratings with 1 reviews)
* Honest, emotional storytelling through gameplay
Generally intriguing setting and lore
Trico is the best friend you'll ever have in a game
Wonderful environments and animations
A unique experience
* Technical issues including framerate and camera problems
The Bottom Line
It’s impossible for anyone to talk about The Last Guardian without bringing up its exceptionally lengthy development time. The game started development for the PlayStation 3 in 2007. It was considered vaporware for much of its development time since little was ever revealed about the game at industry trade shows. It’s elusiveness gave it a nearly mythical status in the gaming industry Some people even wondered if it was even a real game. Finally, at the very end of 2016, well into the PlayStation 4’s lifecycle, The Last Guardian revealed its existence on store shelves.
The Last Guardian follows the story of a young boy who wakes up one day in the lair of a gigantic creature he calls Trico, with strange markings on his skin. Trico is a hybrid of many different animals, most notably a cat, a dog, and a gryphon. After befriending Trico, the boy and beast set out on a peril-filled journey to escape the strange valley in which they find themselves trapped.The entire game is narrated by the boy as a much older man relaying the story to an unseen person. The narration reacts to many of the events which happen in the game, and can sometimes provide vague hints on what needs to be done in order to progress.
If you have played the developer’s first game, Ico, you’ll feel right at home with The Last Guardian. Most sections of the game will have you working with Trico on solving various puzzles in order to advance. These puzzles include finding and feeding him barrels, destroying stained-glass eyes which hypnotize Trico, and figuring out how to direct Trico to the next area. Other sections are more combat-oriented and will have you go up against stone knights which are intent on dragging the boy. You are incapable of fighting against these enemies, but Trico is able to take them out with just a few swipes of his paw. Nevertheless, if one catches you, you’ll have to rapidly press the shoulder buttons in order to escape from its grasp before it brings you to one of the various blue doors. These sections sometimes left me feeling exasperated, but in a very good way.
Learning to work with Trico forms the crux of the game. The game illustrates just how much of a slow process earning the mutual trust of a creature might be. You can direct the creature to accomplish various commands, but he won’t always listen or will do something you didn’t intend. Over the course of the game, however, you’ll find that Trico really does have your best interests at heart, and he will become more receptive to your commands as you figure out exactly how to guide him. He will also do increasingly risky things throughout the course of the game. Sometimes, Trico will have to help the boy, and other times, the boy will have to help Trico. That feeling of mutual trust is conveyed to the player through the gameplay.
The game deliberately keeps background events and lore hidden away, and focuses solely on the boy, Trico, and their growing bond. There’s a lot you can infer about this setting, but it’s not the main focus of the game. Still, the detailed world design and use of recurring elements does make you wonder about the true purpose of everything. You do get some answers near the end of the game, but these answers are likely to raise even more questions.
What really impresses is the sheer scale of some of these environments. Trico himself is at least the size of a house, but even compared to his size these environments are enormous in comparison. Hallways shake as Trico walks through them. Platforms of wood and steel barely support the weight of the hulking beast, and often crumble underneath his feet. There were some genuinely heart-stopping moments as I leaped across massive chasms only to be caught by Trico’s tail or mouth at the last second.
The Last Guardian’s biggest faults lie in its technical issues, rather than its design. For starters, the framerate dips during outdoor areas of the game. I played this game on the PS4 Pro, which supposedly runs this game best, and I was still surprised by how low the framerate could get. I can’t imagine what this game would be like on the standard PS4. The camera is also problematic. There is no way to really zoom the camera in or out, and it sometimes follows Trico too closely. The entire screen turns black whenever the camera is blocked, which can make the game feel jarring to watch. The biggest issue with the game is its controls. There’s constant input lag all throughout the game, and the boy doesn’t feel quite as responsive as he should be. It also feels like the camera and movement controls have huge deadzones.
The Last Guardian is a masterpiece, but it’s a flawed masterpiece. The controls can be clunky, the camera and framerate have issues, some of the puzzles are unintuitive, and Trico doesn’t always do precisely what you want. Yet despite all of these flaws, what remains is a highly unique experience. In a gaming landscape stocked with cookie-cutter military shooters, bland open worlds, and sports games, The Last Guardian isn’t afraid to offer a profoundly different experience. It’s an austere, minimalist game that focuses on emotional storytelling through gameplay. It’s an uncompromising vision that makes no apologies for its obtuse and sometimes frustrating nature, but it’s all the more rewarding because of that.
PlayStation 4 · by krisko6 (814) · 2017
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Game added by Sciere.
Game added December 20, 2016. Last modified December 9, 2023.