The Last Guardian review



It's been years in the making. Finally, the follow-up to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus hits PS4. Discover what we thought...

Cats. Let’s face it, those furry little critters are really annoying. Always clambering into places they can’t get down from. Playing with things you’re trying to use. Sitting just where you don’t want them and refusing to move. Asking for food again and again and again… And yet they’re just so flipping loveable and cute. You just want to cuddle their fuzzy faces all up!

So, The Last Guardian is basically a cat. It’s amazing and wonderful and will fill you with joy. And then you’ll be cursing its name and threatening to throw it out in the rain if it doesn’t stop being so frustrating…

(image source: Sony)

After waiting about ten years for a game, expectations are bound to be high. The previous two games in the trilogy, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, were both bona fide classics that pushed the boundaries of gameplay as much as they innovated new ways to tell a story and generate an emotional response from the player.

(image source: Sony)

For those not in the know, Last Guardian puts you in the role of a young lad who awakens in a cell, guarded by a huge half cat / half bird creature named Trico. The boy discovers Trico is wounded, and helps by pulling the arrows from the beast’s body. Together they set out to explore and escape the mysterious, crumbling, castle they are being held in.

Gameplay takes the form of a 3rd person platformer. with you taking control of the boy as he clambers across the dangerous ramparts. You’ll need to get Trico to help you in a number of situations, and the boy can call to him using a number of commands.

(Image source: Sony)

Much like a real cat, Trico has his very own opinions as to whether he wants to help you – or how he’ll interpret your instructions. This can be somewhat frustrating, as Trico stays sat on his perch observing butterflies and ignores the boy’s shouted instructions. This can lead to you yelling as much as the boy, especially when Trico suddenly decides to saunter over about five minutes after you issued the command with no obvious reason for the delay. As we said, just like a real cat.

(Image source: Sony)

Other frustrations include a temperamental camera which often has a somewhat strange taste in viewing angles. Trying to complete a tricky section where you need pinpoint accuracy to avoid falling thousands of feet? No problem. Look at this bush! Carefully angled the camera so you can keep an eye on a patrolling guard you’re trying to avoid? Don’t worry about it – the camera will swing around wildly the moment you move so you can look at all the areas where the guard isn’t.

 

(Image source: Sony)

And yet, we love The Last Guardian for all its flaws. Those camera problems are not too bad in the grand scheme of things and actually brought back a little warm feeling of nostalgia for those PS2 days when this was the norm. Trico’s unpredictable obedience levels? This actually gives him more personality, makes him feel like a real cat. It’s almost like Trico has his own free will and isn’t just a robot that does your bidding at the press of a button. Because of this, you actually feel more emotionally attached to him.

Can Last Guardian live up to expectations? Of course not – even if the game contained Half Life 3 as a secret bonus it still couldn’t be everything some people have built it up to be. Does this mean it’s a flop? No way – Last Guardian has its flaws, but some of these go towards creating an emotional experience that will stay with you long after you put the controller down.