The Last Guardian (PS4)

  • First of all, just as a disclaimer. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus made me want to become a videogame developer, team Ico games mean more to me than I can put into words.

    Secondly, I don't mean to discourage anyone from playing it, and I'm glad if you liked the game, I still think it is definitely worth playing no matter how many issues I have with it.

    All those things considered, The last guardian is probably one of the biggest disappointments of my gaming life.
    Lets get it out of the way, the camera is simply a BAD implementation, it's clumsy twitchy and overall uncomfortable to direct, there's also a "fade to and from black feature" when the camera clips with geometry that is simply disorienting.
    It seems to be aiming for cinematic shots but it simply makes it a pain to maneuver in the environment, specially in vertical sections and close quarters.

    The controls while serviceable when controlling the kid by himself also have a ton of problems. While holding on to trico, it is sometimes incredibly inconsistent the direction that will actually take you to the spot you want to be in. It seems it sometimes uses character relative and sometimes camera relative controls, and it never comes across as intentional.
    Several times through the game, I tried to press the X button to release trico, which seemed to just make the kid jitter and go back to holding the bird, occasionally holding down X worked, but occasionally just pressing X made the kid go full on limp ragdoll and fall to his death.
    Moreover, the game insists on assigning multiple actions per button, which is specially problematic on the circle button. You want to point that laser? nope you're too close to a barrel you picked it up instead, want to pick up that barrel? nope Trico is too close so the game decides you want to pet him instead.
    Sure, some of these issues are minor and only occasional but they constantly appear throughout the experience, and due to the amount of interaction with objects you do here, it feels even worse than shadow of the colossus and Ico.

    Then there is the problem of Trico itself, that can be incredibly frustrating to direct, specially once you get the ability to give him instructions. Sure, the interactions between the boy and the creature are wonderful and extremely powerful at the time of creating a bond, but the game itself is almost equally capable of destroying that bond through sheer frustration.

    Those I feel are the common complaints from people playing the game, but personally those are surface level problems.

    While the world is breathtakingly beautiful [I don't want to understate how gorgeous it is], the progression through it seems confusing and aimless, many places seem familiar, whether you are revisiting them or not, and while that does give a lot of cohesion to the world, it also ends up making the distinct sections less memorable. And even though there's a mention of your goal of escaping the valley in the game, it never translates to a landmark or an actual mission.
    This is also exacerbated with how repetitive a lot of the puzzling feels, I personally thought the game felt stretched and longer than it needed to be, with little reason for it. Sure there are a few stand out rooms, and some impressive set pieces, but the bulk of the transversal feels like busywork.

    There's also an over reliance of scripted moments, of the type "you need to die here" or "you have to walk to this exact point" for no reason other than triggering an event.

    But beyond that there are deeper issues that may only apply to me and my expectations of what the game could have been.
    Firstly, Team Ico games are "solitary epic" adventures, but to me one of the greatest strengths they have is their ability to hint, to remain mysterious, to avoid explanations and bluntness to generate a world that entices wonder, shrouded in shades of legend and conflicting morality. These worlds feel coherent, grounded and unexpectedly real, beyond their more overt fantastical elements.

    The Last Guardian seems to forget all about this, it is happy to indulge in full-on explanatory cutscenes, it does away with the shades and tells a simplistic story that feels way smaller and contrived than both the previous games, and most disappointingly, it provides Hollywood worthy cliché sequences and answers that seem unaware of its lineage.

    Specially in the final chapters of the game ( the white tower ) the context is broken and the world falls apart. Not only does the inside of the tower look quite cheaply made compared to the lush splendor of the rest of the world, but the environment and the puzzles there appear extremely "gamey", so much that I firmly believe this section doesn't belong in the game (maybe it was rushed or a matter of budget?)
    Both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus finish with some strong tonal and narrative shifts, but they actually work with the world, they aren't foreign. To me, the whole final section stuck out as a sore thumb.

    Honestly, using the severed tail to take out the core to me felt almost insultingly ridiculous.

    And the game goes on with it's blunt simplistic explanations, even offering us a glimpse into the future, in case we thought them flying into the sunset was too subtle an ending. The story basically ties it all up with a little bow. Where is the melancholic mystery and intrigue that made these games so memorable!?

    The only mystery remaining being were those barrels are people jello, or if the machine used the people as some source of power and the barrels were simply some Trico treat.

    It is really sad for me, I had the highest hopes for this game. And in the aesthetic department, it surely delivers, but I felt everything else is a mess, and overall, a huge let down.

  • The camera is really bad I have to admit, on the pro I didn't have many other issues, a few fps dips every now and then but nothing major.

    After thinking about it all day nothing else I played this year had me so invested and compelled to keep moving forward, yet at the same time stand still and take in the beauty of the world and marvel at the AI of Trico. They achieved something very special with this.

  • @Delcast It's interesting to see such a different opinion from a long time Team ICO fan. I haven't played through any of their older games (could not get invested in ICO, haven't played SotC) but I loved The Last Guardian. The technical issues we can agree, but Trico and the story seems to be experienced so differently.

  • @Fridge-man said in The Last Guardian discussion thread. Spoiler-warning!:

    @Delcast It's interesting to see such a different opinion from a long time Team ICO fan. I haven't played through any of their older games (could not get invested in ICO, haven't played SotC) but I loved The Last Guardian. The technical issues we can agree, but Trico and the story seems to be experienced so differently.

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's a very cute story, but it's far more traditional, predictable, and almost entirely literal... very little is left to imagination, which contrasts heavily with the studio's previous work. This more direct approach also weakens my emotional investment in the relationship, because the previous games talk about grand themes, this one talks about the events in a story.
    But that's why I'm specifying that my appreciation comes from someone with a very invested interest in the previous games. To me it feels like a game from a different (and a little less interesting) creative team.

  • @Delcast Honestly, I'm pretty sick of games leaving things super open-ended and up to the player's imagination and interpretation. I think it's a cheap, overused tactic to generate buzz around your game today. Give me a proper ending any day over that nonsense. Lore is still greater than story though, and The Last Guardian is certainly a story.

  • @Mbun I mean, fair enough. It may be true that too many games do it but, like all narrative resources, I don't think many games do it well or use it to great effect. I'll agree that having an open ended story just because is cheap, but neither Ico nor Shadow of the Colossus have cheap open endings, they simply aren't quite as expository.
    To me TLG felt a bit quaint, like a little bubble, there is a self contained event, a very pretty piece of a world, but it doesn't quite connect to anything else, it doesn't seem like there's more out there, neither lore wise nor story wise and not even in a moral standpoint, this game is very finite.

    At the end of SotC there were many literal questions: about the world outside, about what Wander's transgression had really meant, about what happened before and what you had helped him accomplish. But there were more interesting questions about good and evil, about necessity and struggle, about player agency and about gameplay as narrative...(this is less pronounced on ICO but it's still there). In many ways shadow of the colossus speaks about more than just it's story, and that is what "games as art" should do. Even if you don't adhere to games being art, that's just what good fiction does.

    That is sorely missing from the last guardian, it takes a far more literal and aesthetic approach to beauty, but it doesn't really evoke more.
    And I understand that for that reason it's a more comfortable game, it's cute (but it is also very blunt about unnecessary details), but it's not intriguing, and to me that's a real shame.

  • @Delcast I don't disagree, but I think the games are just trying to accomplish different things. I think you could still consider TLG art for how it bonds the player with an AI companion over the course of a journey like almost no game before it has before. The entire game is playing with your heart over this relationship between Trico and you. That's the focus.

  • I can't get myself to play it
    I tried multiple times and spent 3 hours on the damn game, but the controls and framerate is so bad it made a the game near unplayable and puzzles unnecessarily difficult. I don't understand how this game got rated so high, probably because muh 10 years

  • @siegeh Framerate stays at 30 on the Pro. I know that's probably not an option for you but worth mentioning. The controls are just something to get used to. If you've ever played the studio's previous games, you should already be somewhat used to them. If you're struggling with Trico's AI, learning how to handle it is half the fun of the game.

  • I think the PS3 to PS4 conversion hurt the games performance. Their engine needs a serious upgrade because it wasn't really a techincal marvel visually, but it still chugged hard. I got used to it eventually, same story with the controls. Controls you can always get used to, getting used to frame rate is an individual thing.

  • @Mbun I have, the thing is, those games controls were decent. There comes a point where it feels too sluggish and unresponsive to actually be worth playing

  • Just finished it myself. The frame rate is pathetic but gods be damned if that wasn't a fantastic fucking game. This alone was worth the PS4 entry price for me. 10 years in the making and it was worth the wait, without a shadow of a doubt.

    Loved every second of it.

    And I don't get why people had issues controlling Trico. It's an animal, I thought it worked fine. You call out to him to get his attention, wait for him to turn and look at you so he can see what you want, and then hold down R1 and give whatever command you want. Yeah sometimes he doesn't seem to get it, or the game wants you to point in a very specific direction, but 9/10 times he did what I wanted immediately. And he's also pretty good at figuring stuff out for himself.
    The only thing I really disliked about the controls was the lack of a middle ground between sneaking and running full speed. I would have liked more range there, get a good jog going.

    It's also impossible not to love the big bastard. He's such a great cat/dog/bird animal.
    I would always make sure to give him a reward-petting whenever he did something good.

  • Banned

    @naltmank As a dog owner, I feel like I got a little something extra out of TLG. Trico can take a while to catch on to exactly what it is you want him to do in any given circumstance, but a lot of the time it reminded me of my dog. It was actually very heartwarming trying to get him to obey my commands, having Trico try something else for a minute or two before it seemed to "click".

  • Finished it after Xmas last year, took me about 11.5 hours in total.

    Wow, I have to say that, it absolutely flawed me. Just such a moving, harrowing and beautiful experience it all was. Was overcome with emotion in lots of places, particularly towards the end but the ending sequence just took things up another level and as the credits rolled I was just crying like a 10 year old in floods and floods of tears. It is a game I will truly never forget as long as I live and I keep replaying the ending sequence over and over again in my mind ever since it finished and welling up slightly, just such an incredible achievement in game design and narrative.

    SO glad I watched to the end of the credits too, as there's one more cut-scene which is just so awe-inspiring and just too perfect to put into words.

    It shows you as the boy, now an old man (the narrator) staring at the mirror which has been unearthed from the ground, and you're retelling this story to all your relatives and what that adventure was about. You put the mirror up into the air which sends out a bolt of light, the camera follows this bolt of light and leads you back to 'The Nest' down into the depths where you first meet just see darkness for a few minutes then she appears through the cave light, with a little set of Trico eyes next to her.

    Just honestly too beautiful for words, the music, the emotion, the beauty all coming together, knowing that this thing that cared for you more than anything, and that you felt the same was, somehow, still alive despite all the odds, just absolutely incredible, it flawed me it honestly did, it really is too perfect to put into words.

    One of the most beautiful, moving and harrowing games I've ever played, it truly must be played, I cannot recommend it enough, it is a game I will never forget as long as I live.


  • I'm just trying to do make more general topic discussions. If you have spoilers in here, please could you put a spoiler tag around them.

    As someone who still needs to play this game, I can't check but I'd be grateful if you could hide them for others.

  • Bumping because I wanna talk about finally finishing this great game. It was already one of my top games last year without me finishing the final hours. I finally have, and I have to say that the last half is phenomenal and a lot better than the beginning. I place a lot of value in revisiting areas in games and TLG has a lot of that as a storytelling mechanism which I greatly enjoyed. I was curious if a lot of the early game padding and repetitive puzzle rooms were to lengthen the game to make the journey and emotional impact of the ending much more rewarding. Either way, I loved it, even with its flaws. Don't see myself playing again for a long time though.

    Just wanted to say how it is the little things in storytelling media that really set it aside when done correctly.

    I really really love how the game menu is the Boy's shield, something that I never noticed at first. That fade from the fresh shield into the dirt shield in the post-credit scene is something that you don't get in say a film. It's the fact that I look at it every time I start the game and think little of it, but when it becomes a crucial gameplay and storytelling device and reappears like that, you feel a little spring of joy.

    Don't have much to discuss. I just really enjoyed the game. Play it if you haven't!

  • I really liked this game. I was a little hesitant to pick it up initially. I hate a love/hate relationship with all of Team ICO's titles. I love the art style and their tendency to tell a gripping story almost entirely through visuals. But I have never liked their controls. They just seem very awkward and clunky to me. But, like Shadow of the Colossus, I'm very happy that I pushed through it to the end. It wasn't perfect, but definitely worth the wait.

    A little side story: My 4-year-old nephew is just getting into gaming. He mostly sticks to lego games on my sister's iPad but it's a start. My sister was never a gamer but wanted to get into it so she could connect with him better whenever he starts to show more interest in it. She did something very similar with comic books when he fell in love with superheroes. Anyway, this was the first game that we played together. I think it made the game more magical because of what it meant in my life.

  • @Caleb_Aranda

    During my playthrough, I was watched by two female non-gamers who were glued to the screen with their full attention. Not only did they enjoy watching it, but they really enjoyed how everybody in the room was quite fixated on it, and how excited I got at times. They both showed interest in gaming that they had never previously shown. I think you picked a great first game to bond over considering my experience with these non-gamers enjoying themselves.

  • Oh man, what a journey. The first thing I did when I got home recently was have a PS4 Pro ready to go and grab a copy of TLG. Finally over the last few days I was able to really dig into it with no distractions and I loved it!

    I'll start off negative:

    • The camera is pretty bad - There's a lot of times where it gets caught in the geometry or against a wall and you can't see what direction you're going in. Generally this doesn't really affect the gameplay I'd say but it absolutely disorientates you.

    • It's a bit framey - Now I was playing on Pro so I didn't notice it too much but it's definitely apparent in the odd area. I'd love to hear more on the technical side of it because I was surprised that the end of the game and some of the set pieces generally seemed to be pretty consistent while other quieter areas would buckle a bit.

    • The prompts - Oh boy the prompts and then lack of too. Throughout the entire game I was being told how to hang or pull something or use the mirror. TLG stop it! I don't need this information at all. I hate it when games do this but the biggest issue I have with this is that it then doesn't teach you other controls very well. So I'm generally against prompts at all but since they went with it, I can't understand why they didn't do a better job specifying other commands like R1 & O etc. It was just really badly done I think.

    And the positive:

    • This game is gorgeous - It just looks so crisp and beautiful to me. Several times I genuinely just looked all around me at the incredible structures, the forests, the sun shining through and of course Trico. I dig it so much but that's no surprise as it's an extremely similar aesthetic to other Ueda games and they're all beautiful to this day.
    • The relationship - This will probably be the longest point as it's the core of the game. This for me is why games will always be that something more to other mediums. Both characters rely on each other and need each other to progress. Throughout the game you build up this bond with Trico but there are still clear mechanics in the game where one needs to do something for the other to progress. It's when these mechanics are broken where I think you really get that bond. That some things are just more important then fear and that's why I love the following part.

    There is a stage where you see two armoured suits holding the 'eye' glass so as usual I find my way over to get rid of them only when I get there I can't get both of them. I take down one before getting carried away. Now usually this would mean I'm screwed but for the first time Trico abandons whatever fear or obsession it has with the glass and jumps into the rescue. That could have been in a movie or a cutscene and it wouldn't have the same impact, being in the game made this game. It's what it's all about!
    ! That happens again later when you get to the final tower and Trico comes to save you again as everything crumbles around you.

    • Trico - Just everything about Trico is so good to me. It's animations are so good. I would spend so much time just watching as it wandered around an area, looked around, roared, scratched itself, jumped somewhere. Hearing it cry in pain, or look nervous, getting ready for a jump, whatever. You better believe I removed every spear and petted Trico all the time, especially when it would lower it's head to the ground. You don't pass up an opportunity like that.

    • Scale - Which goes to this next point. The sense of scale in this game is so epic. You're constantly reminded how small you are in this world. The verticality (Couldn't help myself). And I love how this progresses through the game. You're initially in this claustrophobic cave with this massive beast. As soon as you get outside and see the scale and journey you need to take, it's so cool to see and even better when you can see places you've been. On top of that, the first time Trico jumps somewhere while you're on it is incredible and it's even more amazing when Trico just grabs you, throws you on it's back and off Trico goes. I would smile so much every single time!

    • Puzzles - The thing that I liked so much about the puzzles was how much the boy and Trico were needed in them and just how standard they were. There was no real extremely gamey thing about them I felt. Everything was just a standard physics based problem. They generally were pretty easy but I still great satisfaction from completing them just due to the teamwork displayed. The water puzzle and seesaw being the highlights for me.

    • Story - Honestly, it's an extremely simple story that's very similar to previous games too, more so Ico but still all the theme's and evil forces and mystery are there for all the games. It's nothing on the scale of a SotC but it's really about the relationship between Trico and the boy. The game is clearly a lot more cinematic than his previous work. I don't think that's a good or bad thing really, as long as the core focus is on developing the story in the game. I do agree to an extent with @Delcast that there isn't exactly a lot left open to interpretation although I'd also say that interpretation is exaggerated a little in SotC and Ico where we do actually have a pretty good idea on what is going on. I suppose this is the best place to just mention that the last twenty minutes or so of the game is everything I'd want really. I don't really want to say anything else on that.

    So those are my muddled thoughts. I'd love to hear about any connections to the other games. I thought I noticed one in game but since I haven't seen any articles online about it, I'd imagine it's nothing. I'll spoiler anyway. But yes, I loved this game and someday I'll come back to play it again. For now I just need to digest it a bit more but considering the long wait, thinking we'd never get it, then being away for when it was released, I'm just so happy that it is still the type of games I want to see made!

    Forgot to put this in. I thought in the flashback that the person who basically said "I hope you're the chosen one" was the same person who goes to stop Wander in SotC.

    Edit: Oh one more thing. I absolutely loved the intro to the game and the load screens when you went back. Showing all the different forms of those animals was so cool!

    One of the greats.