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.