I was so stricken with The Last Guardian during it’s development; another Shadow of the Colossus was on the way!
And then it finally came out.
I pre-ordered the big box with the nice statue and steel book, the cute little stickers, and I had Trico on the mind as best ally of all time. Once the game started, I was enthralled with the graphics, and the way Trico reacted to me. He followed me everywhere, with his eyes, and when he felt better he literally followed me. Trying to squeeze through tight spots with his head, and jumping great distances I spent an hour climbing all on my own. And the shield, the shield mechanic with the laser tail was a great thing to play with for hours. It was fantasy, it was magic, it was laser tails! But all of it blinded me. But what was I blind from?
The truth I tell you, the truth.
The Last Guardian was a boring game.
You can beat the game in less than five hours! And kudos to whoever manages to do that, because not only is the game boring, but the controls are the worst controls in any Playstation 4 game ever. Trying to climb on Trico is a nightmare. He moves constantly, and you don’t know if you’re going to make it to his head without finding yourself on his belly. Don’t ask the camera for help, becuase it will just stare at the wall the whole time. And the location of the game? What location! You’re in a bunch of buildings that you can hardly identify as unique. They all look the same, you can easily get turned around if you’re not paying attention, and I did.
I played the game when it first came out, and went halfway through wearing these goggles preventing me from seeing anything wrong. All I could see were these huge cut scenes of small length (they lagged mind you). The frame rate chopped whenever there were too many of those animated armors on screen trying to kidnap me. And Lord help my poor machine if Trico went berserk, or flew, or… anything…
So anyhow, life got in the way, and I didn’t play it for a long time. Until Detroit came out. After we finished I felt good, so I decided to finish some other games, and Last Guardian had been there just waiting for me. And the moment it started again, the goggles were off. Everything I had a qualm with I picked up from that second go around. I was lost, I didn’t know if I was going the right way, although I was going the right way the entire time, nothing except new scenery told me. And I suppose that’s not a bad thing, but when I knew what was right it didn’t feel fun. And that was it, it wasn’t satisfying figuring out how to progress, that’s not a puzzle, a puzzle is having all of the pieces in front of you, and figuring it out so you get that “yes!!!” moment. I wasn’t relieved when I found the next area to go to, I spent the entire going “Oh great, what’s in this place?” There was a moment where I needed Trico to launch me up using an old-style wheelbarrow, and it was an hour before I positioned that dumb dog-dragon in the right spot to toss me like a dwarf.
And I told the elf. One. Hour.
And then there was the final boss. There was no way of knowing what to do without looking up a guide. That little annoying ball of darkness was fine if you made it smaller, but not too small. Where was that in the game before that hinted at me to know that? NO WHERE!
Trico gets the stuffing beat out of it, its tail pulled off, and wings crippled by other Tricos with masks and dark eyes. The story becomes revealed (which isn’t much), the furry creatures capture little kids to keep feeding the glowing green ball so its stays alive. But since you the main character gets free thanks to a freak lightning storm, we’re able to stop the cycle. It’s cool and all, but…
I don’t really care.
I mean the green ball can’t take kids anymore from their villages anymore, and the other creatures can’t be under its control, but then Trico gives the kid back, flies away, presumably dies, and the boy grows up happily ever after. He even finds the shield he used which awakens a Trico (or two) back in the valley where the whole game took place.
It took them seven years to make the game. And the game I think falls short in everything. Controls were utterly garbage. The rest I rate, “could have been better” characters, story, landscape, puzzles, ending, post game content, everything.
I looked up articles on the development, and the team had a great idea in mind. They took the surprising fact that everyone loved Agro more than Mona from Shadow of the Colossus. They ran with that idea, and they did a lot, but they didn’t reach it for me. I didn’t have a great relationship with Trico, he wouldn’t obey the commands I gave him, probably because his coding was too complicated. I was too frustrated to love that thing anymore. Agro was a great friend! But Agro and the Wanderer weren’t always needed for every puzzle, and Agro only had a few commands to follow and places to be. If a game were to be more focused on the aspect of a boy and his dog, then it needs more than escaping a tower together, and cramped hallways with noxious gas and ghostly, grabby armor. It needed more emotion, and perhaps Trico needed to be scaled down a bit. The relationship between them needed more focus on the build up- which it had, in the beginning- from it trying to eat us, to us on its back while we’re charging at full speed, doing sweep attacks, with a crowd of enemies. I didn’t feel Trico’s motivation.
And so between the two, I felt more emotionally connected to Connor, Marcus, and Kara, than a supernatural creature. And I was supposed to! I was supposed to cry for Trico, fight for him, love him, and play with him numerous times through, but I couldn’t. All I could see was the “puzzle” to solve in order to advance.