The Last Guardian Catch-All

The detail differences wouldn't bother me but those framerate dips would. I have a backlog so I'm hoping they can patch some of that out by the time I get around to this.

Higgledy wrote:
Orphu wrote:

Count me as one that overlooks the minor issues in Ico and SotC and quite enjoys what these games had to offer. Looking forward to tomorrow.

I tried playing SotC and just couldn't stand how it controlled. I'd love to play this game but I'm wary.

I've put a couple hours into it. The camera and controls are as wonky as Ico and SotC. If that matters to you, and kills the experience, then you won't do any better here.

I'm loving it so far.

Holy cow. That's a big statue of Trico with the collector edition.

Well, I played around 45-60 minutes, and I can say that while the controls are a bit janky, the camera and controls are way better than Ico and SotC. I played Ico HD fairly recently, so I'm familiar with just how janky that game was (it was really janky). I kind of expected the game to feel like a PS2 game with better textures, but it definitely doesn't feel like that. It seems to be its own beast. I was actually afraid there were going to be fixed camera angles in this game. Just having a free camera makes a world of difference in how everything feels.

So far, it's everything I'd hoped for. I'm enjoying being delighted every few minutes. We'll see how long it takes for me to get frustrated with something.

Oh, and the framerate is a little rough in spots on a regular PS4 which is unfortunate, but it's totally playable, and I'm not going to go out and buy a PS4 Pro just yet.

I played a couple hours, and the camera kinda bugs me. It's sluggish and it seems like the game can't decide if wants you to treat it like a fixed camera, or if you're supposed to swing the camera around to look at things. Tight hallways especially are kinda rough. Nothing game breaking so far, though.

The puzzles so far are very "vague" in the sense that, except for climbable surfaces, not a lot is telegraphed at you as far as what you're supposed to do, or how to go about it. I suppose there's an aspect of learning the game's language that will hopefully become more apparent over time. There have been a few times where i've been exploring, trying to figure out what to do, then Trico just appears on his own and I can move on to the next area.

Trico is a marvel so far. The animation and behaviors are utterly convincing so far that this is a real animal with personality and moods of its own. I've already grown attached to it, and learning what it can do, and what i can do with it, is the highlight of the game so far.

beanman101283 wrote:

Tight hallways especially are kinda rough. Nothing game breaking so far, though.

Yeah, this is the roughest aspect to me so far. I've spent far too much time in tiny little hallways with a huge beast that barely fits. This doesn't do the camera any favors.

The puzzles so far are very "vague" in the sense that, except for climbable surfaces, not a lot is telegraphed at you as far as what you're supposed to do, or how to go about it. I suppose there's an aspect of learning the game's language that will hopefully become more apparent over time.

Same here. I've been stumped a few times. I've learned to pay close attention to the kid and Trico. In general they will look at particular objects or architecture that will lead you in the right direction. Usually I'll enter an area and just sit and watch Trico for a while and see what it does. (BTW, holding L2 will focus the camera on Trico). Only once so far has this lead me on a goose chase where I actually needed to go to another area and then come back to what Trico was fiddling with.

I got in about 4 hours last night. Didn't get frustrated with anything as I expected to, so that's great. It's just been a really awesome experience so far, and I've been surprised a couple times. Can't wait to finish.

I did about four-plus hours, too; I only got up to the section that was featured in the E3 2015 demo. I dearly love both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, and sadly I find this game to be far more frustrating. I haven't played either of its predecessors in the last 2-3 years (although I've played them both multiple times), but it certainly seems to me that the camera's worse here, especially when it's trying to maneuver around objects, including Trico. Sometimes it just gives up and fades to black - first time it did that, I thought the game had crashed.

Far more powerful hardware means the game can show you larger & more detailed vistas, but unfortunately it can be really hard to get the camera to point in a direction that you want it to, especially when that direction is not along the path you have to follow. I wish it had a VR mode that let you just stand in place and look around. Its painterly art design (which is as gorgeous as we expect from a Team ICO game) seems like it would work in VR reasonably well, but obviously the game has been in development since long before VR was even a glimmer in Palmer Luckey's eye.

More than the camera, though, I find the frustration is in the heart of the game, the giant bird-dog-cat monster Trico. This game is a continuation of Ueda's clear desire to have his games focus on a relationship with an NPC, and with each game he's tried to have that NPC exhibit more free will. Yorda was annoyingly helpless and usually wandered off on her own unless you were holding her hand, Agro was less helpless but still clearly had its own idea of what it wanted to do, and with Trico Ueda clearly wanted to present you with a fully independent creature. That's probably why the game was delayed so long, though: at times - regularly so, in fact - Trico seems not to want to play the game you're in. It's not helped by the fact that he gives you no immediate feedback to what you do - you're stuck wondering if he's ignoring your cajoling, didn't hear it, or you guessed wrong about what buttons to push to send the right exhortation. Even if you do manage to tell him to do the right thing, he may not give any indication of response for a minute or so. If I had any hair left, I'd now have less of it.

With all due respect, admiration and love for Ueda's work, this seems to me like a centrally-flawed game that's very much of a piece with his previous work. It's hard not to assume that this game took so long because everyone involved knew they hadn't gotten it work the way they envisioned. Eventually, though, they shipped it just so that they could move on. I'll still finish it, because I'm stubborn that way, but I'm already looking forward to getting back to Dishonored 2.

If you're an Ueda fan, it's probably still worth playing, albeit with lowered expectations. But I wouldn't be surprised if you give up partway through. We're currently awash in games that, while they may try to do less, succeed more.

I doubt it'll help much, but I did bump the camera sensitivity up a bit. Might help keep the camera from feeling sluggish.

Yeah, I bumped it all the way up, then after a while backed it down a little. It's still kind of fundamentally problematic. The fact that it's closer in than in previous games, and you're often in tight spaces or hemmed in by large objects (including one that follows you around) does it no favors.

I don't mean to sound overwhelmingly negative - the standard "overall opinion" way of talking about video games (or anything else) really breaks down when things have both tremendous highs and tremendous lows. Although, so far, I haven't really found the highs of ICO or Shadow in my four hours of play time. Even the usual stunning art direction and lighting wind up having elements of frustration because the camera doesn't want to show them to me.

I'm not regretting playing the game, I'm regretting that it isn't better. Oh well.

Evan E wrote:

I'm not regretting playing the game, I'm regretting that it isn't better. Oh well.

Well, I'm glad you're detailing your frustrations because I've been pretty positive and it's good to get some other opinions because there are definitely flaws and things you can point out. After playing ICO HD recently I was prepared for it to be so much worse. My patience and expectations are helping me overlook a lot, I'm guessing. For me, the biggest complaint I have is the framerate tanking in weird spots which just straight causes eye strain, and I have to blink frequently.

I got a ways past the E3 demo section and a bit into a fairly major mechanic. Mechanic spoiler:

Spoiler:

You form a tighter bond with Trico and can give him/her commands. I can definitely see people getting frustrated with this. I haven't quite figured out how to get Trico to reliably do what I want. I think that's the point, though, and I dig it. I'm getting better at it too, or the bond is getting better. Not really sure.

Probably most surprising for me is just how real the character feels. Trico is part pet, part giant wild animal, and I didn't really start to think about how that would make me feel all these years leading up to this game. It's fascinating and something I can't think of any other video game ever doing to me. So, just for that, I can already say Last Guardian is a must play despite all the jank and flaws you have to deal with. It's something you couldn't get in a let's play video at all which is interesting.

Orphu wrote:
Higgledy wrote:
Orphu wrote:

Count me as one that overlooks the minor issues in Ico and SotC and quite enjoys what these games had to offer. Looking forward to tomorrow.

I tried playing SotC and just couldn't stand how it controlled. I'd love to play this game but I'm wary.

I've put a couple hours into it. The camera and controls are as wonky as Ico and SotC. If that matters to you, and kills the experience, then you won't do any better here.

I'm loving it so far.

Ok thanks. I'll probably wait for the price to drop considerably. I'd love to be able to get into the game (or the previous games) but there is a real risk I'll bounce off it as much as I love the concept.

About 6ish hours in, I think I'm used to the camera, though it's certainly still not good. Still enjoying the game. One thing I like about Team Ico's games is how the puzzles are so naturalistic. Earlier I said they were "vague" in this game, which I guess is true, but I'm now in the rhythm of figuring out what I need to do by exploring the space and getting Trico to follow along. The "puzzley" puzzles stick out a bit since most of the time the game doesn't feel like your traditional puzzle game, even though at their core, that's what Team Ico's games are.

Still, you really have to be patient to play this game. It's not something you're going to beat in an evening, and you have to go in knowing that getting Trico to do what you want is going to take some time. So far, this hasn't been a problem for me since Trico's behaviors seem so real that I really feel like I'm dealing with a real animal instead of a video game companion character. Each player will likely feel differently about this, and it'll affect how much you do or don't enjoy the game.

My 5 year old saw a trailer for this game and is now obsessed. Would this be appropriate for a 5 yr old to watch?

SallyNasty wrote:

My 5 year old saw a trailer for this game and is now obsessed. Would this be appropriate for a 5 yr old to watch?

It's pretty intense, so it's hard for me to say. There are things like pulling spears out of Trico that look and feel horrible, but some of that is you the player having to do that. Trico can also get pretty nasty.

I will say that this made me want to show my 6 yr old nephew and 4 year old niece this game to see what they think regardless of if it's appropriate. I'll get my brother to oversee things.

Trico bleeds from wounds, though you can rub them away with your character. I don't know how harrowing a five year old would find the parts where you're running away from soldiers. When they pick you up, you have to frantically mash buttons in order to escape. I don't know the general direction of the plot yet, so I couldn't tell you if there are any scarier parts than i've encountered so far, but there are areas with a general sense of foreboding.

My 6 and 10 yr old are watching me play (and my 10 yr old has her own game profile). But I'm a bad parent.

I'll echo the above. Some of the violence on Trico is a bit graphic (blood, nasty sounds as you pull spears out). The "bad guys" are a fair bit creepy. Trico him/herself can be a bit nasty as well. Could be fuel for bad dreams for the little ones.

The Game Informer show talks about The Last Guardian (amongst other things):

Last night I spent almost forty-five minutes on Trico's back trying to coax him to go through a door too high for me to get to. He went back, he went sideways, he stared at walls, he leapt from pillar to pillar in exactly the wrong direction - anything but go through the damned door. At one point I leapt off his back, at which point he jumped up and through the door, leaving me behind.

Shortly before that I went through a sequence that was so un-fun (I expect other people will have similar feelings about the "hamster ball" sequence) that I followed it up with about a ten-minute period where I continuously leapt to my death because that was more fun than soldiering on with what the game wanted me to do.

I am now essentially hate-playing this game, because I'm that idiotically stubborn. And because you can see the game Ueda et al set out to make underneath all the failure-to-provide-enjoyment.

Orphu wrote:

My 6 and 10 yr old are watching me play (and my 10 yr old has her own game profile). But I'm a bad parent.

I'll echo the above. Some of the violence on Trico is a bit graphic (blood, nasty sounds as you pull spears out.

Just a PSA, you might want to seriously consider not playing the end sequence in front of them.

No spoilers follow, just my reaction to the tone.

Spoiler:

I YouTubed it as I was curious and will never be playing the game myself.

It was...bad.

Yikes. Thanks!

So, I think I'm really settling into this game. I've pretty much figured out the quirks of controlling Trico and he mostly does what I want. They do seem to be artificially improving his response to your character as the game progresses though. I guess trying to give you a sense of a building relationship.

I just figured out you can wipe away the blood and smooth out feathers if you pet Trico. (He'll even fall asleep!) So I went about making him all pretty again after he started looking pretty rough. Not sure if that makes any difference.

Last night was just so relaxing as I explored areas with my big dopey pet.

Orphu wrote:

Yikes. Thanks!

I just played it. Yeah, Aaron D. is putting it mildly. Definitely no kids towards the end.

Well. Damn. If you can deal with the mechanics, this game is a masterpiece. Personally, I had a few frustrating moments here and there, but I actually enjoyed all the game mechanics. I think the general mechanics and puzzles are much, much better than Ico and Shadow of the Colossus and far less frustrating. That moment I saw the very first trailer, I hoped for a masterpiece. Than after the years flew by, I just threw my expectations in a dumpster. I didn't expect this game to be so damn good.

I don't know where this is going to fall on my game of the year list. It's definitely in my top 3, but I'm not sure where it will fall given The Witness and Owlboy happened. Apparently 2016 was a sh** year for everything but video games. I'm definitely ordering the vinyl soundtrack now. I was waiting for the game to be a disappointment so I wouldn't spend the money. That didn't happen, and the soundtrack is just so good.

I think I'll write up a spoiler post later, but I want to let everything sink in. Oof.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

Well. Damn. If you can deal with the mechanics, this game is a masterpiece.

Glad to hear people are liking it so much. My copy just arrived, so I'm hoping to start this weekend.

Evan E wrote:

If you're an Ueda fan, it's probably still worth playing, albeit with lowered expectations. But I wouldn't be surprised if you give up partway through. We're currently awash in games that, while they may try to do less, succeed more. :(

I do really want to read your thoughts if you finish. I straight up dropped Shadow of the Colossus at the final boss because the controls were so frustrating. I eventually watched a YouTube video of the ending. So, I'm very familiar with the kind of feelings of game frustration you're talking about, and I don't give a pass on everything.

Wrapped it up this morning. They've really crafted an incredible experience. It's a shame the camera, and to a lesser extent the framerate, tarnish the experience so much. Trico is a stunning creation, and every developer who worked on getting that creature to feel believable and real should be proud. While of course after a while you start to see some repeated animations, or notice the sounds from it never really change, this is the best realized companion in any video game I've played. It's so easy to anthropomorphize game AI, but it did seem like I could learn read its moods and adjust my approach accordingly based on what I needed it to do.

Compared to reviewers at least, I seem to have gotten lucky, in that I never had a situation where I was waiting for minutes upon minutes for Trico to act. I certainly had to be patient with it, and there were times where it would do something directly contrary to what I wanted. But Trico never seemed frozen or completely uninterested in doing what I wanted.

There were two puzzles I had to look up the solution for. One, I had the right idea, but you had to be in a very specific spot for it to work. The other, near the end of the game, I had no idea what to do. Otherwise, the puzzles were all very well done. Exploring the areas and moving Trico from place to place had a nice rhythm to it, and there were times I had to force myself to stop. It had a "just one more room" feel to it.

Like Ico, the enemies were a tedious, stressful annoyance. They were mostly easy to avoid, but a few puzzles involving them were just aggravating.

Finally, some of the violence, especially at the end, was very intense. I certainly wouldn't want a small child watching it. If you're uncomfortable with animal violence, this also isn't the game for you.

beanman101283 wrote:

There were two puzzles I had to look up the solution for. One, I had the right idea, but you had to be in a very specific spot for it to work. The other, near the end of the game, I had no idea what to do. Otherwise, the puzzles were all very well done. Exploring the areas and moving Trico from place to place had a nice rhythm to it, and there were times I had to force myself to stop. It had a "just one more room" feel to it.

What were those two puzzles? I'm really curious. There were a few I got stuck on. I managed to figure everything out in the end, but I definitely was scratching my head a few times. Is the one you're talking about at the end:

Spoiler:

When you're in the antenna room with the spherical blob, and you have to mirror shield the blob smaller for awhile and then jump on the surrounding spherical grating and climb up? That had me stuck awhile and then I felt silly for not realizing that was what I was supposed to do. :)

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

What were those two puzzles?

Spoiler:

The first was the when you're pushing the vat of blue stuff, and fall through the floor into the water filled cave underneath. I figured I needed to pull the wooden crate into the water so I could have Trico somehow help me. Turned out I needed to pull the crate to the back right corner in order for him to lower his tail.

The second one was when you're using the mirror shield to raise the elevator, but the ceiling blocks your progress. I didn't realize I needed to drag Trico's tail to one of the holes on the elevator so I could climb down. I had looked down the holes and saw the emptiness below, and was unable to lower myself down, so I didn't think the holes were for anything.

The blob at the end took a few tries, but didn't hold me up long before I figured out what I needed to do. It did take me longer to realize I needed to use Trico's severed tail to zap it at the end.

beanman101283 wrote:

Finally, some of the violence, especially at the end, was very intense. I certainly wouldn't want a small child watching it. If you're uncomfortable with animal violence, this also isn't the game for you.

I have an important question about that, and please spoil as much as you need to in order to answer: is this violence that you inflict or violence you witness?

ClockworkHouse wrote:
beanman101283 wrote:

Finally, some of the violence, especially at the end, was very intense. I certainly wouldn't want a small child watching it. If you're uncomfortable with animal violence, this also isn't the game for you.

I have an important question about that, and please spoil as much as you need to in order to answer: is this violence that you inflict or violence you witness?

Spoiler:

It's animal on animal violence and the feelings of horror you experience are somewhat akin to watching a documentary of wolves taking down a caribou or lions taking down a wildabeast. There are lots of horrifying sounds too. You're witness to it, and trying to help for quite some time, and ultimately you are able to do something about it.

Actually, it's more like watching a video of wolves taking down your pet dog. It's really horrifying.

And in case you want further spoilers as to the whole "does anyone die" question:

Spoiler:

Trico and the boy both make it out okay in the end. Nothing about the whole thing feels all that cheap either, though.