The Last Guardian is a successful achievement in emotive and interactive storytelling, and my first few hours of playing were filled with wonderment. To observe how Trico, your half-bird/half-dog hybrid, animates and reacts to their environment is a beautiful moment to witness. The bond shared between these two companions is an accolade we haven't experienced since playing The Last of Us, in 2013.
Technically ambitious - its core mechanics are often neglected, and left as a second priority.
Where it excels visually and narratively, hinderance lies heavily on the game's controls. Clambering onto Trico's back during combat, being thrust in numerous directions in the process, needs the support of reliably stable camera controls, but they just aren't there. It often feels so technically ambitious that it comes at the cost of core mechanics, seeing them become a secondary citizen and the experience suffer for it.
Breathtaking moments were often sullied by lazy and inaccurate camera design, which inhibited our ability to focus on the action. One pivotal moment towards the end relied upon quick response times, but we were unfortunately met with bouts of terrible frame drop, resulting in some real frustration during an inopportune period. It was particularly disappointing considering the game had so far executed some fantastic cinematic set pieces without similar issues.
The Last Guardian strikes an interesting artistic merit as well, providing a unique mix of anime and Western 'triple-A' gaming. The world is shrouded in mystery and symbolism, and because of this, it feels compelling to discover its secrets, as well as uncover your own. The attention to detail on elements like the flicker of Trico's ears, which are receptive to his emotional responses, resemble that of a of real-life animal, and is a huge technical accomplishment. We cherished watching Trico bathe in pools, yawn and make himself comfortable, and use his claws to softly and playfully suggest the answer to the next part of a puzzle.
A marvel of interactive storytelling.
A treasurable experience.
It’s been a long 8 years of speculation, curiosity and excitement. After the 15 hours it took to complete its story, we're left feeling both profoundly moved and saddened at the thought that our time with Trico has reached its end. In The Last Guardian's greatest moments, it’s confident while sensitive approach to storytelling makes for an emotive and treasurable experience. At its weakest, sticky and lethargic camera controls disturb an otherwise beautiful story-driven experience.
Despite this, The Last Guardian is a game that should be experienced by all players. On a personal note; it's comfortably my personal Game of the Year.