The Last Guardian - A polarizing game that made me experience deep fiery hate as well as uplifting positive love

I had no real interest in The Last Guardian. It was announced, looked neat, but the premise came more from the fact that it was another Fumito Ueda who had apparently made other masterpieces such as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Two games I also had no interest in and never played.

"What? You want me to jump where? There? Here? Over where? Up? Down? Over there? Okay I'll turn around and go back the way we came" - Trico, probably

Eventually the game became more of a meme than anything, with constantly delays and actual years going by with no information about the games progress. People lost hope that it would ever release. I know I did. But the meme died when they actually-no-really-I-mean-it-this-time-you-guys announced a real release date and, bah god, it came out!

The game was now real. I, having no interest in it, let it pass me by. I heard it got some good reviews, people seemed into it barring a few issues with the game. Oh boy, it was actually good, I thought to myself. And life went on. And so did boredom. And that's when I Gamefly'd the game to finally get my hands on it.

I still had no interest in the game, but figured I might as well alleviate some boredom and finally play a game I honestly had thought for sure would get canceled. And what I found was very interesting.

I hated it

At first. And third. And fifth. And seventh. I hated the game in odd amounts because I also loved it equally. But not at the same time. My first exposure to the game and I really liked how it looked. I loved the style of The Boy and Trico and everything had such an amazing style to it. Once you get out of the cave with Trico and start to explore the world, it's mesmerizing.

But I hated it. There were times, and this was intended as per the developers own words, that Trico wouldn't follow my commands, as it's more realistic. After all, I have a dog and he only sometimes listens to me. And I respect that. It's not my place to say what the developers should have done, even though I'm a hypocrite and I totally have done that in the past and I totally will do that in the future. But you know what I mean.

There was one occasion where Trico went goddamn catatonic on me. We were in a cave and I figured out a particular puzzle and was relying on Trico to jump into the water, causing a massive wave in the water that would lift me up and place me on the platform that was just too far out of reach. But Trico had decided that he wanted to just sit down in the cave and do nothing. I made every command, I tried petting him, I tried jumping on him, pressing square to "push" at him. And he just sat there. I knew that this game was from a highly revered mind in the video game industry so I made a clear mental note that I have to stick with this, if I don't get it, there's probably something wrong with me.

I mean people swear by SotC and Ico, so it's not a fluke. Maybe this was intended? Maybe this was hard coded into the game in order to make me feel emotions, attuning myself and The Boy together, becoming one temporary being that transcends the physical realm and into the digital world. More so than any VR game am I now immersed in this world, feeling the anger and helplessness of The Boy as Trico just sits and stares at the fucking wall. Right!? Well no. After spending 5 minutes of Trico remaining motionless I was pretty sure I'd found a glitch. So I restarted from the checkpoint and spent less than a minute getting Trico to do what I wanted, and then solved the puzzle.

Something like that happened to me several times in the game. I was pretty sure that I was aware of the moments in the game where Trico fucks off to do his own thing for a little bit, as he does wander around and explore not too far away from you. And for the record, Trico is a video game marvel with his size, depth, and realism. But, trying to determine which moments are Trico simulating being a real, inquisitive creature versus a glitch that makes me spend 5 minutes appreciating something that doesn't exist. And that fucking sucked.

To be entirely blunt, for the first hour or two in the game the only thought I had was "Boy I hope this game is short". I just wanted it to be over. It's an usual thought for me as if I don't like a game I just send it back, as I am rarely able to purchase them, and get another one within a week. But this game is different because it's a part of a legacy that I was determined, now that I have it, to experience for myself. Start to finish. And eventually, I discovered something strange.

I loved it.

The moments that are good in this game are really, really good. As much as I betray the integrity and beauty of this game with my mocking tone, there were moments that I genuinely loved. The highs and lows that bring me up and feel so triumphant before plummeting into a hopeless abyss of emotions, was a memorable experience. I felt like my disdain for Trico was beginning to wain and and a bond was beginning to forge. I don't know why The Boy was here, or where Trico came from, but a deep connection began to grow.

The story of the survival between T.B. and Trico was a thing of beauty. The way Trico emotes and behaves during certain sections of the game was surprisingly emotional for me. There was a standout moment that happened where Trico wouldn't move unless I found him a barrel of blue glowy stuff that he likes to eat. As I was positioning around to feed my beast, my dog was off to my right, peering into my soul with his big puppy-dog eyes as he desperately tried to get my attention so I could give him some crackers that were sitting beside me. In the end both dog-things were fed, and the journey continued.

But as the journey continued I had come to an all too familiar feeling.

I hated it. Again.

I don't know how to explain this one. Or maybe I already did. It was this nagging feeling that, while I liked a lot of the game and certainly had grievances with other parts, I just... didn't dig it. There was a lot of trial and error and failing and Trico knocking me off of fucking ledges and for some reason taking 10 minutes to understand where I want him to go, and then turning around half way and going backwards, prompting me to have to backtrack needlessly.

The game has a certain degree of precision when the action begins, where, it plays with your expectations. Usually I found myself being surprised by the set pieces, as they were the stakes were often heightened. At times I found myself at the mercy of the enemies that appeared while Trico was somewhere else like behind a gate that you have to figure a way to open while also avoiding capture. The tension ramps up, Trico starts stirring up a storm by slamming on gates and shit, and then you have to worry about dodging these entities. It all adds up and makes for a really fun sequence, and I found myself in the same whirlwind of emotions.

((Editors Note: I almost forgot to point out something quite important. I play on a Playstation 4 Amateur, and as a result the frame rate is absolutely bad for a lot of the game. Some points of the game run like a slideshow, while most of the game is in a "rough" state. With the kind of lag that occurs from a bad frame rate, a lot of sections in the game were quite miserable to play. While the game looks beautiful, the bad frame rate made playing much of it a chore.))

I loved it. Again.

It was all quite strange. I don't think I've played a game so polarizing to myself before. Some games I dislike until I enjoyed them, like the first Resident Evil: Revelations. I was about ready to quit that game until I got halfway through at which point something clicked mentally and I fell in love with that game. But upon completing The Last Guardian, I felt a sense of elation. I did enjoy the ending and found the story, as abstract as it was, to be really interesting. But my elation wasn't necessarily due to seeing the story out, it was a relief that I don't have to play this game anymore.

Final Thoughts(Who am I, Jerry Springer?)

I enjoyed the game in some weird way. Or maybe it's better to say I appreciated it. I understand what it's going for and I, even if I didn't really care for the game. It's like me and The Boy really did become one, fighting to stay alive in a strange and alien environment, relying on your big friend Trico to slap you off ledges and constantly ignore your directions, but also to love you, and save your life. Maybe in this example, The Last Guardian is the best game.

As always, take care of yourself, and each other.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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