Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Last Straw

As I may have mentioned before, Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favourite computer games ever. When the team behind that announced a follow-up, The Last Guardian, in which the giant-thing-on-which-you-can-climb is a friend rather than a foe -- although the Colossi aren't enemies as such, but that's a bit of a spoiler -- I knew I had to have it.

I waited, and then it was announced it would not be coming out on PlayStation 2, but rather the upcoming PlayStation 3.

I bought a PS3 for the sole purpose of playing TLG. I waited.

It was delayed so long that the PS3 release was cancelled and it would instead be released on PS4. In the mean time I had found other games to play, so purchasing a PS3 wasn't a total waste.

I was lucky enough to win a PS4 in a competition, and so I waited.

The game was released! I got it! I... got busy and distracted and didn't play it.

I got a PS5. Just last week a gap appeared in my life and I, at long last, booted up The Last Guardian.

I didn't like it much.

Oh dear.

It's not bad. It's fine. It looks amazing, most of the time, the music is beautiful, and the central gameplay idea is very clever; your big furry buddy Trico does feel like a real creature and the way you interact with it in order to progress through the game is for the most part well-implemented. I also have to give the designers considerable credit for basing a game around collaboration rather than combat; it reminds me of the sort of quasi-puzzle games you'd get in the Amiga days, and in fact I'm sure there was a game of that era which had a similar pet-and-puzzles premise, but I am old and fuzzy now and I don't remember.


The controls are borderline terrible. There's an attempt to go minimalist and simple, and the controls are context sensitive to an extent, but recognition of the context is a bit wonky, so you may be trying to walk along a platform but instead find yourself bouncing off a wall. The camera automatically rotates to point at Trico, which is a lovely touch except if you're trying to line up a precise jump. Basic movement seems to go from a single tentative step to a flat out sprint, with nothing in between, which again is not much good when you're hopping about hundreds of metres from the ground. Trico doesn't always do what you want it to do, which is fine because it's part of the central concept of working with a wild beast, but you'd expect your actual playing piece to respond to the buttons you're pushing, given that precise movement is such a big part of the gameplay.

The game also has a habit of taking control away to show off the more dramatic jumps, which I suppose on the plus side means you're not wrestling with the controls. In fairness these cut scenes are impressive, but would probably have been more fun if I'd been allowed to be involved.

I finished the game but I didn't complete it -- there are secrets to unlock -- and long before the end I knew I would probably never play it again. It would make a wonderful animated film but as a game it's a huge disappointment. I wonder if I just waited too long. Maybe it could never live up to my expectations.

Arbitrary score: PS3 out of PS5

Here you go, you can watch the beautiful production and my less beautiful struggles with the wonky gameplay:


  1. I actually just bought this not long ago. I've only played as far as the part where you and Trico drop into the sort of cage thing and Trico goes berserk (the first time, as I assume this will be a recurring issue.) The controls haven't screwed me over too bad so far. Guess I have that to look forward to.

    1. It's 70% fine, but the other 30% is infuriating beyond all measure.