The Last Guardian redux

So yeah, I’ve been playing more video games during this global pandemic, remote teaching, constant fires, nihilistic political world we’re in.

Recently, I played the 2018 remake of Shadow of the Colossus. I was mildly disappointed by it. For one, I just don’t think you can ever recapture the wonder of the first playthrough of the game. But I also didn’t like parts of the graphics, especially the faces. The rocks and sky were amazing, however. And maybe I’m just letting time put a nostalgic halo on my memories, but it really felt like the camera and controls were worse than in the original.

So that took me back to The Last Guardian, the game I bought the PS4 for. I was also originally disappointed by this game (as I wrote about before). Looking back though, part of that was due to the years and years of expectation. Well, now that I’ve let that go and am also playing this game in a world of social distancing, my feelings for the game have gotten much warmer.

What really got to me this time was Trico and the relationship that develops between this creature and the boy whom you play. It just struck me how incredibly detailed and realized Trico is. His movement, his sounds, all of it just bring a sense of life to the game. Often I would switch off the game, pet my own dog, and see the similarity in his reactions to those of Trico. It was uncanny. And then there is the bond that develops between Trico and the boy and the fact that the game lets you accentuate that bond by having a command that allows you to pet and stroke Trico. Again, maybe it’s due to social distancing, but this felt warm and life-affirming.

The other thing that stuck out to me this time was how much this game is about letting yourself ask for help. So many times in this playthrough, I tried to get my character to free himself from situations on his own. I would try and try, and start to get frustrated. Then I would remember and call Trico. And the big dog-bird-cat would come over and release me from my hard-headed obsession with self-reliance. And again, maybe it’s the time we’re in, but this felt right, like a lesson that I needed to learn.

Also, looking over my previous review, I made a mistake about the controls. I thought that you had to hold the triangle button down to hold on. Maybe I made this mistake because I was coming out of Shadow of the Colossus where grip is everything, but as it turns out, holding is automatic in The Last Guardian. The boy does it any time he’s near something that he can latch onto. So I didn’t find the controls quite so frustrating this time around. They are still not always perfect and the camera is often annoying in tight hallways (though not as much in the Shadow of the Colossus remake). Still, I wanted to append my previous critique.

So overall, I like this game much better. It has its faults, sure, but it’s a wonderfully realized world with an incredible companion that you get to snuggle. Such a great game choice in this pandemic world.

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