Posting from Tintagel

The Last Guardian - world by Trico

June 25, 2017 | 5 Minute Read

The Last Guardian stands for the story about the universe where Trico exist, the most adorable beast creature I’ve ever seen, the resident of world full of Tricos.

The mechanics of that animal/creature are incredibly realistic - Trico scratches itself, rolls around and splashes, shakes off, cozies up and so on, randomly. It lives its own life all the time - howling, growling to another beast or becoming aggressive to protect you as its human-friend (you should calm it after that, it’s an interesting experience).

The plot is as simple as possible - you’re somewhere and must do something, to escape. The ‘problem’ is that it’s all you know. The boy (you) speaks an untypical language which makes the commands unreadable, even if instinctively understandable. Trico communicates visually and verbally in its animal style. The common goal is to establish the human-animal communication. The challenge is teamwork - if you wish Trico can take you up, break what you want to be broken, attack an enemy with its paw/claws, dive in or even try to ram the door with its head. Your job/task is to communicate. The next level is to trust.

TLG won me over with completing all aspects.

  • fantasy / ancient magic / fairy tale climate

They are everywhere, like an aura. Even the language which the Boy, narrator, village people are speaking is special.
Each language was made by my team and myself using a conversion tool. The three use a similar conversion tool, but they are not identical. I designed the boy’s tattoos and the spells that the enemy releases in The Last Guardian. /According to Fumito Ueda himself/[1]

  • animal behavior study / training practice

You’re learning and training - the beast likes to be petted (social reward or just social contact on which it insists sometimes), can sit or lay down for a while, back off and so on. Besides, it understands what it is to target (natural gesture, pointing on something or somewhere) and has a perfect recall, it also seems to be a fan of food reward (food motivated). Finally, it is your guard - by its own and on attack command. TLG means a paradise for an animal behaviorist, dog trainer/horse trainer, especially for a reward-based training enthusiast. The most joyful aspect is that Trico really wants to understand your intentions or communicate something to you (team work).
By designing Trico not around fantasy characters that you’d see in video games or movies, but by animals we commonly see, I suspected that it would give the creature both an unpredictable quality and a sense of familiarity. /Quoting Fumito Ueda again/[1]

  • wildlife background / large predator appearance

I always was into dragons and other mythical creatures. The Inheritance Cycle is still on the top of my bookshelf. Trico is something like a griffin - a form of fusion between a giant mammal and a bird.

  • ecology spirit

An ecosystem, cooperation, food chain, predation, environment - all of those important elements, the bricks building the nature, are defined by TLG story-line if you look at it more closely. They’re taking you back into the reality. There, the human - wildlife conflict is a fact.

  • adventure, survival and most of all - exploration

Throughout my first play-through I was absorbed by sightseeing. The game architecture gives so many possibilities and seem to be a never-ending challenge.
The game resembles Bloodborne with how much importance is put on exploration as a main game mechanic and a mean to pace progression.[2]
Interestingly, Team Ico is a part of SIE Japan Studio, responsible also for Bloodborne.

  • the lack of words No words needed.

The Last Guardian was created by Team Ico and Fumito Ueda - director, lead game/character designer and animator. Before The Last Guardian they released Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, both of them gained critical acclaim and their own fans.

What makes TLG so original.

  • Achievements are not so easy to reach.

My very first achievement in the game was at once Gold - “The Call of Nature” and it was nothing related to procreation - and it was my one and only achievement on my first play-through.

  • Hints or maybe no hints at all seem to appear frequently by the narrator’s story telling as a part of retrospection.

As a beginner I had a strange feeling that it liked to happen when you’re trying to do something ridiculous for some time and even Trico is upset/confused by my strange behavior, and yet they appeared always on time.

  • Unusual loading screen - you must operate to come back to life in the game.

It’s impressive how well loading screens are hidden from the player, the only obvious ones seem to be the floating symbols one has to quickly click off. Additionally the creatures behavior was impressive and well modeled (both in animation and reactions to player behavior). It’s also nice how they managed to present high heights in a convincing way.[2]

  • No maps - indeed. You’re solving the puzzle without any maps.
  • majestic OST, including sounds of nature - birds, wind or just a silence.

The game is beautiful in its otherness. The adventure was a frustration pleasure. Above all, The Last Guardian was a real challenge for my clinical fear of heights, but it’s going to be the first game I can say that I fell in love with. Deeply.

[1] TLG creator interview
[2] Asking my husband