After ten years of on-and-off development, The Last Guardian finally rears its head this Friday. The PS4-exclusive adventure, from the creative mind behind ICO and The Shadow of the Colossus, was even feared cancelled at one point.
With the game’s history mind, it’s no surprise to find that there are more than a few technical shortcomings present. The camera, controls, framerate, and AI of Trico – your very own colossi – came under fire from critics. Some could easily overlook such problems, claiming that as an overall experience it’s nothing short of spectacular, but others found it to be stuck in the past. A few critics were simply glad that they’re able to play the blessed thing, no matter how dated it may feel at times.
It’s widely stated that it’s the weakest of Ueda’s creations, but even so, it’s still a phenomenal experience – one of those rare games that reminds us how powerful games can be.
We’ve rounded up as many reviews as possible to provide a decent range:
Essential – Eurogamer: “A wonder of animation and AI smoke-and-mirrors, the beast in The Last Guardian is primarily a masterpiece of observation”
10/10 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “If there were ever a game that was deserving of the word ‘perfect,’ The Last Guardian is it”
5/5 – The Guardian: “Here is an exquisite gem, the brightest in Ueda’s enviable clutch”
5/5 – The Daily Dot: “Imagining the missteps the game could have taken if released in an unpolished rush is easy, but bickering about the build-up to The Last Guardian’s release will be long outlived by its success as an emotionally evocative masterpiece in the annals of modern gaming”
5/5 – Time: “It feels momentous, a design breakthrough I wasn’t expecting, and an experience that seems more likely to stand the test of time than others we like to point to”
5/5 – Digitally Downloaded: “It may well end up being more divisive than Ueda’s previous masterpieces, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a masterpiece, from one of the industry’s true auteurs. Play this game. Even if you hate it, it’s going to broaden your horizons around what games are truly capable of”
9/10 – VideoGamer: “In truth Trico’s guidance issues are one of quite a few annoyances in The Last Guardian. The camera has some BIG problems, there are numerous glitches (I got stuck within a wall twice), character movement across obstacles isn’t nearly as smooth as it should be, and the frame rate tanked on a number of occasions. But I don’t care. It’s not so much that my love is blind (or even partially sighted). I’ll just choose this kind of in-game affection over pixel perfect gameplay mechanics every single time”
9/10 – GameSpot: “The resulting shift to PlayStation 4 has obviously paid off–troubled moments aside, your journey is dominated by awe-inspiring architecture and natural wonder”
4.5/5 – GamesRadar: “The Last Guardian is a fulfilling and emotional adventure, and while framerate problems must deny it the full five stars, but there is nothing else like Trico in games”
85/100 – VentureBeat: “The final product doesn’t feel like a 2016 game. Instead, it’s this strange adventure that invites you to get lost in its world. I love that, and I think anyone who loved Team Ico’s previous games will appreciate what they find here”
8.5 – Destructoid: “Like Team Ico’s past work, talking about The Last Guardian too much inherently drifts into spoiler territory, but we have years to unpack this. For now, I’m confident in saying that although it isn’t their best work, there really aren’t too many directors out there like Fumito Ueda, and I hope for our sake, he continues making games”
4/5 – US Gamer: “Playing The Last Guardian reminds me a lot of playing Half-Life games: The actual moment-to-moment of working my way through the game involves an enormous amount of frustration and annoyance… but when I look back at it, all I see are the happy memories of the experience”
8/10 – The Metro: “Not quite up to the same standards of its predecessors, but this is still an emotionally draining and beautifully realised story of friendship against the odds”
8.0 – GameInformer: “The Last Guardian forges a connection between the player and Trico unlike anything else in gaming. You need to experience it, despite its problems in other areas”
7.5 – Polygon: “In its best moments, The Last Guardian pulls off feats that could only be done on modern hardware; at its weakest, it’s not just “like a PlayStation 2 game,” but like a particularly rough, unpolished PlayStation 2 game, one that recalls the legacy of its forebears, but can’t quite recreate it”
7.5 – EGM: “A heartwarming story, a mysterious world, and a slowly-growing bond between two unlikely companions ensure that fans of Team Ico’s past work won’t be disappointed. Clunky controls and a handful of graphical issues, however, mean that The Last Guardian may not be an enjoyable game for everyone—though, either way, Trico is adorable”
7.0 – IGN: “The divide between the highs and lows of The Last Guardian is staggering. For every wonderful moment of absolute beauty and emotional attachment to its lifelike companion, there’s an equal and opposite baffling moment that ruins the mood with frustrating controls and camera angles”
6.5 – The Jimquisition: “The Last Guardian is a game of its time, but sadly that time was ten years ago. With its cumbersome controls, clueless companion behavior, and archaic design sensibilities, it’s tough to appreciate for all but those who think nothing of the advances made in games since Shadow of the Colossus first arrived”
6.5 – God is a Geek: “The world is stunning, the bond between the boy and Trico is a beautiful example of love and friendship, and the story is gripping, it’s just a shame there are so many technical issues holding it back”
3/5 – Slant Magazine: “Figuring out The Last Guardian’s puzzles—like the one in which a broken wheelbarrow must be used as a makeshift catapult—isn’t nearly as difficult as getting Trico to cooperate”
The Last Guardian is out tomorrow in the US and launches Friday in the UK. As such, it’s probably best to stay away from Twitch – and maybe even Twitter – if you’re trying to avoid spoilers.