It’s been a long time coming, but at E3 2015, Team Ico fans finally got to see more of their latest project, The Last Guardian. While it wasn’t playable on the show floor room this year, those that attended the event had the opportunity to see additional gameplay beyond what was shown at Sony’s press conference in a private theater.
It’s difficult to suss out exactly how gameplay works without actually being able to go hands-on. It also doesn’t help that The Last Guardian is so distractingly gorgeous. However, the additional footage gave some more clues as to how The Last Guardian actually plays.
Players control a young boy that gives commands to its large condor-like companion named Trico. The boy, although agile, is small and doesn’t have the ability to traverse certain areas of the large ruins that they occupy. That’s where Trico comes in. Instead of controlling Trico directly, the boy must give commands to get Trico to do what he needs it to do.
However, as anyone that has tried to train a dog before could tell you, getting an animal to do what you want it to do isn’t always easy. Oftentimes, the boy had to use multiple commands before Trico understood exactly what was needed of it. The show floor demo showed the boy using some kind of treat contained in a barrel (unless Trico just really likes the taste of wood), to help motivate Trico to do what he needed to do. Trico also seemed to enjoy some good old fashioned petting.
When the boy isn’t bossing Trico around, he’s helping to move things along. For example, while Trico is trying to climb up a building help the boy advance up it himself, he rolls a log over to help Trico get his grip. Also, the show floor video demonstrated the boy using Trico’s body as a ladder to get up over a large gated door and then hitting a lever to help Trico get through.
Details about the story are still scarce, but the show floor video did show a little bit more on the relationship between the boy and Trico. When we are first introduced to the two, Trico is impaled with nails that the boy has to remove for him, seemingly to help get Trico to trust him. Also, there were moments where both the boy and Trico looked either frustrated with each other, disagreed, or perhaps just misunderstood each other. Whether or not that impacts the gameplay or is just cosmetic is unknown.
Based on what we have seen so far, The Last Guardian gameplay is about taking advantage of both the boy and Trico’s size and abilities to solve puzzles and advance through the ruins. What looks to be the difference between The Last Guardian and other similar games is that the dynamic between Trico and the boy isn’t set in stone. Just because players command Trico to do something doesn’t mean that he’ll do it. Players will have to find ways to work around Trico’s animal instinct to get the job done.
It’s too early right now to say definitively if The Last Guardian is shaping up to be a good game or not, but based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s definitely beautiful, intriguing, and is looking for ways to deliver a unique experience to players.