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The Last Guardian: Should You Play It?

I have been a PlayStation fan for many years. The reason? Sony continue to hold a fantastically broad library of exclucives that make me want to keep pouring my hard earned cash into the system. Each generation brings with it some great new experiences and this generation is no exception. The problem though, is that The Last Guardian was supposed to be an exclusive for PS3 - let's not get into the lengthy development history - and to be honest it really does show. 

To clarify, before I get started I really do like the game but there are fundamental flaws with it that really shouldn't exist. Games have bugs because game development is freaking hard, thanks to the ability to patch via the internet some games now come out with game breaking bugs that truly hinder the experience until that patch is provided. This is unfortunately the modern day gaming experience; it sucks but it’s reality. 

The problem with The Last Guardian though is not going to have a quick fix, even after the minimal day one patch I'm sceptical to whether we'll see another. Why is this? Well combine the extended development turmoil, the likely extensive costs raised and the likely morale of the team behind it and post launch support could be minimal. It would be fascinating to hear exactly went down, because somewhere throughout it's development the game got stuck and I don’t think it was ever fully able to overcome its obstacles.

The Last Guardian looks incredible!
This game could have been a perfect 10 for me, its so damn good in places. The way that you interact with Trico (your bird/dog/griffin type companion) is wonderful, I have never seen anything like it in a game. The way the game makes you feel in moments of triumph or the little things that you can to to further your bond with Trico is staggering. When I am separated from Trico or when he gets hurt, my heart bleeds, it’s that good. The pacing of the game and the overall gameplay is everything I look for in a solo story driven game but as good as all this is, it's also the gameplay that lets it down. 

The game feels very similar to Tomb Raider 1/2 (in a good way), you have to solve puzzles to advance the story and a lot of the game is opening gates and traversing the world from point A to B, which all feels great. The main issue though is Trico, the puzzles rely very heavily on Trico lifting you places or jumping to a new area etc, in short you have to make him do stuff but sometimes he just wont do what you tell him to. 

Sometimes you will be ready to advance looking at the exit or area to go next but stuck simply because Trico will just not cooperate, it is a huge issue and one that I feel is inexcusable given the long development and presumably QA time. The actual control scheme feels like it hasn't been touched since the PS3 days of it's development too. The controls feel completely off, are very old school, and sometimes make things very difficult. There were times where I would be trying to climb up Trico but fall off, or the camera would get stuck in a wall and block the view.

Sadly, It’s such a hard game to recommend, but to be honest I think the highs outweigh the lows for me. You just have to get though the game and forgive it, even if this is particularly difficult considering this game had so much time to be refined and Sony really shouldn't have re-introduced it before it was totally ready. This should be a learning curve for Sony, to ensure their exclusives are top notch - as they regularly are - when a history of development difficulty has been present. It’s a real shame this game could not shine, it had so much to live up to and to be honest all it’s mistakes could have been solved because the game at it's core is incredible, there is a perfect game underneath all the tech problems and that for me is a tragedy.

Jake Buchanan | @hdd_heart

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