If you would have asked me a year ago if Team Ico’s long-anticipated The Last Guardian would be showing up on my Game of the Year list, I’d have responded with a reactionary chuckle, followed by something along the lines of, “You’ve got to be kidding, right?” As it turns out, life isn’t always that predictable. Following nearly a decade in development, The Last Guardian is not only one of 2016’s best games, but is one of the most memorable games this entire generation. Coated in an infectious sense of mystery, The Last Guardian presents itself with a mature confidence that subtly reveals a deep narrative and magnificent world. Executed with tight, compact pacing and intriguing, believable level design, Fumito Ueda’s latest is a wonderful demonstration of meticulous artistry. Both in a visual and emotional sense, Team Ico has crafted an experience that feels nuanced and meaningful, thanks to what is one of the most impressive and impactful relationships the medium of games has ever portrayed.The Last Guardian is an imperfect game, oftentimes battling pervasive framerate issues and occasionally stiff controls. However even for as bothersome as these flaws can be in the moment–sometimes going as far as breaking the otherwise immaculate immersion–the overall adventure and lasting impression of the young boy and Trico’s unlikely bond is strong enough to outweigh almost all of the project’s less favorable moments. It’s a rare and praiseworthy achievement, one that speaks volumes to the strengths of the game’s ideas and sagacious storytelling sensibilities. The more time I’ve spent removed from the game, the more I’ve come to appreciate all its accomplishments. It can undoubtedly be a hard game to love, but when it puts its best foot forward, it can be difficult not to stand in awe of what the project does right. My intent isn’t to sound overly sensational when I say The Last Guardian is a truly special game, but there’s simply no better way to put it. Team Ico has carefully and cleverly constructed one of the most emotionally resonant, surprising, and utterly breathtaking games I’ve ever had the privilege to complete. In spite of a collection of unavoidable technical annoyances, The Last Guardian is a touching and elegantly produced reminder of the unique narrative potential video games hold. There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll be talking about The Last Guardian for decades to come.
Excerpt from podcast (BS W/ Braxton Ep. 10):
Note: Check back every day for new entries & updates in my personal GOTY 2016 roster…
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