Swimming between mystery and legend, the development cycle of The Last Guardian has been a very long one. But that journey is coming to an end and another one starts: we’ll be able to finally play it on October 26.
If you happen to be a follower of Fumito Ueda’s work and you enjoyed the minimalist yet epic stories proposed in ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, you probably screamed in excitement last year when The Last Guardian was confirmed for PlayStation 4. You probably sank then into a mild desolation as the title fell into the shadows during the next months. “Here we go once more. This is never happening”, you thought. And then shrieked again when Sony decided to bring it up during this E3. Don’t worry, you are not alone. I did it as well. As a matter of fact, rather loud.
Because it has been almost ten years since we know of the existence of The Last Guardian. And it’s only know that we find that our wait has come to an end. The game is arriving as a PlayStation 4 exclusive on October 26.
We have to admit it: expectations are very high on our end and we cannot wait to finally lay our hands on this title. In the meantime, and for the sake of celebrating this release date, here is a little recap on The Last Guardian’s journey, from inception to final closure.
The Perilous Journey of The Last Guardian
The almost mythical game started its development back in 2007. Shadow of the Colossus had launched two years before and guaranteed the continuation of Team ICO’s bright future. There was something about those seemly narratives, the puzzles, the almost absence of dialogue and those evocative environments, that did not go unnoticed. It simply worked. The endings left us wondering.
Team ICO and Fumito Ueda had created a style of their own and it seemed as if they wanted to combine the mechanics and core elements of their first two titles into the next one.
The Last Guardian was originally planned for PlayStation 3. But a period of wilderness followed the departure of Ueda from Sony Japan in December 2011. The project was then absent from all subsequent gaming conventions, giving the impression that the period of stagnation had culminated in final oblivion. The president of SCE Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, commented retrospectively that if it was not for the loyal presence and inquiries of the fans, Sony “would have probably” cancelled the whole game altogether. But they did not.
Sony’s E3 panel of 2015 showed a segment of gameplay, revamping the hope among the fans and the curious. Or maybe more than hope. The gameplay was finally showing more of the interactions between the young boy and Trico, the feathery companion, and it got us all emotional. It had all the elements the original trailer already teased: the hazy visuals, that vast solitude and the quest for epicness amidst the ruins of a forgotten castle. In other words, it was looking gorgeous and ready for next gen.
Little we knew, we had to keep on waiting.
In an interview with The Guardian, Fumito Ueda and his studio GenDesign (who still remained as creative consultants for the game) announced that there was a lot of work to be done. He was referring to that porting process from Last to Next Gen, which was probably a recurrent source of worry for everyone.
Would The Last Guardian keep its freshness after so many years in development? Was it too late to go for a revamp? Ueda did not think so. He confirmed that the porting was working well and rendering improved environments, textures and character dynamics.
Sony chose to show the same gameplay video during Gamescom 2015 while offering an interactive caged version of Trico during the Tokyo Games Show held back in September. The absence of the title from the Paris Games Week did not go unnoticed by the media and the questions kept on coming. Why was everyone being so secretive about this one? Could we get some more information about this legendary title, pretty please? Well, this E3 edition finally nail the full stop.
The Last Guardian – At Last!
Shuhei Yoshida has always maintained that showing too much of the game was not within their plans. That they wanted to respect the players’ immersion inside the story, which is heavy with narrative and emotions. While this has added up to the legend, truth is that The Last Guardian is probably not the kind of game you want to know much about. Each title of Ueda’s factory is an introspective journey that you want to enjoy on your own. In some aspects, it embodies a very Japanese variant of storytelling, relying less on resounding action and more on touching currents beneath the apparent.
We may be going a little bit over-subjective here but it has all the potential to become the next masterpiece of videogame minimalism. Those lucky ones who have already laid their hands on it confirm it.
The journey has been very long but our last guardian is ready to meet us. Only four months more to go…