The Last Guardian is this year’s perfect game

Fumito Ueda’s latest work emotes in a way few are able to imagine. It’s the ideal way to end a great year in gaming.

   The Last Guardian   (genDESIGN, SIE Japan Studio)

The Last Guardian (genDESIGN, SIE Japan Studio)

I wasn’t intending to write a review about the Last Guardian. I wasn’t even sure how to go about playing it. I noticed my hands twitching nervously, reaching for the shoulder buttons on the controller whilst the game finished installing. And then, I hit play.

When a game has been in development for almost a decade, expectations can be set somewhere beyond the stratosphere by many observers. After all, this was Fumito Ueda’s third game as director, with previous efforts Ico and Shadow of the Colossus always mentioned in any list discussing the best games ever made.

The story follows an unnamed boy, waking up with no recollection of how he ended up next to a giant, sleeping, bird-like animal named Trico. We must use Trico’s instincts and our own discoveries of the surrounding environment to escape from this world of hidden caves and dangerous platforms.

Guardian follows the same spirit as Ico and Colossus, carrying dream-like visuals and quiet sounds that set the atmosphere perfectly. And it’s all 100 per cent minimal. That’s what makes the game such an astonishing achievement.

 (genDESIGN, SIE Japan Studio)

(genDESIGN, SIE Japan Studio)

The lush, unique environments are detailed and contain enough of the few visual cues required to guide you through each impasse you encounter. The magic of the game ends up with how you see yourself falling in love with this mysterious world and appreciating the help of the irritable yet amiable Trico. You’re also helped by a mysterious shield-like mirror and narration from an older voice, telling us this story is being shared as a flashback.

There’s no question the Last Guardian is an instant classic and one of the finest games you could ever play. I realised this within 15 minutes of starting it. And it’s surprising to hear Uedo confess to not being a perfectionistdespite producing three truly perfect games.

Yet the achievement lies beyond the moments you’re playing the game, as I ended up imagining what was happening in this new, imaginative world of the unnamed boy and Trico. It’s like Ueda says of his accomplishments: “It feels like a dream, often. It’s unreal.”