The Last Guardian is one of those games that’s going to take a bit of discussion before the gaming public figures out where it fits in the grand scheme of things. It was in development for basically ever, our first story about the finished game noted concern, the review ultimately gave it a 7.5 and yet it was Polygon’s number 10 game of the year.
The latest episode of The Game Maker’s Toolkit discusses how the game develops the relationship between The Last Guardian’s lead human character and the giant cat-bird named “Trico,” and manages to do so through some very clever interactions that take a decent amount of time before they ultimately pay off.
And the challenge of pulling this off is pretty impossible to overstate. When you set out to create a character who seems to have a mind of its own and then make the player’s progress in the game reliant on getting that character to listen, you’re bound to annoy some people.
But it’s that trick of setting up certain expectations before breaking them that makes the game so effective, and tackling major design challenges is part of what makes the game feel so distinct from other else out there. It’s a problem so tricky that no one else wants to even attempt to solve it, even if The Last Guardian’s solutions are far from perfect.
“There are no other analogous games of this scale,” our own Matt Leone wrote. “In recent years, a number of games have nailed a similar tone, but none have come anywhere close to building a creature as elaborate and impressive as Trico.”
Give the video above a watch, and I’ll bet that you’ll become much more likely to want to at least try the game if you haven’t already.