Maybe I Don't Need The Last Guardian Anymore

Maybe I Don't Need The Last Guardian Anymore

Sony's press conference came and went last night, filled with pregnant pauses. None of those silences gave birth to any news about The Last Guardian, making it five years of barely suppressed longing. High time, then, for me to think about where I'm going to put this game in my heart, whenever it comes out. Do I still have room?

It's been a wild few days for those pining away for The Last Guardian. First came reports that the game had been cancelled, followed by a sharp debunking by Sony leadership. And, then, last night came and went without so much as a mention of the game once known as Project Trico. Sony reassured people that the game was coming but showed no sign of it. Cruel, business-as-usual or somewhere in between?

The notional attachment I've had to Last Guardian hinges heavily on the game I want it to be. Having watched the extant footage for the game when it first came out, I dreamed of TLG as a tears-at-the-ready experience. It felt nearly impossible not to preload the emotions that the game would seemingly pull out of me. Wonder? Check. Dread? Ready to go. Anger? Already percolating. But those feelings have sat in a queue for a long time and a weird thing happened: other, newer games unexpectedly starting hitting those notes more often.

Part of my longing for The Last Guardian comes from the time period when it was revealed. (Of course, the Team Ico pedigree had a lot to do with it, too.) When Sony confirmed the game's existence in 2009, the video game landscape looked different. By-the-numbers racers, shooters and action-adventure games dominated and indie game development — the risk-taking experimentalism that characterises the best small-team titles — wasn't as firmly established as it is now. So, the desire to see a game that would draw from a broader emotional palette was stronger, at least for me.

But, since then, other games have come out and fulfilled the component wishes I had for Team Ico's long-brewing PlayStation game. I wanted Last Guardian to be a tender fable about friendship and how people treat each other. I wanted beautiful, painterly art direction and controls that would be refreshing in their simplicity. I wanted games I could point non-gamers to as proof that the medium could reflect on human relations. I got Papo & Yo, Bastion, Telltale's The Walking Dead, Flower, Journey and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Games that felt like they were made by people, not companies. As I touched each of these games, the pangs I had for Last Guardian got less sharp.

Because these other games mine the same emotional territory I expect the Last Guardian to explore, the weight of my expectations on Fumito Ueda's next game won't be quite as heavy. In fact, I'll probably appreciate it more as a part of a cohort of games that feel like they're coming from an existential place. I still want The Last Guardian and all the cuteness and sweep that it promised. But I don't feel like I need it for the same reasons I used to.


    Ah nicely put. What a trolly heading though! I was all huff, puff, bah! Who does he think he is to say he doesnt need this any more! The nerve, I'm going to leave an internet comment about this!

      You know the game is going to disappoint everyone right? Everyone has built it up so much in their heads there's no possible way it could meet any of those expectations.

        Nah but like, I talked about this with some others on twitter- it's got nothing to do with epxectations (well, at least not for me). I just want the same atmosphere that Ico and SotC had, and I think it would be hard for them to fail at delivering that. Even in the trailer there's a sense of scale and atmosphere that I already love, it doesnt need to be much more than that.

        Yeah, I've thought that as well. Still, a Ueda designed game hasn't let me down yet. Have to keep up hope. You know it'll still be pretty spectacular, and a game worth playing.

        I think they may have burned away any real hype people had for this game several years ago. Anyone even remotely aware of the development trouble for this game would know that we will lucky to even see this game release, let alone it be any good.

    I don't understand why this game is a big deal anymore.

    Its main claim to fame these days is the fact that it has never existed and we have never played it.

      Because its the same people who did Ico and SotC? I think the idea generating that people expect it to be the best thing ever made is a little skewed... I think people just expect it to be like Ico and SotC, which no other game has really done. It just fills a void of game design and atmosphere that others dont. Thats at least where my ongoing want for it comes from.

        Hah, posted nearly the same thing as you at the same time!

      It's part of the Ico/Colossus legacy, some of the earliest contenders for the "Games as Art" category, so I figure it's mostly that. But I agree with the article, games like this are way more common now and Last Guardian maybe isn't needed after all.

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