Video Game / The Last Guardian

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tlgcover.jpg

In my memories, the monster always has kind eyes.

The Last Guardian is an adventure game, and the third work by Team ICO.

The game, which takes place in the same world as Shadow of the Colossus and ICO, tells the story of a young boy who awakens in a dark cavern, with no knowledge of how he got there. To his shock, sleeping next to him is a giant feathered griffin-like beast named Trico, chained to the floor and injured. Though the beast is initially hostile, the boy is slowly able to free it and win its trust - and, eventually, to work together.

They'll need to. The boy quickly discovers that he's in the midst of an enormous ruin known as the Nest: a gigantic complex of towering structures and interconnecting walkways, walled off by mile-high mountains and built above a gigantic abyss. If the boy has any hope for escape, he will need Trico's help in not only traversing these crumbling ruins, but also for protection. Magically-possessed suits of armor inhabit many of the Nest's significant structures, and will try to capture the boy on sight. Only Trico can keep the boy safe from them...and from even more dangerous foes.

Team Ico began developing the game in 2007, and was announced at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo with a planned release in 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, the game suffered many delays and a generation jump. The development was later hampered by Ueda's departure from Sony in December 2011, along with many staff of Team Ico. However, Ueda and other former Team Ico members created a new studio, genDESIGN. This studio decided to finish the game and opted to commit themselves to helping Sony complete it through contract and working alongside Sony's internal Japan Studio.

After this lengthy production cycle and several delays, the game was released for the PlayStation 4 on December 6, 2016.


This game provides examples of:

  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: In a way, the game is vaguely sci-fi, from the armored knights behaving almost like robots to the Master of the Valley, which seems to function like a Master Computer.
  • Adult Fear: At night, when everyone is asleep, an innocent boy is stolen from his bed and presumably eaten by a strange beast. Small wonder that Mass "Oh, Crap!" ensues.
  • Ambiguous Situation: One of the final cutscenes shows that the barrels you kept feeding Trico are shot out from a sci-fi like construction the Tricos feed human children to. It's not made clear if the barrels are merely rewards for the Tricos, or if they contain remnants of the human children.
  • Artistic License Physics: Trico and his fellow species don't appear to have the correct wing-to-body ratio for them to be able to fly.
  • Attack the Tail: During the second Boss Battle, the Boy has to drop a gate on top of the darker Trico's tail in order to make it let the main Trico go.
  • Backtracking: At one point, the companions encounter another Trico that swipes at the main Trico and causes him and the boy to fall back down into a place they'd previously been.
  • The Berserker: Once Trico gets wound up, he'll keep smashing at the statues even after they've been "killed" until you calm him with petting.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Often invoked during gameplay when you get temporarily separated from Trico and end up in a place with soldiers - what usually happens is the soldiers chasing the boy to where Trico is, or the boy finding a way to open a door for Trico so he can leap in and thoroughly trash the soldiers trying to get the boy.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The companions manage to escape the ruins, albeit injured. Trico takes the boy back home, but the latter is forced to make him leave as the villagers fear him. Years later, the now-adult boy finds the magic mirror and as he aims it to the sky, Trico -living in its original cell- wakes up with eyes glowing, implying they'll reunite again. Also, Trico is implied to have had a baby.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The idea of the Nest as a functioning building stretches the imagination. Many of the rooms in it have no clear purpose and much of the architecture seems to be specfically designed for people to fall to their deaths. Compare to ICO's Castle, which was purposely designed to feel like a real location.
  • Bookends: Both the beginning and end of the game has a part where the boy is lying unconscious while Trico gently nudges and sniffs him. If one counts The Stinger, the game also both begins and ends in the cave where the boy and Trico first wake up together: the implication being that several decades later, Trico is living in said cave with its offspring.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his giant, horned man-eating griffin-dog-cat-thing.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Trico's race is being controlled by the Master of the Valley, a seemingly rogue ancient AI. It broadcasts its commands from the highest tower resonating with the creatures horns. They are incredibly hostile and attack without regard for their own safety. Trico is spared being a puppet since his horns were damaged.
  • Broken Bridge: Lots of them around the valley, requiring you and Trico to circumvent them.
  • Child Eater: Apparently, legends say that Trico's kind are man-eaters (or more specifically, child-eaters). The boy finds that this doesn't seem to be true, and that the beast instead eats the contents of mysterious glowing barrels. It is true, though, in a way: Trico can harmlessly swallow humans and later regurgitate them. From the point of your village, it certainly looked like Trico took you as a snack.
  • Controllable Helplessness:
    • When Trico is affected by the antenna room that makes him turn on the boy, there is no way to escape or wake him up, you have to get eaten by him to progress. Avoid him for three minutes though and you get a trophy.
    • At one point the boy gets stuck in a cage and all he can do is helplessly move around inside of it without getting anywhere until Trico finds him.
    • Kicks in heavily at the end when the companions have made it to the top of the tower and a dozen Tricos appear and starts attacking the main Trico. For a good while of the fight the boy can only watch as Trico gets horribly beaten and other Tricos swipe at the boy if he tries to get close. Try to reach the shield and a dark Trico grabs the boy, violently shakes him and throws him off the tower, to which he grabs a flying Trico and can only hang on for dear life as it flies through the valley for nearly two minutes. Only when it lands on top of the tower again is the boy finally able to retrieve the shield and progress in his rescue.
  • Continuity Nod: The chamber that the boy enters early on to find the shield looks eerily similar to the room from the castle in Shadow of the Colossus with the pool at the bottom that Wander and Dormin got sucked into. Some fans have even speculated if the grave-like monument the boy takes the shield from is meant to be Dormin's grave.
  • Cool Down Hug: Cool down petting in this case. You'll want to do it after every battle to calm Trico down. It's not absolutely necessary to do so, but it will speed his recovery up greatly.
  • Dark Is Evil: All the other Tricos that appear in the game have darker feathers than the main Trico and are extremely hostile. Subverted in that they're not really evil, but Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • Die or Fly: Literally: at one point the boy and Trico are escaping down a construction that's crumbling beneath them, until it completely collapses and Trico falls off... when he suddenly spreads his wings that have significantly grown in size and allows for him and the boy to glide a short distance and grab onto a tower.
  • Disney Death: At the end of the game, a badly beaten Trico returns the boy to his village and flies away, with one of the village men commenting Trico probably doesn't have long to live considering his wounds. Cue the post-credit scene which takes place some 40 years later, Trico is implied to still be alive and with a baby.
  • Disney Villain Death: After the Master of the Valley is destroyed, the other man-eating beasts either plummet from the sky or fall off the tower (likely some kind of shock from their control suddenly being severed).
  • Distant Finale: The post-credit scene shows some village children finding the shield buried in the dirt, before a man with distinct markings on his skin shows up. The boy, now a man in what appears to be his 50s, tells the children of his adventure with Trico, before he raises the shield to the sky, and, unbeknownst to him, the beam from the shield travels all the way to the valley where it all happened. As it pans into the cave where he and Trico woke up together, a pair of eyes light up in the dark, followed by a pair of smaller eyes.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": "Trico" is the name of the species, and it's all the boy calls it.
  • Escort Mission: Notably inverted. It's Trico that is escorting the boy, essentially.
  • Eye Motifs: Littered throughout the Nest are various hexagonal glass panels depicting an open eye. When Trico runs into them, he becomes terrified and refuses to continue on, requiring the boy to find a way to destroy them. The eye symbols are apparently a type of ward put in place as a security measure against Trico or others of his kind from escaping or rebelling.
  • Faceless Mooks: The other members of Trico's species (and Trico himself originally) all wear metal masks that make them look very menacing, the armored soldiers patrolling The Nest don't quite count because there's nothing under the masks.
  • Fictionary: The boy speaks a fictional language, which may or may not be the same one spoken in the last two games.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The story is narrated by the boy when he's older, giving away that he survives, which likely made many players even more worried for Trico's fate.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening credits begins with showing drawings of bees and bee hives. The ending reveals that Trico's species are used as mindless drones to kidnap children and feed them to the Master of the Valley, reminiscent of bees bringing honey to their queen.
  • Gentle Giant: Trico...at least as long as he doesn't detect any hostiles nearby.
  • Healing Factor: Trico's horns, wings and tail grow fully back in the span of what is roughly a few days.
  • Hell Is That Noise: While Trico's grunts can be cute, his other noises are hellish sometimes. Prime example: His screams of terror when confronted with the satellite dish-like device in the E3 2015 trailer.
  • Holler Button: Pressing the R1 button will cause the boy to call Trico over, while holding it down and pointing with the analog stick or pressing face buttons will cause him to give simple orders to Trico.
  • Interspecies Friendship: The boy and Trico grow fond of each other during their journey.
  • Involuntary Group Split: At one point, the boy loses Trico because he couldn't hold his breath long enough for Trico to swim all the way through a tunnel, and luckily washed up on shore after he passed out, rather than simply sinking to the bottom and drowning. This results in a rather long Solo Sequence before you can reunite with your companion.
  • The Last Title
  • Made of Iron: Both the boy and Trico. The boy can survive falling from the equivalent of a three-story building with no more ill effects than temporarily limping. Trico survives things such as being speared repeatedly, a whole tunnel collapsing on him being struck by lightning, and savaged by a gang of other Tricos.
  • Magic Mirror: The Boy finds a strange mirror in the cavern where he and Trico are trapped. When the boy reflects light off the mirror to hit something, Trico's tail shoots forth a bolt of lightning to strike it.
  • Magitek: Much of the setting later on, but most notably the armored knights that try to capture the boy.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: The griffins' eyes glow red, indicating that they're being controlled. In the cutscene explaining how the boy ended up in the griffins' lair, his eyes turn red right before Trico swallows him, indicating that whatever controls the griffins is also able to hypnotize humans into placidity so they can be eaten.
  • Mythology Gag: Trico's name. He's in the third game by Team ICO.
  • Never Trust a Title: You find out pretty early on that Trico isn't the last of his kind. In fact, given the dozens that show up during the final battle, it doesn't even seem that he's really that rare.
    • It might actually refer to the Master of the Valley, the mysterious machine ruling over the Nest..
  • New Game+: Finishing the game and continuing will unlock an Items menu under Options, where you can wear various outfits based on how many barrels you've fed Trico across all your playthroughs. Progress made towards most trophies is also carried over, so you don't have to worry about doing some of the crazier feats in a single go.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Trico does, on rare occasions. They resemble green balls of slime, and the boy can pick them up. In fact, you get a trophy for seeing him poop.
  • No-Gear Level: At one point, relatively early on too, Trico straight up EATS you and your only weapon, the mirror. Luckily for you, you get regurgitated a couple minutes later. Unfortunately for you, said mirror gets left behind, for about half the game, too.
  • No Name Given: The boy you play as.
  • Non-Player Companion: Trico, of course. He's got a mind of his own, and whether or not he listens to you depends on his mood and if he's distracted by something.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: The story's narrated by the boy when he's an adult, and The Stinger reveals that he was telling it to the village children.
  • Notice This
    • Trico serves this function. If you linger in an area he will tend to direct your attention to what you need to do next, such as playing with a chain you should climb or staring at a ledge you need him to leap onto.
    • The Narrative voice also occasionally serves this purpose. If the player spends too long without progressing it'll mention what the protagonist is thinking of at the time to point the player in the right direction.
    • Bright blue butterflies are drawn to the barrels of blue goo. A single butterfly fluttering around means that boy is in the general vicinity and a trio of them will hang around the actual barrel making them easier to find.
  • One-Hit Kill: If a guard catches the boy and you fail to struggle out of it, it's over. Which makes it all the more satisfying when you can introduce them to Trico and have him do the same to them.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Or well, "My fictional language is slipping". During the flashback cutscene of Trico abducting the boy, one child sounds like he says "Ojisan" (Japanese for "Uncle") while, when Trico breaks free from the building, another man clearly shouts "Nigero" ("Run").
  • Our Dragons Are Different: When you get right down to it, tricos essentially are dragons. Specifically, the Western kind: they're huge, winged, have four legs and horns (all common traits of European dragons, contrast the serpentine, wingless Asian dragons, although they do share the Asian dragons' feathers) and they have a similar (and not unjustified) reputation among the people of this world as man-eating monsters that show up out of nowhere to eat people.
  • Perpetual Molt: Trico loses a few feathers on occasion, most noticeably when the boy pulls spears out of him, but in general they stay on his body, as they should. Except for near the end, when Trico was viciously attacked by others of its kind and heavily wounded. He's trailing tons of feathers as he carries the boy back home then.
  • Pet Interface: Trico, of course. You can climb all over him, pet him, ask him to do things for you, remove spears and clean the blood off his feathers after battle, and feed him (the game will require you to feed him at certain predetermined points, but you can offer him a snack any time you find a barrel of food). As the game progresses, you may find you can spend quite a lot of time atop Trico's back and merely point in the direction you want him to go; not only is this safer, since guards can't get you atop your giant friend, but some parts of the landscape can only be navigated if you're extra large and feathered.
  • Please Wake Up: Whenever the Boy is unconscious, Trico nudges him with its claws or beak to wake him up.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Thanks to a Heroic R.R.O.D., the semiconscious boy is unable to tell his fellow villagers that Trico, the beast who kidnapped him, also saved him. They try to kill Trico as a result in their attempt to "save" him. The boy can only feebly point to get Trico to leave. It's implied that as an adult the boy is able to tell the truth, though he waits a long time before trying the shield again..
  • Pretty Butterflies: These will flutter about whenever a barrel is nearby.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Master of the Valley appears to control the Tricos into bringing it children.
  • The Reveal: About midway through the game we're treated to a flashback of the boy being kidnapped from his home by a Trico with armour and full wings, leaving it ambiguous whether it's the main Trico or a random one. It's not until the flashback shows the armoured creature being struck by lightning while he's flying, plummeting into the ruins and getting his armour damaged, that we realize he was the main Trico all along. The entire flashback is also this for what exactly happened for the boy and Trico to wake up in that cave.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: The Last Guardian is to this trope as ICO was to the traditional Escort Mission. The boy is helpless; Trico is effectively invincible. A specific number of enemies appear in specific places and don't come back. Escort and escortee need to work together to get out of this place. Entirely nontraditional, but priceless nonetheless. The works.
  • Revisiting the Roots: After Shadow of the Colossus went in a different direction by being a Puzzle Boss Game, this game is more in line with the original ICO, being more traditional puzzle oriented, albeit with the main gimmick reversed. note 
  • Rogue Drone: Trico was just another of the many mind-controlled beasts sent to collect humans for the Master of the Valley , but after getting struck by lightning its horns are broken by the fall, thus it is freed from the master's control and befriends the boy. We also get a lesser example with the other beast who after the boy inadvertently breaks is horns to stop it from attacking Trico, it immediately stops fighting and leaves. The opening sequence of the game even depicts a beehive.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Like Shadow of the Colossus and ICO , it features massive amounts of them.
  • Scenery Porn: Like its predecessors, much of the game takes place high above the ground, so there's lots of it. Special mention has to go the ending when Trico and the boy have made their way to the top of the main tower, and later when Trico flies the boy to his village. Another brief, but memorable part is the flashback cutscene of Trico flying high above the clouds while transporting the boy. The lighting and texture of those clouds is breathtaking.
  • Shoo the Dog: The boy has to tell Trico to leave at the end, before the villagers kill him.
  • Smashing Survival:
    • If the boy is captured by an armored soldier, he becomes paralyzed by his enchanted tattoos as several glyphs fill the screen. The player must repeatedly press buttons to struggle out of the soldier's grasp. To make things worse, any nearby soldiers will cast spells that further enhance the tattoos' effect.
    • Whenever you get a game over the screen goes black and the glyphs start coming out. You might think this is a loading screen, but it's actually not. Tap buttons until the glyphs fade away to resume the game.
  • Solo Sequence: There are several points in the game where you'll have to leave Trico momentarily, due to needing to get into an area that's too small for him to follow; the colossus generally doesn't like being left alone and will call after you and do everything he can to get to you. There's also a longer one following an Involuntary Group Split, which really makes you appreciate having a giant friend to protect you; running afoul of a guard is practically a death sentence when you're alone.
  • Spanner in the Works: Of a sort. During Trico's abduction of the boy, results in several spears stuck in his side, courtesy of the boy's villagers trying to rescue him. While Trico is flying afterwards, said metal spears cause Trico to get struck by lightning, causing him to crash, freeing him from the AI's control, and eventually setting up the circumstances of the boy and Trico's friendship and the AI's defeat.
  • Spiritual Successor: It is part of the Team ICO Thematic Series, which also includes Shadow of the Colossus and ICO. Thus it takes place in the same world and features similar architecture and themes but seems unconnected to the actual events of those games.
  • Stomach of Holding: The Trico are able to carry humans in their stomachs and transport them to the Nest, where they are seemingly offered to the Master of the Valley.
    • In the ending, the main Trico carries the Boy in its stomach in order to safely carry him back to his village.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: When the boy happens across a guard when he's alone, the music becomes extremely ominous. But should you make it safely back to Trico, the music will suddenly shift into Trico's battle theme, which is decidedly triumphant and tells you those guards are going to be owned.
  • Toothy Bird: Sort of an inversion, Trico and the rest of their kind have (admittedly somewhat beak shaped) muzzles but whenever they open their mouth they clearly don't have any teeth.
  • Tutorial Failure: The game leaves you to figure out many things on your own which might lead to frustration for some players at parts where they don't know of the proper solution. For instance, there's a puzzle where you have to place some barrels on a box before throwing them through some bars: what you should do is stand next to the box and press SQUARE to place the barrels on top of it, but the game doesn't tell you this unless you're right in front of the box, which leads some players to think they have to throw the barrel to make it land on the box and spend about a dozen tries doing so. Neither does the game tell you that you can rub blood off Trico's feathers or help him fight the guards by pulling their heads off when Trico knocks them down.
  • Unconscious Objector: Trico's tail will respond to the mirror's command to attack even when Trico is unconscious, or when it's been severed from Trico's body entirely.
  • The Unreveal: The Last Guardian notably offers more story than Team Ico's previous games did, but still retains some of the ending ambiguity, such as there not being given any explanation as to what exactly the Master of the Valley is, how it came to exist or what purpose it serves. And once again, who built those ruins?
  • Videogame Caring Potential: Pretty much the core of the game is the relationship you develop with Trico through the boy, the former having what is probably the most realistic animal AI ever put to a game. You can pet Trico, watch him play, remove spears from his hide, have him snuggle up to you, be saved by him from enemies, the list goes on. Many will compare the feeling Trico gives them to their own cat or dog, and it's said bond that leads most players to tears by the end when Trico and the boy have to separate.
  • The Wall Around the World: That place you're trapped in? It's a valley residing in what looks to be a combination of a titanic sinkhole and a volcano. In other words, it has an enormous natural wall.
  • The War Sequence: The finale has Trico fighting against dozens of other Tricos and nearly losing, who go into a frenzy thanks to the satellite-like construct situated directly above the Master of the Valley. It takes the boy to destroy the Master itself to save it, leading to the ending. Before that, you fight two times against dozens of regular enemies.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: The game begins with you having been mysteriously transported to an ancient ruin. Turns out, you were just asleep while being flown there by the very same beast you woke up next to.

"And that is how it ended our extraordinary story."
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/TheLastGuardian