The Last Guardian is a game that fans have waited for ever since Shadow of the Colossus. And 2016 is the year it is set to become a reality.
Speaking with IGN, creative director Fumito Ueda commented on being near the end of development. “I’ve never been on a game that has taken so long to develop, so a part of me feels sad but a part of me feels like I just want to complete it. I have mixed feelings.”
Ueda has often been regarded as a driven and very talented artist with a thirst for creation, whether it’s the unique and beautiful Colossi from Shadow of the Colossus or the imposing structures in Ico. Much of that same talent is visible in The Last Guardian.
Originally unveiled at E3 2009, Team Ico delayed The Last Guardian for many reasons, but according to Ueda, “There were lots of technical issues. The game was not performing at speed… It was clear that the team had to make a compromise in terms of features.”
You would assume that because of this he would welcome the extra power that the PS4 offers over the PS3, but originally he was against the idea of shifting the development over.
“When it was decided that the game would be transitioned to PS4 it was difficult for me to accept, now that I look back at it, the PS3 market has become smaller at this point and now I think the PS4 market is the main market so I am happy to have this title as a PS4 exclusive title, but when the decision was first made I had some difficulty and I felt a little disappointed because I wanted to release this game earlier.”
In the modern game industry where everything is visually impressive (more or less) people focus more on the little details to see the technical brilliance of the game. Ueda is no stranger to this and he strives to make The Last Guardian one of the most engaging games we’ve ever seen.
“The idea that the boy hangs on to Trico and moves to places that he would not have been able to go by himself is the main concept for this game, and the contrast between the small movements that the boy makes by himself and the large dynamic movements that the boy makes with Trico is at the heart of the game, and that has not changed since the very beginning.”
All of Ueda’s games share a similar theme of companionship between the characters. In Ico it is the friendship between Ico and Yorda, and in Shadow of the Colossus it is the love between Wander and Mono that drives the story, the friendship between Wander and Agro carrying it through. The Last Guardian also seeks to capture that theme between the Boy and Trico, but it’s not really on Ueda’s mind.
“I myself personally do not have a strong opinion about their relationship. The thing that I care more about is after the player plays the game I want Trico to leave a strong impression on them.”
Arguably the most important thing about the development of The Last Guardian is whether or not Trico is convincing, he needs to actually seem alive in order for players to connect with him. Explaining just how the team hopes to do that, “In terms of the modelling and the visuals, I think I was able to feel that way quite early – several years ago I think. But in terms of the animations, this was an area that we’d struggled and there were some times where we had difficulty making progress. The point where I really felt like Trico was real and a real living creature… was reached only in the recent months.”
Probably one of the most impressive thing about the E3 demo back in 2015 was when the boy jumped on Trico and his feathers moved individually. It gave Trico and the environment a feeling of life. From what we’ve seen and what Ueda has told us, it’s safe to say that The Last Guardian is shaping up to be one of the most impressive games that will come out in 2016.