Time and Hype Killed A Gaming Masterpiece; Story of The Last Guardian’s Death 7 Months After Release

Team Ico was known in the industry for their marvellous work in Shadow of the Colossus. The game helped the studio establish itself within the gaming industry in terms of delivering emotionally gripping adventures with innovative gameplay, stunning visuals and a critically acclaimed soundtrack. In the summer of 2009, Team Ico announced The Last Guardian. Initially a PS3 exclusive, the game was set out to be one of the best games in our generation, however, its twinkling star quickly faded in around 7 months after release following years of hype and anticipation.

On exactly June 2nd of 2009, the world got to see its first glimpse of The Last Guardian, a title that was soon to be considered one of the most anticipated titles in the history of the franchise. The game was revealed as a PS3 exclusive with a 2011 release window. However, things didn’t go as smooth as Sony nor as Team Ico intended, since the game got delayed. In December 2011, Game Designer Fumito Ueda decided to leave Sony, but not without completing work on The Last Guardian, since he was contractually obliged to. Long story short, we fast forward to E3 2016 where The Last Guardian was re-introduced and finally got released on December 6 last year.

A game that gets announced in 2009 and gets released 7 years later would have been long forgotten during that period, but the reason why The Last Guardian didn’t suffer from that is because it’s not just another game. Every time we got a glimpse of the game, we saw something new, something innovative, something that gave us hope that this game will set the bar for games to come in its genre. One of the main reasons people fell in love with The Last Guardian was because of how Team Ico developed Trico, your half-bird half-dog faithful companion that helps you unravel the mysteries of the wonderfully designed world around you.

Trico was developed not just to be another NPC animal companion that you took with you on your adventure, Trico was specifically developed to build the emotional aspect of The Last Guardian. And I have to admit, Team Ico did a marvellous job in delivering what they promised when it comes to Trico’s actions, behaviour, mood and so on.

Trico played a major factor in The Last Guardian’s hype train, our main topic. All of the above paves the way to why The Last Guardian was such a promising title with innovative concepts and ideas that deserve much more praise than it got. There was a time when everybody followed The Last Guardian and went crazy when even one picture got leaked or revealed from the developer. Before release, Sony admitted that pre-orders exceeded their expectations, especially after the reveal of the game’s Collector’s Edition, featuring a highly detailed and loveable statue of the little boy standing on top of his best friend, Trico.

However, considering the numerous people and almost unanimous love and anticipation for The Last Guardian, that love didn’t result in the game topping the charts for weeks straight. In fact, The Last Guardian managed to only snatch the number 7 spot in its debut week, failing to even beat Dead Rising 4, another debut at the time. Keep in mind that Dead Rising 4 was announced in June 2016 and released in December 2016, only 6 months between announcement and release. The following week saw The Last Guardian drop into the 20th spot, falling behind titles such as Minecraft: Xbox Edition, Just Dance 2017, Pokemon Sun & Moon and WWE 2K17. With all due respect to the previously mentioned title, after The Last Guardian’s development roller coaster and the development team’s creativity with the title, the game deserved better.

Some may argue that maybe the reason why The Last Guardian didn’t perform as expected is mainly because of its flaws. I never stated The Last Guardian was a perfect title, sure the game suffered from weird camera angles at times and occasional glitches, but the keyword in the latter sentence is “expected.” After a 7 years wait, people expected a “perfect” game. The problem is that people judged it with those 7 years in mind, but if it was announced and released six months, or even a year later, it would have done much better in terms of sales. Unfortunately, this is a story of whats, ifs and buts, a story of a game that could have achieved much more but may be considered dead just 7 months after release.