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At last, we have hands-on gameplay of The Last Guardian

A boy and the creature Trico are the characters of The Last Guardian.

The Last Guardian has been in development at developer Gen Design and Sony’s Japan Studio for almost a decade, but it’s finally expected to ship on December 6 on the PlayStation 4.

Sony is showing hands-on gameplay at the Tokyo Game Show this week, and we got to play it ahead of time at Sony Interactive headquarters in Foster City, Calif. This Sony exclusive has had huge pent-up demand, as was evidenced by the roar that we heard when Sony re-introduced the game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2015.

In the game, you control a young boy and his giant creature, Trico, which is a cross between a bird and a dog. You have to work together to get through obstacles that could stop either the boy or Trico on their own. The environments are huge, and the graphics of the scenery are pretty.

I have very mixed emotions about this game. I can appreciate how difficult it was to make it, but I also feel like video game technology has passed it by. There are times when you get a close-up view of the boy or Trico, and you’ll find that they’re all pixelated. I wish the developers would have found a way to make both the environments and the characters look good at the same time.

Trico and the boy inside the temple in The Last Guardian.

Above: Trico and the boy inside the temple in The Last Guardian.

Image Credit: Sony

The scene that I played began in some kind of giant abandoned temple. As the boy, I had to maneuver a counterweight to a spot where Trico could use his might force to move a giant gate. Sometimes the boy has to climb up on Trico, who then jumps to a ledge and then moves to the next area.

But there were time when I remembered Trico was just a creature. When we came upon some glass sculptures of some eyes, I found that Trico wouldn’t move past them. So I had to find some rocks and throw them at the eyes, shattering them, so that Trico would move on. In those moments, the gameplay experience is fun, like solving a puzzle.

The Last Guardian

Above: Trico in The Last Guardian

Image Credit: Sony

When I got outside, it was nice to see the contrast between the darkness of the temple interior with the brightness of the vast temple chasm. There, I had to solve more puzzles, pushing obstacles with the boy’s abilities, and then jumping across a giant abyss using Trico. The animations of the boy teetering on the edge of the abyss gave me that sense of vertigo. And at the last second, Trico would rescue the boy. When those hair-raising rescues happen, the music is pounding and stirring.

I enjoyed the outdoor part more than the indoor part, and I hope there’s plenty of variety of gameplay in the rest of the title. And I look forward to seeing more of it.

Here’s 20 minutes of my own hands-on gameplay for The Last Guardian. This is the same gameplay that Sony will show off at the Tokyo Game Show.

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