A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Last Guardian is an action-adventure game. There's little parents will find objectionable, and while there are some fights with possessed suits of armor, they are crushed to bits in combat. There are some moments where Trico, the feathered beast, gets injured by these suits, and bloodstains appear on his coat. Otherwise, there's no excessive gore to be found.
What's it about?
THE LAST GUARDIAN begins with you, a small boy, waking in a cave near a giant beast with spears in its side. After tending to its wounds and gaining its trust, you and the creature make your way out of an enormous castle. Along the way, you develop a bond and learn the only way to survive and progress is through collaboration and working together to escape. The story is told in flashback, evidenced only by the young boy narrating some of the on-screen action as memories he's sharing as an old man.
Is it any good?
This incredible adventure game is full of heart, charm, and personality, even if some of the technical hiccups make it stumble at times. The colossal delays for The Last Guardian (it was previously canceled, and many doubted it would ever see the light of day in any form) should have little to do with a player's expectations of what the game is actually like once you boot it up. That said, this is a charming and straightforward title that doesn't concern itself with twitchy battles and item management. Instead, it's a streamlined adventure where a strong bond of trust and friendship is forged between a small boy and a towering mythical beast. It helps that great care went into creating the beast, Trico. A mix between a giraffe, cat, dragon, bird, and, seemingly, every other animal, the creature feels alive. Although it learns to take cues from you over time, it's largely content to go around and do its own thing as any animal really would. As such, it's impressive how pixels assembled on a screen in a game in reality guided by code doesn't feel like an artificial intelligence but instead a breathing being with its own personality and quirks.
It's also a nice contrast with exploring the castle and floating island, which is fraught with peril and steep drops. Since the boy has no health bar, it encourages you to be bold in your exploration. Risking terrifying falls is a routine part of The Last Guardian, as Trico's height is key to progressing. He serves as a moving platform with a mind of its own, but you also need to be on the lookout for tiny crevasses. Expect to feel stuck for long periods of time before having an epiphany of where to go that you hadn't thought of before. In all honesty, the game is a sequence of moments interrupted by progress and forward momentum. Trico can leap over towering walls and zap lightning from his tail to remove wooden walls, and he has other abilities you can use once you bond with him. This stopping and starting is only marred by a camera that struggles to keep up with the scope of the castle, the size of Trico, and the perspective of the small boy at the same time. When the camera isn't showing the wrong side of a wall, you can expect it to frequently give you a sense of claustrophobia. Although these are things that might be patched in the near future, they shouldn't deter you from exploring The Last Guardian, which, unlike many other games made today, can easily be described as warm, charming, and inviting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the bond between humans and animals. Are there some animals you feel you can relate to more than others? Why?
Why are some animals kept as pets and others aren't? Is it "right" to keep some animals as pets?
This game was in development for nearly a decade. Would you ever work on the same project or goal for 10 years? If so, what would it be, and why? If not, why not?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: December 6, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Blood
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.