Team Ico's next project, The Last Guardian, is still shrouded in a lot of mystery. Last month, details were finally released about TLG that shed light on a few things, including which of Team Ico's two previous games -- ICO and Shadow of the Colossus -- the new title is going to be most similar to.
While TLG is going to be much more similar to ICO than SotC, it will not be as confined and will feature fewer fighting sequences than ICO did. This is no doubt good news, since the protagonist of the story can't defeat guards, only his dog-bird companion Torico can.
Japanese video game news source Famitsu got their hands on a demo of the game, and their experience with the demo illustrates the importance of the bond between the main character and Torico. Torico will start out in the game unresponsive to the protagonist, and only with the right interest will he acknowledge the boy. Torico moves entirely of his own free will, moving towards things that interest him, like barrels, small animals, and grass.
While the boy can't fight, he still has some tools at his disposal to elude or escape from the shadow guards that populate the game. The guards' heavy armor makes them slow, so outrunning them is always an option for the boy. Alternately, the boy can run into the guards to put them off balance, giving him a chance to escape as they recover.
It isn't automatically game over when guards capture the boy. First they'll try to carry him off, and once they reach a certain point the game will end. Until that point, the boy can still manage to escape. The guards will focus on the boy, but if Torico gets in the way they will attack him instead. It' seems Torico has a health bar, but it isn't clear what happens to him if that health bar runs out.
Famitsu also debuted a number of exclusive new screenshots of The Last Guardian, some of which are posted in the gallery below:
[gallery, exclude="71272" columns="2"]
Commenting on the game, Fumito Ueda pointed out a few things that were noteworthy from the demo. A couple of points on the power of the physics engine were particularly interesting. The movement of Torico's ears, for example, when they collide with a wall are determined by the physics engine, and not a predetermined animation.
The boy's animation, on the other hand, really helps make the game feel "real" in different ways. When the boy approaches a wall, he will put his hands against it. Ueda felt that for the world to feel real, the boy would have to interact with it realistically, and that included making it possible for him to interact with the objects of the world in a believable way.
In a recent interview with Gamespot at GDC 2011, Ueda explained that his choice to go with an animal as a main character was made as a means of making the game appeal to a wider audience. Meanwhile, his take on the gameplay experience in The Last Guardian is that much like ICO, it is more a form of computer entertainment, while Shadow of The Colossus is more of a video game. That perhaps clarifies what kind of experience we should expect from TLG.
That isn't to say that SotC didn't leave its mark. Ueda also confirmed that the game will take the boy and Torico outside of the castle, but that the scope of the game world would not be as large as that of SotC.
An interview with 1UP at GDC 2011 revealed that, while nothing has been confirmed, the possibility of a Last Guardian demo being included in the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus Collection is being considered. In the past, the God of War Collection included a demo for God of War 3, and the The Sly Collection contained a video for Sly 4.
The Last Guardian is expected to release in Japan later this year for the PS3, with a North American release likely coming sometime next Spring. The ICO/Shadow of the Colossus Collection is expected sometime this Spring for the PS3.