So this is it. The first game from the Japan based Team Ico Game Studio. Many of you might know Shadow of the Colossus, which is their second game. Ico is not that well known I think. What a shame...
...as this game is just awesome. The castle, in which most of the game takes place, is just very well designed. It is spreading a nice feeling, I mean it is nice to look at and with the great sound design you just wish that this castle really existed so you can visit it for real. Nice architecture, nice lighting, hearing the wind blowing and the trees' leaves moving...well I don't know any better words than to say, it just feels right. That's what this game is about...feeling.
The graphics themselves aren't that great when you look at them from todays view. The game came out in 2002, so it is basically one of the older PS2 titles. The resolution is aweful. When playing on your LCD TV you'll see lots and lots of pixels. But this does not influence the gaming experience in any negative way.
The only thing that really pissed me off in this game is that nothing, relly nothing is being explained at all. As far as the story is concerned, this is what makes the game interesting. As far as the gameplay mechanics go, it is just frustrating. At many points in the game you don't know what to do next to continue in the game. You walked around everywhere, tried almost everything...like when you're stuck in a Point-and-Click Adventure. God, I hated that...Well anyways, the puzzles are really not impossible to figure out, if you know what Ico (the name of the main character whom you're controlling in this game) is capable of doing. For example it is never explaind that you can swing with a rope by pushing the circle button. A tutorial would have been really nice.
Once you figured the mechanics out, you won't lay the controller down anymore. The game keeps you entertained from 5 to 7 hours, which is from nowadays view an average playtime. But the time is, trust me on this, very well spent. This game is just an awesome piece of art. I won't spoil any story details, since the story is not that huge after all, but basically you're a boy with horns and you'll have to escape from a castle, but you're not alone...some mysterious girl is at your side and since she can't climb the way Ico can, you'll have to figure out a way for her too...
So bottom line, if you own a PS2 and missed this game, try to get a hold of it and don't let go. This game is in my dream top 3 of games that need a remake on the PS3, just behind Final Fantasy 7 and Shadow of the Colossus.
+ A game worth remembering
+ Very well designed
+ Good puzzles
- No tutorial for the game mechanics
- Annoying vibration feature (you can turn that off)- Hard to get these days (very expensive on eBay)
Team Ico on Wikipedia
Ico Walkthrough on Youtube