Monday, 23 March 2009

Thing 45: Ico

Ico was not my first gaming love on the PlayStation 2; I think that by the time I got around to playing it I had already sampled Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X, both of which still have a strong pull on me in terms of the storyline (if not necessarily by their gameplay at times), but there is something fabulously haunting about Ico that has drawn me back in as I start to replay it.

Ico is a boy who is different: cursed with horns he is taken to an ancient castle and imprisoned so that the people of his village will not be cursed as well. Freed from his prison by an earthquake he wanders the castle, finding Yorda, a strange and fragile girl who is pursued by shadowy creatures. Together they travel through the castle, looking for a way out...

...which does nothing to describe the beauty of the game. Essentially a puzzle game, it would be an interesting thing if it were just about this one solitary child trying to find his way out of the castle. By adding the dynamic created by the character of Yorda, who is not under your control, cannot fend for herself, is too physically slight to perform some of the tasks that you can - something else is created. You are not equals, you are her protector, and very quickly you get into the mindset of thinking, "OK, I can do this and this to get to the doorway; how am I going to get Yorda there?"

And the puzzles are fiendish at times! I've played the game once before, and while things are exactly the same on a second play through I've already reached a point where I'm thinking, "And what do I do here?"

I'll write again when I have finished replaying the game, but will probably focus more on the emotional impact that Ico has than on the game mechanics. It's a beautiful, beautiful game... I'd go and play it some more now but I'm supposed to be working!

(which clearly isn't what I'm actually doing, as I'm blogging, oh well)


Matt_Evans said...

Gosh, I really want to play Ico. I've not taken the time to track down a copy

But I loved Shadow of a Colossus, and so Ico has always piqued my interest

zero_zero_one said...

You have to try it at some point Matt, it's seriously good.

I had a major problem this evening though, my memory card decided to throw a hissy fit, and when I restarted the PS2 it had deleted my Ico save game!!! :( Time to start again, plow my way through the first four hours of the game...