The Last Guardian: Prepare to Get Emotional


Having never played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus before, I have issues with how the recent trailer for The Last Guardian made me feel. The story seemed simplistic enough. Penny Arcade among others have remarked that there’s only two ways that game’s ending; The boy dies or the baby Gryphon thing dies.

The music (courtesy of the Coen Brother’s; Miller’s Crossing) is manipulative in the way it tweaks at your  emotions and brings up all your regrets and happy memories at once. And of course, the look of the game is beautiful, in that way Team Ico alone seem to be able to manage. Vast, empty, ruined lands, lonely individuals and a tender friendship, tempered by heartbreaking loss. I knew all this going in, and I’m a grown man with a beard, so why was I blubbering like a schoolgirl who’s just been called fat by the boy she’s been crushing on for years?

I can only assume it’s because deep down I’m a sucker for the emotional kick some very select games are capable of delivering. Due to the interaction, it’s often even more engaging than a film, book or TV show when a character you’ve been playing for hours suffers a great loss. These games stick with us and we all like to pick over them fondly in the weeks, months and years after completion, strangely content with the haunting effect they have had on us. Yesterday I bought Shadow of the Colossus on eBay for a hefty price, just so I can finally play this celebrated game and stop feeling like I’m missing out on servicing my soul.

Here are my top ten recommendations for games with an emotional punch that will stay with you.

Possible spoiler warnings if just knowing the titles of these is enough to help you work out what happens.


10. Fable II

9. Grand Theft Auto IV

8. Call of Duty 4:  Modern Warfare

7. Secret of Mana

6. The Darkness

5. God of War

4. Heavenly Sword

3. Mass Effect

2. Final Fantasy VII

1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance

Throw in Ico or Colossus by default since by all rights they’re superb. Now  I’ll probably go and hammer up some drywall while drinking beer off of a Playboy model and cheering on my favorite team, just to remind myself how a real man is supposed to behave.

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  • Michael Cooper (Snaven Shake)

    I disagree with you on one thing…

    There are 3 ways it could end…

    Boy Dies
    Griffin Dies

  • alti

    or.. they both live happily ever after?

    other sad things an happen. Might leave a sublime feeling if they live. c’mon now.

    I’d be fine if it ended with a big bushy griffin hug

  • J.R. Hannemeier

    All I know is that those ten are absolutely laughable compared to the glory of Team ICO. It reads like an obituary as if killing off a character amounts to emotion and depth, when you actually have nothing real vested in those characters to begin with, unlike Team ICO games, where you build up a relationship and no one dies in the end. That’s not a spoiler, by the way. Team ICO couldn’t care less about petty stories and cheap shocks. It’s about emotion, through and through.

    I hope you enjoy SotC, Alex. Treat the horse like a horse with a mind of its own, not a vehicle, try to ignore the ultimately superficial technical flaws and enjoy an experience light years ahead of anything any other dev has ever produced.

  • RaduN

    They will definitelly try to create an emotional link between the 2 characters, that’s for sure. Will they succede? We’ll see.

    My No.1 most emotional game must be MGS4:GOTP. I had misty eyes in more moments than i care to admit.
    MGS3’s very end scene was a heart-breaker as well ^_^
    This is what you get when some of them ost talented storytellers of the new generation make video games!

  • AJ

    “Having never played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus before”

    And why haven’t you played these games before?

  • Joseph

    All I can say is, enjoy SotC and be prepared to cry like a baby- a hungry angry baby.

  • meep

    i doubt either will truly die, team ico is a sucker for a “happy” ending

  • Joe

    It may be designed to have multiple endings depending on how you play. I just hope the boy doesn’t ditch the Gryphon like Mario does yoshi.

  • Ben

    Or the boy has to kill the suddenly grown up griffin at the end to save the day, that would probably make me cry