Monday, September 02, 2002

I just finished playing Ico with Sarah and Maria. If a video game can be art, this is it.

Approached as an interactive and emotionally satisfying bedtime story, Ico succeeds wonderfully. - Next Generation Magazine

I think that line sums up Ico nicely. It's a story of a young boy, Ico, imprisoned in a castle who frees a mysterious princes who is being held by the queen of the castle. In a traditional quest to free the princes, the princess is a goal at the end with no character. In Ico, the princess Yorda is an active part of the game. Ico must defend her from the evil wraith that try to kidnap her, and solve the puzzles in each section of the castle to lead Yorda out. As you progress through the game, over coming challenges, Yorda and Ico form an emotional bond that gives the game real depth.

At it's heart the game is a series of puzzles on how to move Yorda through the castle. Climb this chain her, pull that switch, move that box. The puzzels are well done and enjoyable. Most of the puzzles involved careful observation. Lots of "hey is that a door over there? Did you climb that ledge?" We did need to consult the FAQ on the net, but usally to find that out that we missing some technique in controlling Ico. Being able to swing from a chain or jump and the slash to cut the ropes, two things we learned from the FAQ.

There is some combat in the game. As mentioned there are some evil creatures, goasts made of black smoke that try and take Yorda from Ico. Ico is armed only with a stick, and later a sword that he uses to beat the creatures back.. When beaten the creatures disappear in a puff of smoke. The girls found the monsters creepy enough to be scared, but not so much that they were disturbed by them. In a departure from tradition Ico does not have a health meter, his mission is just to keep the bad guys from pulling Yorda through their portal into the dark realm. The vilians can momentarily disable Ico, but nothing worse.

When ever the black gosts apeared the girls handed me the controls, to dispatch the monsters in the room. They were convinced that this was a "dad" duty, and I admit I enjoy playing the hero.

If you've got some time to spend with a couple of kids who like puzzles then I'd recommend Ico. We finished in just under 14 hours, not including mistakes and restarts. It's a one player game, but we played as team. We worked on the puzzles together, and I fought the monsters.


PS check out the Ico page on MetaCritic for tons of other reviews.

No comments: