ICO | A Hidden Gem.

Tuesday 5 September 2017

I recently started to play ICO after coming across it a few months ago, I had no idea there was any connection with ICO and Shadow of Colossus until I looked at what other consoles ICO was available on. ICO is a hidden gem to me, it was originally developed for PS1 but was eventually released on PS2 instead. Ico is a Sony exclusive game and was released back in 2001, ten years later ICO and Shadow of Colossus collection were released on PS3, with this released the game's graphics were also improved, the characters were a lot clearer to see as well as the detail of the castle. I really enjoyed the storyline for Ico, at the start of the game you come to meet a young boy called Ico who was born with horns, he has come of age to be sacrificed by his village who would practice ritual a lot. Ico is taken away on a horse to a remote castle where he is put inside of a tomb, he manages to escape the tomb but in order to escape properly, he must find a way out of the castle, as he is exploring he comes across a young girl trapped inside a birdcage. Ico helps get her out of it and we come to learn that the girl's name is Yorda.

Yorda is one of the main characters along with Ico and The queen, throughout the game Ico has to make his way around the castle (and outside of it) and overcome obstacles in his and Yordas way. In order to keep Yorda with Ico he has to fight off these black demons who keep trying to pick her up and take her into the black holes that appear on the floor, whilst playing as Ico you're able to grab Yorda's hand and guide her around with you, you can also call out to her to make her follow you. As you're working your way around the castle you will find that some of your surroundings become dark and creep and other parts of the castle are bright and almost dreamlike. Further, in the game, you learn that the black demons are in fact the souls of the children that the village sacrificed which in a way feels morbid to me, their poor souls are trapped within that castle and they can never leave.

This game is more about the storyline then things being blown up and gore, the puzzles are a huge part in the game which a lot of people may find annoying but in order to carry on you with Yorda you will need to complete these puzzles, they're nothing too crazy just your typical levers and jumps so they're easy enough to solve. Along with puzzle solving you will need to help Yorda climb ledges and call her when she becomes afraid or worried about going forward, so whilst doing this you could find yourself having to fight off the enemies before they can carry her off! A lot of the game will be mostly you trying to fight off the enemies to save Yorda but this to me made it clear of how hard the Evil Queen was fighting to keep her within that castle. I wasn't a huge fan of the controls, I think it was due to the fact I'm so used to playing with my PS4 controller that it took me a while to get used to them in ICO, there is only one attack button and me being me loves a combo of buttons to use when it comes to fighting, the R1 button is for the sole use to help Yorda, you can hold her hand and pull her a long, help her climb up and call her name all whilst pressing this button which is simple and straight forward to do. 

Now a lot of people are graphic snobs, I'm not one of them, I tend to enjoy a game to its full potential and appreciate the effort that's gone into it rather than moaning that the graphics aren't as good as today's graphics. What you have to remember is this game was released back in 2001 on PS2 so the graphics themselves have aged a lot, but this doesn't take away how beautiful they game is as a whole, the developers made the game more detailed than you would imagine, The way the trees move in the wind make it seem almost lifelike. I really enjoyed watching the cut scenes, there weren't that many so you didn't spend the majority of the game watching but the ones shown portrayed the story beautifully. The sound sets the scenes wonderfully (even if there isn't much of it) it fits well with what part of the story you're on, it doesn't over power the game either which I like, there is a lovely little tune that played when you sit on the sofa looking seats in order to save the game which I find adorable and of course there is a certain sound that plays when an enemy is near or appears. What you will find in the game is that Ico and Yorda don't speak the same language so there is a big language barrier between them, yet they some how to find a way to get through the game in order to beat the Evil Queen who tells Ico and Yorda that Yorda can't survive outside of the castle... or can she?

I don't want to go into too much detail about that happens in the game because I feel like not enough people have played ICO and it's a game everyone should! I personally would play ICO, Shadow of Colossus and  The Last Guardian, you will see why once you've played them all. ICO is a short game, about 8 hours long, but it's a game you will want to play over and over again, it's beautifully put together and I wish I had found sooner. Why not check out my first thoughts on Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, another great game!

Elle May


  1. Ooh yes. I remember this game. It is beautiful and spooky. Great review!


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