Last week I was ill. Not deathbed kind of ill, but ill enough to get a couple of hours at home while my wife took the kids out. Recuperation involved having a go on The Last Guardian, which I had just borrowed from a friend. And it was what happened when the kids got back which surprised me.
The Last Guardian is a PS4 exclusive game about a boy and a massive bird-dog thing called “Trico”. Trico is essentially a giant dog, with feathers and wings, who behaves like a 20 foot tall puppy. The story is very minimal, with you waking up not knowing where you are or why, next to the afore-mentioned bird-dog thing that was chained up and injured.
Initially, Trico is very wary of you and will act quite hostile towards you until you earn his trust. The first 30 minutes was made up of releasing Trico and trying to escape from the initial stoney room we woke up in, by solving puzzles which relied on both of us working together. During this time you only control the boy. Trico is his own beast (metaphorically and literally) and will do whatever he likes.
I had just emerged into a green clearing, when the kids arrived back.
Child 2 comes barrelling in, stops, looks at the TV and asks, “Daddy, are you a girl?”
This question gets asked whenever Child 2 sees any game that Daddy is playing, since I was caught playing Mirrors Edge and I had to explain that, in the game, I was a woman. Child 2 ran to Child 1, explained that Daddy was a girl, and there was then much laughter at Daddies expense.
“No, I’m a small boy.”
More laughter. Trico was then spotted on the screen.
“Daddy, is that monster trying to get you?”
“No, it’s my friend”, I explained. At this point Trico, walks up to me, so I give it a stroke to show the kids it’s friendly. Both kids sit down next to me and start asking about Trico;
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“I don’t know, but probably a boy”, although I had nothing to base this on.
“Can he fly?”
“No, his wings don’t work”, I explained in great detail.
I showed the kids how we feed Trico with the blue glowing barrels we find throughout our trip. This simple act of giving Trico food showed how he acts little a real animal. Initially he won’t eat with you close to him, sometimes he wolfs it down straight away, and other times he will play with it for a while before deciding to eat.
Now we are not a big pet family, but we did have a couple of fish, a Hamster (rest in peace Peppa), and we currently have Mr Whiskers the (girl) rabbit, but after playing The Last Guardian for a while Trico was looked at as a sort of pet.
There was a part early on when Trico couldn’t get through a gap that I could. He pushed some of his head and one paw through, couldn’t go any further and started whimpering. I needed to find another way for him to get through. On one side of the room there was a stairway leading up, and I thought I should explore to try and find another way.
“Don’t leave him Daddy!” Child 2 exclaimed. He seemed to care about this huge, high definition Tamagotchi.
“Don’t worry. I’m going to find another way for him to get through.”
I went to the top of the stairs, and found a bird-dog sized opening. Trico appeared below, looked up at me for a few seconds, and then leapt up with surprising agility, considering he would weigh as much as a London Bus. We were together again, and the kids were happy.
As this carried on, I made sure to always keep an eye on where Trico was and what he was doing. The boys loved it that this massive animal would just start playing with something he found, or was scared of water. I started to become my own film director, trying to show the kids what Trico was doing while making steady progress.
Later that day, the kids were talking about what we had done with Trico and more questions were asked. I have never seen the kids get this involved with a game character. Mr Whiskers is going to need a bigger hutch.