What’s So Special About the Team Ico Trilogy?

-by Dylan DiBona

There are top tier series like The Legend of Zelda or Halo, and then there is a group of loosely connected games from a small Sony owned team known as Team Ico. Team Ico started their little trio of games with Ico on the PS2, then moving onto the cultural behemoth known as Shadow of the Colossus, and then finally the controversial The Last Guardian. For some, these games are just pretentious boring experiences with nothing to show. For others like me, these games capture imagination and simple interactivity.

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Baby Steps

I can understand why some may shrug at Ico; it was like building blocks for the team. With this game they were learning how to contrast environments, solid gameplay and a light but intriguing story. To me Ico is special because the entire game is an escort mission, one done fairly well. There’s this mysterious feeling in every empty space of Ico and it’s characters. There’s also a simple beauty within the relationship between the titular character and Yorda, the girl you guide. They don’t even speak the same language, but through the power of humanity they form a tight bond and rely on each other.

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One Colossal Leap Forward

Can you think of another time where only after releasing a second game a studio is propelled into the spotlight? With Shadow of the Colossus, Team Ico obviously had some high aspirations and they paid off. Players around the globe still remember this gem of a game for its intense boss battles, huge world to explore, tons of gear to collect and of course the ending.

Shadow of the Colossus was much more exciting for everybody, you were no longer a kid but an adult trying to save a woman he cares for; you’re not just solving puzzles, you’re killing them. It’s a special game filled with moral ambiguity.

I’ll never forget first booting up this game and exploring for about thirty minutes, completely lost. I ran around an empty temple looking for the first boss totally confused. Shadow of the Colossus was the first time a game made me think about the environments I was exploring.

“Why is this here?”

“What is it?”

“What was it used for?”

“Who used it?”

These thoughts flooded my mind throughout every second of exploration. This feeling is obvious in newer games like Limbo and Inside as well; something about a sinister mystery really pulls me in.

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A Minor Step Back

For about a decade, Team Ico received controversy over it’s constantly delayed title The Last Guardian. What was promised to be a PlayStation 3 game with amazing AI turned out be a PlayStation 4 game with decent AI. Although it had its shortcoming within the gameplay and AI companion, The Last Guardian was like a fusion of Team Ico’s past two games. The sense of wonder and magic was still there, and much like Ico, the focus of this game is a relationship. This time it’s not even between humans, but life.

It’s easy to hate on this trilogy of games or call them indie games with triple-A budgets, but there’s one reason why that stand out to me: curiosity. I love exploring this hollow fantasy world and wondering what the heck is going on. It’s not the colossi, or the shadows- it’s about the wonder. That’s what’s so special about Team Ico’s trilogy.

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Any Team Ico fans here? Which of the trilogy is your favorite? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

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3 thoughts on “What’s So Special About the Team Ico Trilogy?

  1. I loved Shadow of the Colossus, especially how Wander is portrayed as a type of “villain” or anti-hero (again, something I babble about elsewhere haha). I never finished ICO, but I liked it. The simplicity of it, and the mystery of the whole story. There was also something very profound about Yorda that I never discovered (since I didn’t finish the game), but considering she flopped around like a rag-doll when running and then could move statues with her mind, I want to go back and discover who she really was.

    I haven’t played Last Guardian yet, but I read somewhere that it’s an interesting take on the escort mission – that you are actually playing as the one *being* escorted, since you’re so weak next to your companion. Have you heard about this theory? Does it hold up during the actual game? Or should I just to play it for myself (haha)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting take on The Last Guardian but honestly I don’t see it like that since the child is the one doing most of the work. But seeing as the creature doesn’t actually realize that he’s being escorted, that theory may hold up!

      I would definitely recommend playing it for yourself! I usually don’t see too many good third person action-adventure games outside of Zelda, but TLG is pretty good (even thought it has plenty of annoying parts) it’s the perfect $30-$40 game.

      Like

  2. Awesome article! I’ve only played Shadow of the Colossus, but it’s amazing. I actually own Ico and The Last Guardian but haven’t gotten around to them. I’m pretty sure I need to play them soon though! I love the puzzle style associated with the games.

    Liked by 1 person

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