|Genre||Boy and Girl Epic Adventure|
|Score||8 Gameplay: 8
Fun Factor: 9
|Buy from Amazon|
Ico is an adventure game in the greatest sense of the word. It was released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2001 and has a decent fanbase, helped by a sort of spiritual prequel in Shadow of the Colossus released in 2005. Ico is considered a prime example of video games being art, with many pointing at its stylistic graphics, lack of interface, and engrossing story as highlights. The game sold best in Europe, part of which I attribute to bad box-art syndrome. Check out the Japanese/European cover in the infobox, and here's the North American cover. I honestly don't know who approves this crap.
Ico can definitely feel weird to those unaccustomed to its loose controls and floaty gameplay. One of my friends said he couldn't finish Shadow of the Colossus for that very reason. Well, unfortunate for them because Ico plays awesome. The game doesn't provide you with a tutorial or even onscreen guides on what buttons to press, it expects you to figure them out yourself, and you do, quickly. From then on you're jumping across large gaps, whooping down on shadow creatures, and saving Princess Yorda from black holes.
Another positive and negative, first, the negative. Some of the battles last a long time, and most of that time is just spent waiting for the enemy to get back up again so you can knock them back down on the ground. Fighting is honestly repetitive, but thankfully the game focuses more on adventuring and exploration that battling. And now, the positive, even though you're dragging the princess around most of the game, the hand holding does not feel wrong. Some games do it horribly, such as near the end of Metal Gear Solid 3, but Ico does it right. Yorda responds quickly and doesn't slow you down. Impressive.
Fun Factor: 9
A few things hold Ico back from being the epitome of fun, the biggest reason being the combat I described above. Other than that, this is an epic game with HUGE environments, challenging puzzles, and well integrated cutscenes. It's pretty short, probably took me around seven hours, but it's an excellent seven hours, and that is what counts.
Graphics and Sound: 7
Ico has a style all its own, its large environments leave things a bit fuzzy. The characters are always a little blurry, but I think this was actually the art style the team was going for. Nothing is exactly in focus in Ico, it's probably a representation of something I haven't figured out yet. The unfortunate part is that there is very little music in Ico, a missed opportunity for such a high art video game. As for the game's sound effects though, the main character has a highly memorable yell for the princess, a visceral cry. Undoubtedly the highlight of the game's audio.
A little adventure, a little mystery, a little romance; Ico is light on it all but what it presents it does marvelously. There's only three characters in the entire game: Ico (the horned boy), Princess Yorda, and the queen of the castle. Ico and Yorda are together most of the game but they can't even speak the same language, there's so much non-verbal interaction between the two. You can tell how much they care for each other and you're really pulling for the two by the end. The ending is also sad and uplifting, I was wowwed.
Ico is a very good adventure that is unlike any other. Exploration, experimentation, and curiousity reign in the queen's castle, and it will take a quick hand and a quicker mind to conquer it. Ico is a dandy though from start to finish, if you want to play a game that will tug on you, then this is it. Short, but the game does not misstep.