The Disillusion of Ico?
Ico is one of those classic games a lot of gamers missed. Whether it was because of a lack of Sony consoles, or just never hearing about it, chances are you haven't played it. I could only welcome the initiative of re releasing two games regarded by some as the best in the world, and in HD no less! Gamers everywhere rejoiced, and so did I.
But then I played the game.
There is nothing fun about the game. It is essentially a glorified fetch quest, with a very annoying AI that does not always do what you ask her to do. The controls are clunky and inaccurate. I have so many stories of the boy deciding to jump where I did not tell him to jump, falling and dying, only to restart to the last door or worse, the last save point. The only redeemable quality would be the visuals. The game looks great, and the castle actually feels like a place where people could have inhabited before and not an excuse for puzzles.
That's what Ico is, beautiful set pieces, but nothing to back it up. It's not a video game, for the simple fact that it is not fun. I think this is a title that has been way over hyped to the point where we are forgetting what a video game is supposed to be about first and foremost: gameplay.
What a blasphemous introduction and title. As I sit in front of my laptop, reading it over and over, I can't help but feel a bit amused that I wrote this wholeheartedly yesterday. A lot has changed since yesterday. I am not sure what happened, and when it happened, but something clicked when I was done with the game. I realized that maybe, just maybe, the frustration I was feeling throughout the game was not because of the aforementioned issues I had with it. Maybe it was because I grew as a person. I changed, and my brain rejected that change, interpreting it as frustration. Yes, something happened, I grew alright, and I experienced so much in so little time.
I was a prince
The game opened and I was faced with rescuing this woman from a cage. The cage was suspended in the air, and she there helpless, covered in this ever glowing light. As I rush up the stairs, to her rescue, I barely had time to think about how she got there, and why I was doing it. It did not matter, I was a prince and she was my princess. I couldn't deceive her. I couldn't leave her there! It was my duty, it was my purpose at this exact moment. I was going to deliver her from the shackles of the game.
I was a lover
As I rescued her, the fiends that probably put here there started appearing. She held her hand in front of me, trying to caress my face but was suddenly taken away. She was my lover, and I had to free her from the hands of those evil monsters. I grabbed a stick and fought. I proved my love, I emerged victorious! I took her hand, she took mine, and our love was sealed forever. I would never let her go. Till death do us part. We sat down on a bench, our hands ever so slightly getting close to each other, like little kids and their first love: honest and pure.
I was a father
I became a father too. I looked out for her best interest. I defended her against those that thought ill of her. I helped her through obstacles she did not understand how to tackle. There were times where I was angry, shouting at her, reprimanding her. It was always with her best interest in mind though: I only wanted what was best for her. She did not always understand my actions, but I did what I did to protect her. Like a parent with his child's best interest always at heart, I carried her through the game valiantly.
I was a captive
The game opens with this mysterious woman dressed in white. She glows and she radiates. It then tasks me with one simple objective: live for her. For the duration of this odyssey, you will only act for her, feel for her, think of her. It holds me captive, makes demands and does not let me go. This situation leads to Stockholm syndrome: I am trapped with this girl, I do not want to be with her, I do not know her and therefore do not care about her, yet I start having feelings for her.
I was our savior
This is for me, the true beauty of Ico. Those ever conflicting emotions where, as the game traps me like a hostage with this woman, I fight the game to free her, and by proxy me, from this castle that represents our captor. This duality of hate and love from and for the same person.
Ico truly is a masterpiece of a game.