I finished the Last Guardian over Christmas, and it is my favourite game from last year. In my final year module, next semester, I will be focusing on teaching about programming AI in games. From this perspective the creature AI in the Last Guardian is fascinating. For me, the gameplay, story and puzzle design are more absorbing and immersive than those in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. However, it’s the relationship between the player character and his creature companion, Trico, that makes the game stand out from other games. At times the interaction with Trico can be frustrating but when it works the action can be breathtaking, and as a player, you can become very attached to Trico. The fact that Trico doesn’t always do what you want it to do can add to the realism of the creature intelligence, especially if you own pets and can relate to real animal behaviour. The imperfection of the AI reminds us how difficult the task was and how well it has this has been achieved. The Last Guardian provides a state-of-the-art example of how to create AI companions that are essential to gameplay, and to whom the player can develop a strong emotional connection. I consider the game not only rewarding to play due to the story, world and puzzle design but also found the end of the game moving in a way that I usually only experience through reading books or watching movies. It is has been argued that Trico provides a role model for chat bot agent design, such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google.
I played fewer games last year than I would usually but I did complete Doom and Inside, which are two fun and well-designed games. The two most voted games of the year seem to be Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Overwatch, both of which I have played quite a bit and have enjoyed. However, if you consider yourself a student of games and are interested in game design, then the Last Guardian is clearly the most novel and worth the time that you would spend on it (10-15 hours). Don’t miss out by not playing it.