Games like 'Half-Life 3' and 'The Last Guardian' (TLG) have been a long time coming, and seemed to have become industry jokes for never releasing and disappearing without explanation. And then suddenly TLG had a release date (which got pushed a little recently). This morning I saw the creator of the Momodora series lament the hype-hate-train (my term) of TLG.
It feels like I woke up in bizarro world. Tons of people rooting for The Last Guardian to be a massive failure. What the fuck?— rdein (@r_rdein) September 16, 2016
It wasn't something I'd noticed, but I can only imagine Momodora-persona being correct, that previewers were hating, and I thought 'but of course'. Not because I have a critical view of games journalists (although I do) but because of history.
Many years ago I read about a PS2 game called Ico. Shadow of the Colossus had just been announced and the writer was pining for this new experience after 'feeling' so much though Ico. I had to try that game. I tracked down a copy in good condition and popped it into the PS2 and proceeded to hate every single second of it. The controls were clunky, the main character annoyingly slow, the camera a bother, the graphics were blurry, the environments were empty and the difficulty was janky. I quickly quit and a friend borrowed the game for a few weeks, but didn't get anywhere himself.
Eventually I got it back and tried again, completing it in a single day. I had let the game's oddities settle and suddenly I appreciated the game for its less than stellar aspects while loving what it tried to do: The hand-holding mechanic, the scarce music, slow and deliberate pace. This was an acquired taste and didn't give a damn about how to create a pleasant interactive experience. I posit that this game truly gave rise to the aspect of indie games concerning walking simulators and attempting to let players experience serious story telling. I contend that others have succeeded, but Ico succeeded in what it did. Eventually coming to love the game, I too looked forward to Shadow of the Colossus and appreciated that as well for all its quirks while succeeding in what it was trying to do. Clearly it was more 'game-like' in its execution, but still it had clunky controls, blurry graphics and empty scenery.
Time has passed though, and although Ico and Shadow were re-released, few game are made like them. Games with little regard for how games are supposed to be made and only focused on what the creators are interested in succeeding. Games are more often than either good or bad at being enjoyable experiences.
It might sound obvious, but I suspect TLG will continue in the vein of Ico and Shadow. And after so many years of getting games that are designed to succeed in a certain mannerism, it is going to be hard to argue that TLG can get away with being in development for so long and not be a truly pleasant and well-designed experience like most action-adventures are striving to be. I don't know what took almost ten years in this game's development process, but I suspect it won't be appreciated for what it is doing right away.