Ico

Ico cover art.

Soundbite:

With a unique presentation and visual style combined with challenging puzzle solving, Ico brings together a great story with vast environments that garnered it critical acclaim.

Premise:

Ico, a boy born with horns, is left in a vast fortress as a sacrifice. His village believes that children born with horns are omens of an ancient curse returning to the land. In order to rid themselves of any possibility of the curse returning this time, warriors lock Ico away in a fortress as a sacrifice to the spirits on his 12th birthday. After the warriors leave, however, an earthquake rocks the fortress sending Ico and the stone crypt he was locked away in tumbling to the floor. While exploring the fortress, Ico comes across a pale girl locked in a cage. Ico finally manages to set the girl free only for shadow creatures to rise out of portals on the floor and try to abduct her. Ico fights off the creatures and pulls the girl, named Yorda, to safety. They then set out to escape the fortress but must brave a dangerous environment including fighting the Queen of the fortress, Yorda’s mother, who sends her shadow creatures after Ico and Yorda while closing off exits to the world outside.

Notes:

  • Largely influenced later games like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with it’s soft lighting visual style.
  • Lack of a Head’s Up Display (HUD) helps the styling of the game and sense of aloneness it fosters.
  • Although visually excellent, the game controls are not as accurate as they could be and collision detection could be better as well.
  • Leading Yorda around the environments while trying to battle off the shadow creatures can grow frustrating at times.

Grade:

While showing its age many years after it came out, Ico still delivers a great game with excellent graphics and decent controls for platform exploring. Worth a buy or rent. 8/10