Something went wrong. Try again later


    Game » consists of 7 releases. Released Sep 24, 2001

    The story of a forsaken boy with horns and a mysterious girl who must work together to escape from the confines of an enormous castle.

    mystic_ode's ICO (PlayStation Network (PS3)) review

    Avatar image for mystic_ode
    • Score:
    • mystic_ode wrote this review on .
    • 2 out of 2 Giant Bomb users found it helpful.

    Would I reccomend you play ICO? [Non-Spoiler Review]

    ICO is an action-puzzle platformer. But I don't believe its listed genre properly explains it at all.

    It is true that the game has combat. It is true that the castle has puzzles. And the environment has obstacles.

    But these elements are in service to the pacing and tempo of the actual core: the escort mission.

    ICO is, above all else, an escort game. It was designed around the very premise, and every secondary aspect folds back into that core. You'll find the combat is very different from that of most combat-focused adventure games, because your health does not matter. You don't have a health bar. You can get knocked down in combat a thousand times, but it can't result in your death unless you're knocked off a high, unguarded platform and sent for a long fall (which is rarely even possible). The only other way you lose combat is by failing to protect your companion. And with this shift in priority, the combat serves the escort mission by creating tension regarding her safety.

    The puzzles are there to give you a moment to breathe and contemplate beside your companion. A break from the tension as you figure out how to use your surroundings to progress. After all, if you raced through everything, you'd never have the time to observe her actions and interpret them. Environmental design is also a strong point for this game, so it benefits your experience to take your time and explore/gaze about. You might even wonder what purpose these areas once served and how it relates to the history of the castle. These stopping points are important for this kind of contemplation.

    The platforming obstacles are something you overcome in order to allow your companion a safer route. It is an inherent kindness and accommodation to her, which the game requires for progression. Doing the tough work so that someone can access all the same areas you can is meant to feel like a reward to players of this game. Because the game expects you to care for this girl as a person and show the same respect you would to a real person in distress.

    So I'd say the first thing to think about when deciding if this game is right for you, is to ask: "Am I open to forming a bond with this NPC and do I think I would enjoy that?"

    Those who write off the concept of intentionally bonding with fictional characters will find nothing for them here. Furthermore, anyone under the impression that all escort missions are chores will likely create a self-fulfilling prophecy. And generally, anyone who does not emotionally invest themselves into the game will find they do not get much back in return.

    On the other hand, if you have a tendency to bond with companion characters to the point where it can cause uncomfortable levels of stress or anxiety if they're threatened, I would probably hold off on placing yourself in direct responsibility for such a character. I have seen people panic a lot during the aforementioned combat sections, many times out of helplessness and fear for their companion's safety. If you doubt that you can handle that situation, then I do not recommend this title for relaxing play.

    I would also generally dissuade players with photosensitive epilepsy from picking up this game, as it has a number of moments with flashing lights.

    If these caveats do not apply to you, you have a good chance of enjoying your time with this game, and I highly recommend it to you.

    There may be a few puzzles where you find difficulty due to poor framing of the objective or the means to solve it. But if you are playing the Playstation 3 copy, all these solutions will be telegraphed with patience and some time. If you are truly stumped, stay in one area and wait around, maybe step away with the game unpaused for a time, come back when you're ready and you might find something indicating your way forward. I hope that any hint provided is helpful to you.

    If you are playing this game on the Playstation 2, check the region it was made for. If it's the NTSC region, you will miss out on key features of the game that would make the experience a little smoother and add replayability. Should you wish, you can still play this older version of the game, released early to the American market, but please look to a guide if you get stuck in that version, as key objects won't be telegraphed the same way as they are in other copies.

    If you are comfortable with a dedicated escort mission and are looking for a beautiful setting with a simple, effective story to immerse yourself in for a few hours, this is the right place to go. Every time I have returned, I've found a 5/5 experience waiting for me.

    Other reviews for ICO (PlayStation Network (PS3))

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

    Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

    Comment and Save

    Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.