How 'The Last Guardian' uses gameplay to tell its story

Game Maker’s Toolkit reveals the design tricks that make the game so compelling.

Like with many ambitious works of art, it's fair to say that the reaction to The Last Guardian was pretty divisive. While many recognized last month's PS4 exclusive as a brilliant achievement, it is undoubtedly a game that bears the scars of its troubled nine-year development. Yet, despite its archaic controls, The Last Guardian achieves something that few games manage - it makes the player genuinely care about an AI companion. In a bid to explore how director Fumito Ueda achieved this, YouTuber Mark Brown has dissected the game mechanics of The Last Guardian in the latest video of his game design series, Game Maker's Toolkit.

Entitled "The Last Guardian and The Language Of Games", the video explores how the game uses its unique AI interaction to tell a story. Where most games rely on a series of cutscenes to build relatable characters, The Last Guardian instead embraces the interactive nature of the medium, cleverly using game mechanics to establish a bond between you and feathered companion Trico. Rather than being shown a passive relationship between two characters, you learn by interacting with Trico, earning each other's trust as you both work together along your dangerous journey.

With The Last Guardian coming out 11 years after Ueda's previous game, Shadow Of The Colossus, much of its lengthy development still remains a mystery. While we're hoping that the release of next month's companion book will shed some light on the game's difficult development, until then, this video is a great study on what makes The Last Guardian such a unique proposition.