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I played The Last Guardian, and now I'm in love with a big friendly cat-dog-bird

I played The Last Guardian, and now I'm in love with a big friendly cat-dog-bird

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Let me tell you about my new friend Trico. He’s kind of like a giant half-bird, half-cat, half-dog... thing. And after playing the first 45 minutes of The Last Guardian — an actual game that’s actually coming out this year on October 25th — I really think I’ve made a connection.

Truth be told, I’ve known about Trico for years, but I never thought we’d actually ever meet. Yet here we are.

Similar to its predecessor Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian revolves around climbing large creatures and larger, elaborate architecture. (Also similar to that game, movement can feel a bit jerky at times.) The demo opens on the first time the main character, a young boy covered in mysterious markings, "meets" Trico, and without spoiling the moment, it’s not exactly a smooth beginning.

Trico is a rather large and at times temperamental presence whose expressiveness extends to the glow of its eyes; a purplish hue indicates aggression and distrust, while a yellow hue is cautious and curious.

I never controlled Trico directly, instead calling upon him at times to act as transportation, a bridge, or a cuddly stepladder. For the most part, Trico would follow, but sometimes it was distracted by food (hey, I get it — me, too). Left alone, Trico sat patiently, or curled up as if to take a nap.

What really surprised me was how, in this sampling of an origin story, I made an instant connection. If I was running ahead, I moved the camera in an awkward way to watch Trico try to catch up. I dreaded leaving Trico’s side — not because I sensed danger that only a giant bird-cat could face, but because I just felt lonely. At one point, I missed Trico making a big splash into water because I was off foraging to find it food.

I’m still unclear on the game’s driving force — only in the final moments of the demo does the game even hint at some of the conflict that lies ahead — but the story is ultimately one of a boy and his giant bird-cat-dog-chicken thing. And after all this time, I’m surprised to find myself so curious where that relationship goes.

I miss my friend Trico already.

The Last Guardian is launching on October 25th for PlayStation 4.