ICO Review: Magic Sleep

ICO Review

Ico is a sleeper hit that has its root in classical games, but revolutionizes the very foundations on which it was built. Under development for a long time, and released with little support, ICO is a sleeper hit.

At its core a simple, almost classical game, ICO has proven to be a great game, with an interestingly created and detailed storyline for RPG lovers. The game is undoubtedly driven by aesthetic mood, though this works in harmony with gameplay it produces.

Ico, a young boy born with a set of bull horns, has recently come of age. According to village practice, this means he must be sacrificed. So he is ushered by horse and by skiff to a remote castle and locked into a standing stone tomb. But due to some seismic fluctuation, he manages to escape. Upon doing so, he notices an almost ethereal girl locked in a giant birdcage. He makes it his business to set her free. All of this is communicated by the game’s opening sequence, which ends with Ico standing in the huge chamber, his scrawny form eclipsed by the titan structure.

From that point on, you control Ico, helping him traverse the many hazards and obstacles found throughout the castle. The game is not unlike the classic Prince of Persia with objectives and control mechanics are self-evident, with the main challenge found in its subtle environmental puzzles. Light physical puzzles are also present, but they’re seldom focused upon. You will grasp the game’s simple control scheme almost immediately, and very few permutations exist. Combat is similarly understated; you basically encounter one type of monster, which you can attack with one move. As such, the game will likely disappoint those craving mechanical depth. But if you’re playing ICO for a heavy combat experience, you might be playing the wrong game.

Everyone that appreciates brilliant atmospheric design in games will want to check out ICO. Few games are as seamless, or as elegantly bold, from a gameplay standpoint. ICO serves as a bold and strong statement to the potential of video games to really give a different outlook on the power that impressive and strong design displays.

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