Charts Genres Community
Charts Genres Community Settings
Login

ICO

Developer: Japan Studio Publisher: SCE
24 September 2001
ICO - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.04 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
1,015 Ratings / 10 Reviews
#141 All-time
#4 for 2001
Ico, a young boy adorned with horns upon his head, is locked up in an abandoned fortress by the superstitious people of his village. In there he encounters the princess Yorda, whose mother plans to use the young girl's body to extend her own longevity. The two attempt to escape the desolate fortress and fight off the shadowy creatures trying to keep the princess imprisoned within.
There was an error saving your submission.
Rate / catalog Rate / catalog another release
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Releases 7
Filter by: All 7 PS2 5 PS3 2
ICO
2001 Japan Studio SCE  
DVD
XNA 7 11719 71132 2 SCUS 97113
ICO
2001 Japan Studio SCE  
CD-ROM
JP 4 948872 110037 SCPS-11003
ICO Limited Edition
2002 Japan Studio SCE  
DVD
AU NZ 7 11719 34092 8 SCES-50760-ANZ
Show all 7 releases
ICO Edición limitada
2002 Japan Studio SCE  
DVD
ES 7 11719 35192 4 SCES-50760
ICO PlayStation 2 the Best
2004 Japan Studio SCE  
CD-ROM
JP 4 948872 191517 SCPS 19151
ICO
2011 Japan Studio Bluepoint  
Blu-ray
JP 4 948872 730709 BCJS 30070
ICO
2012 SCEJ Bluepoint  
Download
Write review
Title
In an industry that has always run with the idea of "bigger, better, and faster", Ico was the milestone of the PS2-generation that implied the true future of video games lies in minimalism and player connectivity.

You can almost feel the testosterone of a Gears fanboy spiking the Ico lovefest of recent years. The game, when played by the wrong person, can be outright offensive. "I've played Zelda, dammit! I know you can do more in a video game than this!" they might yell. The idea of Ico being a piece of art isn't reinforced by its overly sentimental fanbase, but by the way it feels completely alien to some players even though it remains grounded in gameplay not too distant from more popular titles.

Ico's presence as minimal art can be narrowed down into a list: no HUD, IDM score, no real dialogue, etc. It's a matter of class. Team Ico who-- you guessed it! --developed Ico modeled the game entirely around what the core experience is and what would detract from it. The idea that your character cannot die in combat would break a The Legend of Zelda [ゼルダの伝説] game, but since Ico's main concern varies from those games it works as a strength. At Ico's core is the player's connection to Yorda, the girl you have at your side for the better part of the game, dragging her along every step of the way. While the audio and art direction are sublime, it is the core experience delivered through the platforming and puzzles that makes it a timeless adventure.

Since the PlayStation-era, games have grown more and more obsessed with player connection through cinematic presentation. Instead of deep storytelling, Ico creates a tangible emotional connection in the player through subliminal elements. The way the controller vibrates when you grab hold of Yorda's hand, the loneliness of the game's world, and the haunting music all exhort an emotional reaction out of the player that most games would try to attempt forcefully via FMVs and lengthy cut-scenes. It's remarkable how well Ico works without these things, as only an hour into the game I would feel my heart rate escalate when I had to leave Yorda behind or when I had to make a jump I wasn't quite sure I could manage. I didn't know why I was at this castle, I didn't know who Yorda was, but I wanted to escape it with her by my side. Through crafting a believable world with elegant presentation, Ico turned the 8-bit joke of saving the princess into an actual concern.

Between Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Final Fantasy X [ファイナルファンタジーX], the PS2 era came into its own in 2001. Even with all Ico's heart and ambition, I can't say it's a superior game than those two. Yet, as a pure experience, Ico will forever be put in the hall of fame for the simplicity of its design (have I mention how the game is actually fun?) and its brilliant presentation. The "games as art" discussion has become null in recent years, between the chiptune scene and 8-bit decals in the walls of every nerd's home. Games have always been art. It wasn't until Ico that gamers got a real taste of games that stirred up emotion in the player through sheer interaction and existence in a different world.

Ico's ending won't make you cry and the games making you feel lonely dates back to Metroid [メトロイド], but 2001 brought about the first game to fill gamers with an intangible connection to an unrealistic scenario. And, it was all done through the player convincing his or herself through a personal connection to the world, not in-game cinemas and plot devices.
Body
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
SUPER_Lonely_Panda 2016-04-03T23:58:43Z
2016-04-03T23:58:43Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Supplement
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Attribution
Requested publishing level
Draft
Commentary
Review
review
en
Expand review Hide
Title
bench
Body
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
yoitu 2023-10-05T17:14:38Z
2023-10-05T17:14:38Z
›80%
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Supplement
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Attribution
Requested publishing level
Draft
Commentary
Review
commentary
en
Expand review Hide
Title
Ico is one of the first examples I think of when someone notions the concept of an “artistic video game.” Several gamers, including myself, would argue that all video games are inherently art, as it is the golden rule of artistic classification not to compartmentalize a medium for the sake of integral cohesiveness. However, we have to make this distinction between the “regular” video games and the more artistically-inclined ones because there are still a large portion of cultural philistines that still oppose gaming’s deserved ranks of respect with film, music, literature, etc. As of a few years ago, video games started outselling the film industry, so how does that grab you? *Ahem*...anyways, despite how prevalent video games have become as a source of entertainment in the pop culture zeitgeist over the past few decades or so, there is still a vocal pushback against the medium reaching its well-deserved place of recognition. One might blame Roger Ebert for his notorious op-ed decrying that video games could never be art, but he was simply someone with a credible platform echoing the status quo. Because video games are still met with an air of prejudice from the arbiters of high art, some game developers craft their work with heavy deliberation to prove them wrong. To be classified in the canon of artistic video games, one has to subvert the presentational, mechanical, and narrative tropes commonly found across most video games. In the modern gaming landscape, the medium has progressed to the point where subversiveness has to be implemented for the sake of standing out among the saturated marketplace, and the stark creativity makes a game inherently artistic by proxy. I suppose Ico is the first example that comes to many people’s minds regarding this topic because it was one of the first notable games that dared to challenge the medium’s conventions for the sake of making a work of art.

To fully comprehend the intended artistic scope of Ico, perhaps it would be wise to draw parallels between it and the arthouse film world. Since the early years of the medium, several directors saw a great potential in using film as a means of expression beyond commercial means. These films are challenging, oftentimes surreal experimentations with narrative, characters, and several other typical film attributes. Most of these films are produced outside of the sphere of Hollywood in the foreign lands of Europe and Asia, and the American filmmakers that fit the arthouse denomination usually produce their films independently. They’re the filmmakers that make every college film professor get an emphatic hard-on just by mentioning their name. Robert Bresson, anyone? Like the aforementioned French arthouse director, Ico’s direction is minimalist to a fault, an ascetic choice to discern its heightened artistic merits from the accessible exhilaration found in most video games.

A lack of context for the game’s plot premise is one of the many artful elements not found in typical video game narrative, or at least not in the 3D era. A group of men on horseback ride through a shimmering, serene forest with a young, horned boy straddled as a passenger. Once they reach a dead end at the cliff’s edge facing an absolutely immaculate landscape, the men decide to tread through the river below by boat to transport the boy to the castle that resides on the other side. Through a series of elevators and unlocking a few obstructive gates that divide in two in the presence of a sword that emits magic, their destination point in this vacant fortress is a spacious chamber with wall to wall stone pods symmetrically aligned like library bookshelves. The men place the boy in one of the pods and leave him with the parting words of “do not be angry with us. This is for the good of the village.” With a stroke of pure luck, the boy manages to escape his state of entombment when the castle shakes and he falls out of his pod when it collapses onto the floor. The boy climbs the spiral staircase to the upper reaches of the chamber and finds a poor girl curiously imprisoned in a giant bird cage dangling from the ceiling. The boy feels inclined to share his relieving feeling of freedom, so he smashes the cage with the force of his body and liberates the girl from her comically-sized and probably symbolic prison cell. From there on out, the two are an inseparable duo working together to escape the fortress’s oppressive boundaries.

I don’t mean to pick on Zelda but considering Nintendo’s glorious IP is arguably the gaming series most synonymous with the fantasy theming, I have to use it as an example to compare and contrast the way Ico establishes its mythical setting. Many Zelda titles introduce the player to the world, setting, and characters with an illustrated slideshow of yore, giving as much exposition as the opening credits in Star Wars. Thanks to the loglines of exposition, we are immediately privy to the epic scale of the game’s narrative and Link’s elevated role as Hyrule’s chosen protector. While providing an extensive backstory of Hyrule’s lore and current state of affairs is never a detriment in unfolding the narrative, one could still argue that the intended epic scale would be more effective if the game only showed the player the stakes of Link’s adventure rather than telling us from the get-go. We’re supposed to give this small, prepubescent boy the benefit of the doubt that he’s the valiant hero destined to slay the imposing, malevolent forces of the world when he can’t even grow pit hair yet. The boy in Ico, on the other hand, is introduced with zero information about his background or any inkling of what his intended arc is as the game’s protagonist. Is he also a pint-sized prince of peace like Link facing a moment of persecution here from an unjust society, or do his former acquaintances have every right to condemn him to a stationary state of solitude for the rest of his natural born life? What exactly is the boy’s crime that justifies this cruel fate? Murder? Theft? Was he framed? We have no idea. We also have no clue on the status of the anemic, consumptive-looking girl he freed either. With a prevalent sense of ambiguity, it adds a level of rich mystique to the story. The player should ideally be eager to piece together their own conclusions with context clues, heightening the interactivity of an already interactive medium.

Ico commits to the minimalist direction for every facet of the game’s identity. On top of delivering story exposition in the sparsest manner possible, Ico’s presentation is the video equivalent of a Steven Reich composition. One might not even notice when the opening sequence of cutscenes is over because the game makes no clear indication that it’s the player’s time to help the boy get the hell out of dodge. A signifier that usually would tip the player off is a hud appearing on the screen, displaying important references like health, equipment, stamina, etc. When the player presses the pause menu, the only options are to adjust the volume/display picture and to quit the game. There is no inventory screen, or status details, and there certainly isn’t a page dedicated to collectibles. There isn’t even any music that accompanies the gameplay minus a select few cues for a few situations. All Ico presents the player with is the horned boy in an uncaring world with the wind blustering over the high-elevation cliffside, with total uncertainty hanging in the balance. Somehow, Ico omitting gaming’s primary referential tools does not handicap the player with an unnecessary blindspot as one would expect. Health is superfluous in Ico (except in the case of falling off of tall ledges) and the boy can only hold one blunt object, seen clearly in his right hand at all times. These common visual aids are rendered redundant and gratuitous for what Ico delivers, and insisting on implementing them would distract from one of Ico’s biggest appeals: its atmosphere. Without the videogamey white noise of a hud or level music, the player can fully immerse themselves in their surroundings. Whilst breathing in the fumes of Ico’s atmosphere like a fine wine, I detect a myriad of refined scents like melancholy, dread, isolation, helplessness, and a pinch of desperation. Even though all of these are negative descriptors, the sheer beauty of Ico’s cliffside setting makes the negativity permeate an aura of dark romanticism like an album from The Cure.

“Subtracting design” was the specific ethos that Ico director Fumito Ueda hammered in for Ico’s direction. Essentially, it’s the idea that less is more. Already through its narrative and presentation, Ico proves that this is a feasible philosophy not rife with contradictions. Still, the most effective aspect of showcasing Ueda’s radical ideas pertains to Ico’s gameplay. The closest video game genre one can pigeonhole Ico into is the puzzle platformer genre, involving executing feats of platforming to solve puzzles. No, I don’t think a fragment of Ueda’s ethos was to craft a cerebral, arthouse version of Q*Bert or Wario Land. Given that the game is confined to one setting, the more methodical puzzle platformer genre is a more appropriate fit to accommodate its slow-burn pacing. To achieve Ueda’s vision, nothing in Ico is conspicuous. The series of suspended platforms most platformer characters would ascend on to reach their goals is too unnatural and would compromise Ico’s deep immersion. The dilapidated fortress resembles an environment akin to something from reality, connoting that it does not offer any obvious avenues to success like a series of floating platforms would. The player is forced to humor any sort of protruding ledge as a viable means of traversal, shimmying across perilous gaps and executing awesome feats of parkour. Decor centerpieces such as ladders, boxes, and chain link ropes are strewn around the vicinity for clearer interactions. Still, the player has to use all of them as individual fractions of solving a platforming puzzle instead of acting as smooth solutions. There are also the select moments where the boy must ignite his torch to light fixtures and the fuses of bombs, but these instances aren’t as explosive as one might think.

So how does stripping down the elements of a platformer to its pure essence prove to be enticing for the player? Well, it comes down to warping the perspective. Because everything at the player’s disposal for platforming is humdrum and unobtrusive, suddenly, the most minute resources in solving puzzles become a point of potential interest. There is no wasted space in the foreground, or at least the player will be forced to figure out what its valuable assets are by tinkering with everything. Some argue that this makes the puzzles in Ico rather obtuse, but I think it's a brilliant way to make the player engage with their surroundings. The environmental cohesion also aids the game’s immersion by heightening that prevailing sense of realism. Puzzles in Ico are almost designed with how a real person would execute them, only if they had the nimbleness of a youthful kid and an impressive resilience to fall damage. They are also met with a realistic sternness beyond the little samples of gratification most games deliver. Unlike in Zelda, surpassing obstacles in Ico will not warrant a jaunty little jingle to signify a job well done.

The caveat to solving Ico’s puzzles is to not only consider how the boy will progress, but how to make the path traversable for the girl as well. Given the game’s premise of a boy rescuing a girl from captivity, one could infer from this that Ico is an elongated fetch quest, and it might make many gamers avoid this game like the plague. Unfortunately, this aspect of Ico is where the game falters. Naturally, the girl does not possess the same physical prowess as the boy, so she cannot climb the chain links, push the boxes, or scale the walls. In fact, the girl looked so frail and waifish that I was always concerned that the boy would pull her arm right out of its socket as he was dragging her around. The puzzles actually seem like the boy is constantly providing support for this girl to reach him at eye level, and this process can be insufferably wonky at times. AI during the early sixth generation of gaming wasn’t exactly sharp as a tack but dear God, the girl’s AI is downright aloof. She responds to the boy’s calling command quickly enough but she doesn’t seem to grasp why her presence is needed. She’s a horse that obliges when being led to the water but doesn’t know how to drink it. Of course, drinking it is the primary objective at hand and when she struggles with the analogous task of taking the boy's hand to climb or missing the ladder she’s being led towards while the boy is screaming at her from above. It could be due to the language barrier considering the boy’s subtitles are in plain English and hers are in hieroglyphics. If she didn’t open the occasional gate that impedes progress, I’d suggest that the boy should consider an “every man for himself” approach and shed the dead weight. The boy can lie down horizontally on the save station couches if the game is that peculiar about the amount of space that needs to be filled.

The hypothetical scenario of leaving the girl behind would also relieve the boy of the burden of having to protect her from the barrage of spirits that are trying to reclaim her. These shadowy ghouls that resemble the balls of ash from Spirited Away forming together to somewhat emulate a physical substratum will emerge from portals in the ground to snatch up the girl and carry her back to the abyss where she’ll be hopelessly sunken into oblivion. If this happens, a shockwave will encompass the entire area and eternally render the boy as a stone statue. To prevent this harrowing curse from occurring, the boy will bat them off with his trusty wooden pole, upgraded to a full-fledged sword after a certain point that naturally deals more damage. While the scourge will withdraw after a few meager hits, their pension for acting as a mob will sometimes overwhelm the player. Knocking the boy on his ass after a swift uppercut usually gives them ample opportunity to yoink the girl off her feet, so always watchful. Their ambushes will be a chronic occurrence throughout the game, but a vigilant one will seize the girl whenever the boy leaves her alone for too long. One might think this could only happen to the careless sort, but the game places puzzle sections where the boy is forced to be absent from the girl for a lengthy stretch of time. A particular section involving a slow shimmying session over a ramp with streaming water and cutting the hinges off of bridges will always result in a nail-biting race to save the girl from plunging into darkness even if the boy is as quick as a golden eagle. Despite the fact I previously implied that anything involving the sooty spirits is a cumbersome dirge, I quite like the looming threat overhead as a consequence of dilly-dallying during one of these sections. The alarming tension is an unexpected way to spruce up a game with such a serene tone.

So, what does it all mean at the end? Certainly, I can’t gloss over my interpretation of Ueda’s intent when Ico’s narrative is so open-ended. A piece of exposition I’ve been hiding thus far is that the boy was ostracized from his society because he was born with horns, which is considered a bad omen by societal superstition. The girl’s name is actually Yorda, a name that you give to your daughter if you hate her. Or, in Yorda’s case, if your mom sees you as a disposable source of youth whose sacrifice will stagnate the aging process. Her mother is the main antagonist of the game, scoffing at the boy’s efforts to rip away her toxic connection to her as she sees them as utterly futile. As imposing as she seems to be as the dominant regal power of the fortress, the black spirits are surprisingly not acting on her command. Right before the climactic final fight against Yorda’s mother, the boy returns to the chamber where it all started and fights a crowd of spirits who now cower under the might of his new energy sword. Once I realized that the spirits were retreating to the pods once they were defeated, I finally uncovered Ico’s narrative depth. The black spirits are the damned souls of previous horned boys who have succumbed to their untimely fates. Maybe not all of them died from suffocation and or starvation being trapped in their pods. Perhaps the reason why they stubbornly try to retrieve Yorda is because all of these horned boys have attempted to save her when they were still flesh and blood, and they’ve all failed miserably somewhere along the line. These horned boys are labeled as genetic pariahs as soon as they’re born, destined to bring nothing but pain and suffering for all of the common non-horned folk. Saving Yorda not only proves their usefulness but proves that they are capable of performing acts of kindness as well. Meanwhile, Yorda is ultimately doomed to never escape the fortress because her rescuers seemed fated to fail. This current boy in the long line of sorry saviors most likely exceeds every other one before him, slaying Yorda’s mom by impaling her with the energy sword. Before he can celebrate his unprecedented victory, he is blown back by a sweeping power force, severing his horns from his head as a bloody signifier of his death. A resurrected Yorda treats her knight in shining rags and sandals to a respectable Viking funeral as a sign of her gratitude. After the credits roll, the boy wakes up from what was merely a slumber on the beach shore and sees a happy Yorda smiling at him. Seems like a happy ending that breaks the vicious cycle, right? Well, we don’t know for sure if what we are witnessing is reality. It could be the pleasant final dream of this boy before his consciousness passes on into the eternal ether. After all, the main theme of Ico’s narrative seems to be that the oppressed can never overcome the crushing higher powers that undermine and subjugate them no matter how hard they try. It may be bleak, but interpreting Ico’s ending this way feels more substantive.

Ico is a game that I respect more than anything, which is a statement I usually reserve for the industry pioneers of the pixelated eras that predate Ico by at least two generations prior. I guess that when I take off my rose-tinted glasses for the gaming generation I grew up with, I realize that there was still plenty of radical innovation for gaming that needed some time to mold, and Ico is the epitome of this. Yorda’s partner AI is mostly the aspect of Ico that desperately needed reworking, as the girl’s inattentiveness in most scenarios drove me up a wall. Also, the boy’s controls could be smoother as well. There’s nothing deep about wonky movement and finicky response triggers. In saying this, there is no way that Ico could ever aspire to be a perfect game. What I respect about Ico is all of its efforts in its experimentation, to dial back the elements of gaming for the sake of achieving something never before executed in the medium. For all of its objective faults, Ico was still more interesting and resonating than whatever flavor-of-the-week game that had better controls and a peppier tone at the time. Truly effective art has a habit of making a colossal splash regardless of how abstruse it is and considering all of the games released after Ico that derive inspiration from it, it is a testament to that phenomenon.
Body
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Erockthestrange 2020-02-21T00:49:49Z
2020-02-21T00:49:49Z
7.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Burn the North American cover for this game with the fire of a thousand suns because it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. It makes the North American Mega Man covers on the NES look like bonafide Steve Ditko illustrations. No wonder Ico didn't sell well over here.
Supplement
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Show more
Show less
Attribution
Requested publishing level
Draft
Commentary
Review
review
en
Expand review Hide
Title
Ico: What we left behind, and the ruins of it all.
[Preface, Contextualization.]
__

2001: one year had passed since Sony ushered in the new millennium for gaming with the Playstation 2, a black monolith whose spartan boot-up menu showed phantasmal lights fluttering past shadowed crystalline towers, an ominous yet inviting aesthetic that captivated those who felt the fear of Y2K's realization scratching at the back of their psyches.

Competition from outside Sony was as fierce as it would ever be, with Nintendo revitalizing itself with the Gamecube and Gameboy Advance, immediately cementing the former's staying power in the cultural sphere with titles like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Pikmin. Microsoft would throw its hat into the ring that same year, unveiling the Xbox as well as its flagship title, Halo: Combat Evolved.

While Sega's final valiant battle in the console market was seeing its twilight with end of the Dreamcast's brief lifespan, it would go out with a blaze of glory as titles like Sonic Adventure 2, Shenmue II and Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 would cement its legacy as one of the most ambitious consoles ever released.

Amidst this maelstrom of next-gen gaming from all corners, and while Sony's best selling franchises were reaching new heights with titles like Final Fantasy X, Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Grand Theft Auto III, the Playstation 2 saw the release of a game far more quiet and poetic than the environment it was born into.

Developed by Sony's aptly named Team Ico and Japan Studio, Ico is, in the briefest of terms, an platformer with elements of action-adventure, though using broad, sweeping labels to define Ico has a tendency to feel somewhat deceptive, in my opinion.

The question then becomes evident: How do you review Ico? How do *I* talk about, let alone review this game?

The only way ahead is forward. Let's try to rephrase the question and see where we go from there.
__

[What is playing Ico like?]

Ico's gameplay revolves around controlling the eponymous Ico, a young boy with horns, as he attempts to escape an ancient castle after being locked in its dungeon, traveling alongside a glowing girl named Yorda, whom he finds locked in a massive birdcage towards the game's beginning.

The mechanical dichotomy between these two characters forms the crux of the gameplay loop: Ico is capable of running, jumping, climbing, able to swing a sword or light a torch, but will often run into strange glowing barricades, wards created by the evil Queen who rules the castle. Yorda, being the Queen's supposed daughter, has magical powers of her own, able to destroy these barricades and unlock more parts of the castle, bringing both characters closer to the freedom they desire.

Yorda, however, is incapable of leaping great distances or scaling walls like Ico, nor is she able to defend herself from the monsters, living shadows which the Queen sends to apprehend Yorda.

Thus, the goal Ico tasks the player with is to find ways for both Ico and the AI controlled Yorda to progress, solving puzzles to create paths through areas otherwise untraversable to the princess.

One of the best ways Ico handles this is the mechanics behind your connection with and proximity to Yorda. While most buttons perform the basic verbs one might associate with the adventurous platformer genre (Jump, Attack, Run, Interact, etc.), R1 serves as a kind of multipurpose "Yorda button", various contextual uses.

While tapping R1 will have Ico call out to Yorda (an action that I admit occasionally sees some laughter from myself purely from its resemblance to the comedy gold of Heavy Rain's "Press X to Shaun" glitch), signaling her to walk up to Ico if she strays away or initiating a sequence where Ico will help her climb up or across a surface from the other side , holding the Yorda button as close range will have Ico hold Yorda's hand, the animation of two scrambling through the castle together capturing the adequate amount of child-like wonder and trepidation as the dynamic duo inch closer towards escape.

With the game's minimal presentation and design, Yorda also takes the form of Ico's life meter in an abstract fashion, via the way she interacts with the combat encounters.

Combat in Ico is typically initiated either at scripted intervals, or after leaving Yorda unattended for an extended period of time, especially in another room or area, a measure of the game to prevent the player from intentionally or unintentionally leaving Yorda behind.

Once the shadow monsters apprehend Yorda, they'll trap her in some kind of dark vortex, at which point you'll have a small window of time to pry Yorda free before she is lost to the darkness and you are given a Game Over screen.

The other main way to die in Ico is from the occasional precarious leap gone wrong, though that scenario is far less common, thus Yorda's safety becomes the game's way of measuring Ico's, removing the necessity for any sort of meter or counter which might clash with the game's otherwise data-less interface.

Ico's minimal interface itself manages to be another one of its strengths, avoiding flashing objective markers or immersion disrupting prompts in awkwardly placed text boxes without tiptoeing too far into the bland hyper-realism that has made itself the default among AAA games of the past decade.

On the contrary, Ico's lack of both realism or typical HUD elements comes from a confidence in level design, allowing the various corridors of the Castle to guide the player naturally, embracing game-like geometry and its inherent understandability.

With a game that sports few mechanics and an elegantly simple runtime, with an average playthrough of Ico clocking in around 6 and a half hours from title screen to end credits, there is little more to be said solely about the gameplay loop. I strongly doubt anyone who hasn't played Ico is blown away by the description of an artsy minimalist platformer (due in part to Ico's noticeable effect on the rest of the gaming world, a topic we'll circle back to later in this review).

Rather, I think where Ico ascends to something truly special is the marriage between what it does with its game mechanics and what it has to say, and particularly how it says those things.

[What is Ico saying?]

Despite being a game where narrative takes center stage, with every aspect of its level design, gameplay mechanics, and audiovisual aesthetic in service of that narrative, Team Ico opted to eschew much of what the average gamer might consider to be the backbones of a story-based game.

Cutscenes are few and far between, save to establish a setting or character, and dialogue is scarcely uttered within the game. While it's worth acknowledging some of these choices to be limitations of the scope and budget of Team Ico's project, I believe all of this bolsters the atmosphere and immense feeling of playing Ico.

Long before games adopted the semiotics of film and prestige television to appear, almost to the point of parody, as if they are pleading to be accepted as legitimate art, Ico had no qualms simply, well, making art.

What little lines are delivered in the game give the player only the sparsest characterization needed to interface with the game: Ico is a brave little boy, The Queen is mysterious and evil, and the armor-clad warriors who imprison Ico in the beginning believe him to be cursed, that his horns are an ill portent for whatever village he was spirited away from.

The figure most central to Ico's plot, Yorda, speaks entirely in a fantasy language captioned with inscrutable glyphs, one of several motifs of Team Ico's spearheading director and designer, Fumito Ueda. This decision is a meaningful one on several layers, as the inability for Ico and Yorda to communicate through conventional means allows the game to let their body language and actions around each other dictate their relationship.

Yorda's graceful and cautious movements speak of someone who has never known freedom, nor a life beyond these eroded walls, and with the way she is treated by her mother, it is no wonder she finds herself afraid of most dangerous situations.

Ico, on the other side of the coin, displays equal parts courage and kindness, bravely making leaps before patiently helping Yorda find her way across, literally and figuratively creating bridges between the two. With the same hand that Ico uses to grab Yorda in an excited fashion, the boy gently pats the benches which serve as the game's Save Point, encouraging Yorda to join him in respite, if only briefly.

The narrative of Ico does not choose to supplement its storytelling with in-game text or dialogue. The player will not find the dubious notes of Silent Hill, nor is the castle littered with Bioshock-esque voice memos that add context to the world.

Instead, Ico opts to tell its story solely through sensory experiences, what the player sees, hears, and feels as they traverse the castle.

Though we are told little throughout the game about the nature of the boy's curse, the castle, the Queen or the magical elements of the world, the gravity of Ico's situation is apparent from the first room.

Ico's journey begins when he is placed in a stone coffin, one of dozens, his escape seemingly random chance. You are not the first child to be sentenced to die here, and the rest of the castle is nothing if not a larger, more unfathomable tomb for you to attempt to pry yourself free of, one of construction we would consider almost impossible in any era, given the isolated and steep nature of the island the entire structure rests upon, or rather looms over.

Even within the fantasy realm that Ico unfolds in, the castle feels detached from time and space itself. As often as you find yourself wondering what part of the fortress you're in, if and when you will loop back to a previous section, or how to solve a puzzle, you may find yourself questioning the temporality of it all.

Did the shapeless monsters, now solely focused on locking Yorda back in a cage, once lay the foundation for this place?

Was this place's role always to be a prison, or did humans once walk these halls?

Is the evil Queen this castle's original sovereign, or is her presence here that of a parasite?

How long has this place been here?

How long have we been in this place?

Ico will not hand you the answers to any of these questions, rather allowing these questions to simmer and boil within the subconscious as one explores Ico's castle.

Exploration itself seems to betray the idea that this space could be lived in, that its existence is not intrinsically and metaphysically hostile towards all who wander its crumbling halls. The later platforming puzzles you encounter feeling as if the Castle itself is responding to the journey Ico and Yorda undertake, shifting its stonework to further confine them as punishment for attempting to flee in the first place.

This place is not a home. Not a house. Not for anyone, or anything.

The side of me who stews on the literature of our present and past likens the setting of Ico to being less of a castle or prison, and far closer to a Labyrinth. Ico himself takes on the abstract visage of the Minotaur, his massive horns painting him as a monstrous individual. Team Ico and Ueda, then, take on the role of Daedalus, tasked with crafting a maze-like realm to trap you, the Cretan beast of this narrative, within.

Aside from the evolution of Ico's puzzles, Ico's most traditionally game-like progression is in the form of combat. While fighting enemies itself does not evolve past an increased volume of shadow creatures in encounters, Ico changes weapons several times throughout the game.

Starting unarmed and with little method of defense, Ico first finds a stick, which doubles as a torch, which he trades for a sword, which can cut ropes as well as be generally more effective of a weapon than the stick.

This change in weapons illustrates Ico's evolution as a character through visual language, as well. With every step Ico makes through the castle, every time you as the player successfully stave off the monsters, you grow more confident and capable in your abilities. In that same vein, Ico transitions from just another unfortunate sacrifice to the Queen and into the kind of hero that serves as the fantasy genre's backbone, trading in the stick, the item associated with a kid playing pretend, to a sword, the weapon wielded by the knights who once overpowered him.

Ico's many forms of progression come to a head in the game's climactic finale. After much trial and tribulation, Ico and Yorda overcome their biggest obstacle, a massive blockade created by the Queen which closes off passage to the large stone bridge which connects the labyrinth to the dense forest of the lands beyond, seemingly the only entrance or exit.

As escape grows closer, so too does the danger, as the Queen causes the bridge itself to crumble, separating the duo and seeing Ico plummet to the depths below.

The player makes one final traversal as Ico through the Castle's lowest pits, hopping along birdcages along the cliff face and maneuvering through dungeon-like waterways in an attempt to regroup with Yorda.

The evolution of Ico's weaponry culminates as he finds the Queen's Sword, an enchanted blade that grants him the ability to unseal magical barriers like Yorda. From here, the game's falling action consists of a desperate fight to the throne room, finding a petrified Yorda before finally confronting the Queen.

Avoiding her petrification spell yourself, the player slays the Queen with her own blade, vanquishing her control over the castle, and whatever magic keeps it together, as Ico loses consciousness and has his horns snapped and splintered.

Yorda, free of her mother's control, appears as a shadow, bringing Ico to a boat that sends him across the waters and towards freedom, with one final scene after the credits showing Ico wash ashore, only to find a restored and revitalized Yorda, the once incarcerated and cursed children free to bask in the light of a new day.

__

[Why do we still talk about Ico?]

Ico's legacy is as preserved as it is lost to time. While the game's commercial performance was modest, its critical reception, especially amongst current and future game developers at the time, was massive.

From Software's Hidetaka Miyazaki, arguably the most influential game designer of the past decade for the influence his brainchild Dark Souls and its ilk have had on games of the modern day, cited his experience playing Ico in college as an awakening to the strength of gaming as a medium.

Team Ico would be one of the first to use a bloom effect for their game's lighting, With the particular aesthetic of sun-dappled forests drenched in bloom heavily inspiring Eiji Aonuma as he directed Nintendo's dark fantasy for the Gamecube, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Over a decade later, Team Ico's use of silence, ambient sound, and music would surely leave its mark on the critically acclaimed Breath of the Wild, taking notes from Ico to limit musical tracks and allowing the natural soundscape to captivate players.

From Grasshopper's Goichi Suda being inspired by Ico's save points to have No More Heroes' save system involve trips to the toilet, to the relation between the player-controlled Ico and the AI controlled Yorda being the blueprint for Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, it is not a stretch to say that every single aspect of Ico was carefully dissected, analyzed and ingested by almost everyone with a passion for game design since 2001.

And yet, for all that Ico has done for the world, I cannot help but feel a certain sadness when I look at it in conjunction with my humble game collection, see its icon on my PS2's memory card, or even upon discussion of its much more commercially successful and equally critically acclaimed sequel (of sorts), 2005's Shadow of the Colossus.

I have played many games that have taken notes from Ico, some that I perceive to be tasteful understandings of its designs and others that I view as shallow and cringeworthy imitations, yet I have never played a game that truly felt like Ico, said what it was that Ico was trying to say when you explored its levels.

The game industry found Ico's carcass amidst its ruins, picked its bones clean of flesh, sucked its bones clean of marrow, and savored every last drop, all without learning the lessons of its heart and soul.

There is a reason that it was in the ruins, after all.

This is not to say that I think the dozens, if not hundreds of game developers, professional and indie, aspiring and auteur, are to blame for this feeling of mine. I imagine if I were to ask someone like Hideo Kojima, Goichi Suda or Jenova Chen what they liked about Ico, we would come to very similar conclusions about the splendor of its structures, the triumphs of its adventure and the extremely difficult to articulate emotional core of it all.

I think capitalism as a whole failed Ico, setting the game up for failure long before it was absorbed by the industry it was created in.

With a fixed release window for a September 2001 release in North America, Ico's localization was extremely rushed, releasing months ahead of the Japanese version, creating a drastically warped and unfinished version of Team Ico's labor of love.

It is here, in the eleventh hour of my review, that I admit the version I most recently played, and that I have spent the bulk of the game reviewing, is the Japanese release of the game, purchased during my time living in Tokyo specifically so I could have the finished, fully realized version of Fumito Ueda's magnum opus.

While the baffling change to replace the gorgeous Giorgo de Chirico inspired painted cover art with a generic and hideous mishmash of CG renders of Ico, Yorda, and the Castle (none of which even approximate a resemblance to their in-game counterparts) for the North American box art is well documented to those with a passing familiarity with Ico, its problems run far, far deeper.

In addition to much of the game's bonus content (an indulgence of many a game released for the PS2 and one I sorely miss in the sterilized era of pre-order bonuses and DLC gatekeeping) such as secret weapons and extras for those on subsequent playthroughs of the game, such as an extended ending where the two characters eat a watermelon, Yorda and the Queen's speech being translated from their runic script, and even the ability to play with a friend, having Player 2 controlling Yorda, Ico would see noticeable changes to several puzzles, some minute and some drastic, largely as a result of the game simply being shipped overseas in an unfinished state, based on the average timeline of development for games of this era.

On the note of the game being unfinished, American players would also find much of the game's textures, geometry, even its ability to render distant parts of the castle, severely lacking compared to the version of Ico released in Japan and the PAL region.

Where the North American release of Ico truly fails, and what makes my heart sink, however, is how it affects Yorda's role in the game, rendering her a shell of the character she's supposed to be.

Simply put, Yorda's AI is unfinished in this version, removing much of her utility to the player. While in the Japanese/PAL release, Yorda has the ability to point out objects and areas of interest to the player, and is often programmed to head towards your goal, she is relegated to standing around and twiddling her thumbs in the North American release, barely even attempting to run or hide when monsters. Additionally, the Yorda featured in the later versions of Ico has a unique voice line and animation where she shakes her head and yells if you try to call to her, indicating that you still need to create a path or find a way to help her, another feature sorely missing to American players.

These changes understandably led to Yorda being described as dead weight and a nuisance by much of those reviewing and playing the game at the time, turning what should have been, what *is* Ico's greatest strength, the charming relationship between two characters, into an escort mission through a puzzle-platformer missing some of its puzzles and platforms.

This, to me, is when capitalism failed Ico, not because it was too indie or artsy for the western audience to enjoy it, not because of an atrocious cover, but because a corporation had more interest in a marketing deadline than a finished work.

__

[Final thoughts on Ico and its legacy.]

I am not so ignorant as to assume that if Ico had been released in North America in its finished form it would have skyrocketed to commercial acclaim and sold anywhere near as many units as a game like Final Fantasy X or Halo: Combat Evolved.

My main lament is only that people in a massive part of the world were deprived of the ability to experience this wonderful piece of art in its intended form.

Even now, as with many games released before the days of large multiplatform support and backwards compatibility, Ico is very much locked to the console it was created for, though it is fortunate enough to be on the best-selling console ever made.

Ico and its sister, Shadow of the Colossus, were remastered and packaged together as one collection for the PS3 in 2011, with North America finally receiving a version of Ico comparable to the Japan/PAL release, but by that time it was too little too late.

Team Ico's castle lies ancient and crumbling, the etchings of its magnificence worn away by time in the blasted sands of what we have forgotten. Even in our obliviousness, something of Ico remains in games today, its fallen foundation serving as the bedrock for the ever expanding empires that have been built on top of it.

It is our role, then, to find beauty in the ruins of it all.
Body
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Supplement
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Show more
Show less
Attribution
Requested publishing level
Draft
Commentary
Review
review
en
Expand review Hide
Title
An Overlooked, one of a kind, magnum opus.
Everytime i have to describe ICO as my favorite game of all time i'm left speechless. I can't point the things that make the game special without spoiling what makes the game special, so if i came to you and told you that the game is simply a puzzle walking-artistic-sim about a boy in a castle who's objective is to save the girl, i wouldn't blame you if you thought it was nothing too special, since this is a plot that has been told countless times in gaming. So i always resort to show the box art, it captures all that the game is without a word. The setting might be the castle, yes, but it more feels like you are walking on a lonely unhabited desert with massive mysterious structures scattered around, that leave your mind with hundreds of questions, and very few answers. The front and center of the box art show two figures holding hands, running from this desert, attempting to escape, but soon reaching to a cliff that leads to the sea and freedom is only a glimpse staring at you in the horizon. You are small in the world of ICO, the shadows the structures cast upon the desert floor are as huge as the structures. Even with the hot sand, Yorda and Ico choose to walk in it instead of the shadows looking for any semblance of hope.
In many ways, describing this game is like describing any piece of art. Stating it's genre/movement does little to detail what makes certain art pieces so relevant. The game needs to be analyzed, experienced, tasted by your soul, digested and thought about in your thoughts... Much like all art. Nowadays it remains it's status along some art pieces of being simply: "influential", mainly as a main source of inspiration for "Dark Souls". While I do agree that it is one influential piece of media, I stand for it being much more than that. It's a statement, one that we'll take long to see happen again. It's bold, it's dark and it's beautiful at the same time it is lovely, claustrophobic and freeing. Reminds you how much games are a powerful tool to tell stories and to experience them in many ways.
I could be talking about art and it's relation to games and other media for a long time. For a while let's put that aside, to talk about the game's peculiarities (as it's the main porpoise of a review).

You can't summarize all of the efforts that went into Ico just to Fumeto Ueda. Of course he is the head of the project, but everyone on the team made an amazing job, animating, composing, building this world. Clearly this group effort elevates his vision and design philosophy, and the sum is my favorite designed game overall.
The atmosphere is creepingly silent, huge rooms, yards, towers, without a single person, just the sound of your feet pressing into the stone. You are lonely, even tho you're always with Yorda, you two never speak outside of cutscenes and you can't even understand each other. Your imagination runs wild as you run through these empty spaces, trying to piece out what was the purpose of these spaces in a somewhat logical way. The only times the silence is broken is when you either encounter enemies or save the game, and they are massively distinct. Saving the game, being triggered by the player sitting on a couch (with magical visual inclinations) to rest (which works as the save point of the game), and this action is the most peaceful and calm this game ever gets, and it's a accompanied by a music that could very well fit in a horror scenario, but otherwise feels calm in this experience. There's no feeling quite like loading the game up and seeing the two characters resting on the sofa, its a perfect way to make a save point: make it meaningful and peaceful in contrast to fighting and the dangers in the game. Encountering enemies on the other hand is hectic, scary and chaotic, complementing the nature of these encounters. Shadow creatures come out of holes on the ground and come to take your only company in your journey (her being taken results in a really abrupt and disturbing game over).
One of my favorite, most peculiar and personal aspects of ICO is it's absent tutorial and start of the game. Much like it's setting and story, the game starts with no buttons on screen, it's up to you to explore it's inputs and limitations, it complements the atmosphere so well it's almost unnoticable and it's such a good idea that it's almost surreal someone had this all in mind while making the experience.
The cherry on top of the atmosphere and gameplay is Yorda. What should i say about yorda that hasnt been said a billion times before (and in this review already)? It's the biggest bond i've ever had with a character, and let alone cared for, and you can't literally understand what she is saying, she communicates by mumbling at times and by gestures. There are so many ways they make this work, you need her to progress in the castle, you need her to escape the castle, if yorda gets captured it's game over, you have to guide her by holding hands, and later on you want to leave the castle with her and free her of something you can't even fully comprehend. It's one of the most beatiful bonds in a game ever, and beyond even games, arts in general.
The animations, convey the sense of how natural and human Ico and Yorda are, specially in contrast to the enemies in the game, which are unnatural, spiky, evil, uncanny, shapeless. It's something you usually don't think about as much but the animations alone convey to you that you're fighting evil, one can say that their visual design alone can indicate they are evil, but there are moments in the game that contradict this statement.
The ending, if you know, you know, i don't want to spoil it in case there's a lost soul reading a review from a 20+ year old game they never played, but it's a beatiful sequence and i consider the ending one of the most surprising and effective endings in a game.

As a final note i want to leave in this is that i do overlook it's flaws. There's so much i like in it that i just can't give it something other than a perfect rating. There will never be anything quite like this experience ever again, for me. And this changes for person to person, as ICO is a very weird game and for some, boring. I played ICO only once and it was enough for me to love the experience. I first wrote this review in 2021 right after i played the game, and as i'm editing it in 2023 all of my feelings towards the game are the same. I've played shadow of the collossus after Ico and didn't quite enjoy it, it wasn't for me. I'll go back to ICO probably soon and i'll go through shadow of the collossus and i hope to play the Last Guardian one day. This game changed my life, changed how i view games, how i experience art, it's part of who i'm as an artist. It's a part of my life.

As it says on my profile: "god i love ICO" and i will until i pass.
Body
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Supplement
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Attribution
Requested publishing level
Draft
Commentary
Review
review
en
Expand review Hide
Title
Ico's lonesome protagonists rest their heads on each other's shoulders when you sit down on a bench to save. A cute little loop plays endlessly in the background. When you return to the game, you hear nothing but occasional birdsong. A patch of sunlit grass or a still pool of water wait in the depths of an abandoned castle by the sea. Ico's command of atmosphere is definitely impressive, and was a massive influence on the use of bloom in seventh-generation games and beyond. It combines the sweeping wistfulness of Romantic painting with the still calm of "cinematic platformers" like Another World. Ultimately, though, much like Gears of War is a game about the joys of shooting aliens in the face, Ico is a game about the pleasures of solving puzzles, skipping between stones, climbing, running, stick-fighting, and holding someone's hand. There are no movie-game aspirations or "playable cutscenes" here. The operating principle is the same, it just has a defter touch than most.
Body
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
screechdreams 2021-10-10T08:31:38Z
2021-10-10T08:31:38Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Supplement
tips
Formatting
[b]text[/b] - bold
[i]text[/i] - italic
[s]strikethrough[/s] - strikethrough
[tt]text[/tt] - fixed-width type
[color red]text[/color] - colored text (full list)
[spoiler]text[/spoiler] - Text hidden with spoiler cover
[https://www.example.com/page/,Link to another site] - Link to another site

Linking
When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
Supported: YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Dailymotion
Embed
Attribution
Requested publishing level
Draft
Commentary
Review
draft
en
Expand review Hide

Catalog

koshechka ICO 2024-05-28T10:11:25Z
2024-05-28T10:11:25Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hopperVincent ICO 2024-05-26T03:47:29Z
2024-05-26T03:47:29Z
5.0
4
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sadgirl2023 ICO 2024-05-24T20:38:28Z
2024-05-24T20:38:28Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kunamon100 ICO 2024-05-24T07:37:43Z
2024-05-24T07:37:43Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
jaymanxyz2 ICO 2024-05-21T01:39:50Z
PS3
2024-05-21T01:39:50Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
asdp ICO 2024-05-19T15:30:56Z
2024-05-19T15:30:56Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
to play.
pink_9320 ICO 2024-05-18T14:08:00Z
2024-05-18T14:08:00Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
oltnabrick1 ICO 2024-05-16T03:43:13Z
2024-05-16T03:43:13Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
roman_cancel ICO 2024-05-15T01:03:48Z
2024-05-15T01:03:48Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
85226534 ICO 2024-05-13T02:37:27Z
2024-05-13T02:37:27Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
scoterinaia ICO 2024-05-11T06:12:05Z
2024-05-11T06:12:05Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
nathangraves ICO 2024-05-10T16:00:03Z
2024-05-10T16:00:03Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: T
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x DVD

Comments

Rules for comments
  • Be respectful! All the community rules apply here.
  • Keep your comments focused on the game. Don't post randomness/off-topic comments. Jokes are fine, but don't post tactless/inappropriate ones.
  • Don't get in arguments with people here, or start long discussions. Use the boards for extended discussion.
  • Don't use this space to complain about the average rating, chart position, genre voting, others' reviews or ratings, or errors on the page.
  • Don't comment just to troll/provoke. Likewise, don't respond to trollish comments; just report them and ignore them.
  • Any spoilers should be placed in spoiler tags as such: [spoiler](spoiler goes here)[/spoiler]
Note: Unlike reviews, comments are considered temporary and may be deleted/purged without notice.
  • Previous comments (29) Loading...
  • Diugo 2023-09-27 20:29:29.633326+00
    Art
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Kittyhat 2023-11-30 23:17:22.439627+00
    some of the best architecture in gaming
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • simonkenis 2024-01-12 09:24:44.289005+00
    I liked the part where I had to wait for the girl.
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • ricopomelo 2024-01-12 22:06:34.150369+00
    this game makes me feel like no other thing in the world
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Magic8Ball 2024-02-04 20:53:21.629136+00
    i wouldnt mind the combat so much if you weren't fighting hoards of enemies at a time. beautiful game otherwise
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Molten_ 2024-02-18 06:26:21.427853+00
    in some ways, I feel like the games are still trying to catch up to ico. incredibly ahead of its time.
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Romanshower 2024-02-23 13:11:52.303702+00
    Let's all upvote the American cover
    reply
    • watercolour 2024-04-30 09:47:17.270652+00
      lol
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • babyclav 2024-03-16 23:02:42.18643+00
    Better than SoTC tbh. If because of how much restraint it shows in comparison, there's very little exposition here.
    reply
    • ThrashingFairy 2024-03-23 07:23:43.736878+00
      Austerity is lame. Ambition is awesome. And that's why SotC is better.
    • babyclav 2024-03-26 17:38:45.062541+00
      It's not so much about ambition but show dont tell. Wander being potentially in the wrong was already communicated well through gameplay but now you need Dormin to tell you you're a bad guy just to make sure you really get it this time robbing the game of any moral ambiguity
    • babyclav 2024-03-28 03:44:36.048019+00
      *Emon
    • ThrashingFairy 2024-04-02 14:05:50.732028+00
      Well that's true, ICO does do that a lot better.
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • More comments New comments (0) Loading...
Please login or sign up to comment.

Suggestions

ADVERTISEMENT
Examples
1980s-1996
23 mar 2015
8 apr - 12 may 2015
1998-05
Report
Download
Image 1 of 2