A few weeks ago, the mailman delivered a package from Sony. Once I opened the wrapping I saw a tower-shaped box with in it a real candle and the game cd for ICO. I don’t know why, but the appearance on how Sony presented the game to me made me know that I was going to be in for a special treat.
Once started up, I got to see an intro movie where a boy with horns on his head was brought to a castle by some grown ups and put inside an egg-shaped hollow rock. I couldn’t understand what the people were saying because they talk an unknown – Japanese like – language, but the english subtitles told me that the grown ups had to put the boy in there for the good of the community. Apparantly they didn’t feel good by what they were doing but had to do it for the greater good.
When everyone except the boy left, something happens. By some sort of good fortune, the rock in which the boy is kept, falls from it’s ground, freeing him.
That’s where the game starts. The boy is you, ICO, and all you need to do is escape from the castle.
However, after a short exploration, you’ll find Princess Yorda, a girl of your age but who speaks a language that you don’t understand. The goal of this game has suddenly changed, and not only you have to escape but you’ll have to make sure Yorda comes along with you.
Of course, there’s some villains lurking to keep you in the castle, and in ICO the enemies are shadow-like creatures who are being controlled by a dark sorceress. You’ll have to make sure both you and Yorda get into safety and escape the castle without being hurt by these creatures and that isn’t really easy, considering neither character understands each other.
While writing this review, I’m still impressed and a bit confused about my feelings from this game.
I could go writing how great and detailed the graphics are, how they push the PS2’s graphical capabilities, how nicely animated the characters are, how warm the beams of light are shining through fog and cracks in the walls. I could tell you how Yorda’s clothes are perfectly modelled and how a breeze of wind can play with them or how the faces of your characters express emotions like no other game has done before, but none of that is important.
So what is important to say about this game ?
From the very start to the finish, everything that you see or hear in ICO has one goal : to make the player feel emotions about the characters.
While over 90% of all platform games have you going on a mission with puzzles varying from easy to hard and give charms or weapons as a reward, ICO gives only one reward throughout the game : emotion.
Everything in ICO, from the voice-acting (which you don’t understand but is extremely well-done) to the overall soundtrack and the graphics for which I can’t even give a good enough description, is created to immerse you into the world of ICO and Yorda.
My conclusion about this game is very short : ICO is not a game but a piece of art.