So I finally beat ICO, and got the platinum. I have to say this game, despite being centered on one of the most hated gameplay mechanics (the escort), is an amazing game. It was truly, an emotional journey that even overwhelmed me at the end. Now, I'm not sure if any other game has made me shed a tear before so I figured I'd stir up a discussion.
First I'll talk Ico. Again, escort missions are bottom shelf in gaming. Make them too long and people will hate the game. Team Ico decided to base the entire game around it. At first glance it seems like a disaster, and even playing the game you start to become annoyed and hate dragging around Yorda. And I mean dragging. You practically pull her off the whole game. That's what baffled me; I should be glad it’s over, stack the game on my shelf and be done with it. But no, my heart wrenched at the end as the meaning of the entire game unraveled itself in my mind.
Everytime Yorda was attacked I had an emotional reaction: anger, panic, completely full on defensive mode to protect her. So completely unaware, the moment we two were headed to our escape, we were cast away from each other. I watched a desperate attempt by both to stay together and witnessed an unstoppable separation. That defensive like emotion accelerated and the climb up the castle’s waterworks had immense purpose.
I fought my way up and found Yorda petrified to stone, surrounded. I dispatched the flying horned creates without much thought, rushing to eliminate them to attempt her rescue. Upon completion I found her lifeless so I continued forward to end it. The battle with the queen did end with my blade, but her words are what seemed to pierce my heart instead. She revealed her plans for Yorda, to become her, to possess her, use her as a vessel. The knowledge manifested the reality of this world.
The story connected and suddenly I knew, this drama has been playing out for ages. Ico was far from the first and Yorda one of many. This evil queen has been imprisoning young women to lengthen her own life and the nearby village sacrificed them to the queen along with horned boys, left there to die in a coffin. The spirits were the shadows of past boys made to die and entrap the women until she met her end. With my blade lodged in her chest the queen said Yorda can never leave the castle, even though I killed her and threw Ico to the ground. The implications engulfed me as I watched the ending unfold as Ico laid there bleeding, unconscious, with the castle collapsing around him. Even after all that, keeping Yorda alive, stopping the queen, Ico laid there about to die.
Then the remaining strength of all the spirits gathered around Yorda as if to protect her, for maybe they were not enemies at all, only shadows of the past endlessly protecting her from danger, from Ico. Yorda awoke and with the remaining time carried Ico to a boat and cast him away. In the last moment, she save the boy who put an end to the vicious cycle and she remained awaiting the end she could never escape. The credits role and that damn song played and I teared up!
After the credits, they added Ico landing on the shore and finding Yorda alive across the beach. To me it felt unnecessary to throw in a happy ending. The culmination was already reached and I was climatically impacted. Regardless of the addition, I was entirely taken aback by the game and ...
I would like to know if there has been any gaming moments in your life that inspired such an emotional reaction.