The shock might have been quickly supplanted by certain other more shocking shocks, but Sony opened its E3 press conference with the reemergence of a beloved project many assumed dead: The Last Guardian. Directed by Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow Of The Colossus), Guardian’s story about a boy and his giant half-bird half-cat friend was first shown at E3 2009, then again at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show, and then one last time to press in 2011. After that, it disappeared and went from constant hot-button issue to constant butt of (secretly optimistic) jokes. Now, it’s been moved from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4, and Sony is hoping it finally ships in 2016.
One of the questions plaguing Guardian’s development has been the fluctuating involvement of Ueda and his status as a Sony employee. He left the company in December of 2011 but was reportedly signed to see the game through as an outside contractor. That still seems to be the case, as the full video Sony showed at its conference credits Ueda as the game’s director. There’s also a credit reading “Creative by gen DESIGN,” which, as it turns out, is the game studio founded by Ueda and other key developers from his two revered PlayStation 2 games. The company’s website has a smattering of Last Guardian concept art and lists its development duties, which are essentially to lead any and all work on the creative side of development.
Sony’s seven-minute demonstration of the current Guardian isn’t too dissimilar from what it showed back in 2009. It’s sharper looking, as expected with the move to PlayStation 4, but it’s all still there, from the way the game’s ruins crumble under the creature’s weight to the ivy running up the walls. This is also the most prolonged look at Guardian’s puzzle solving that we’ve ever seen. The idea has always been that, as the boy, you’re trying to navigate through a crumbling tower with the aid of Trico, the beast, but Trico’s animal whims and tendencies often stand in the way and need to be manipulated. Here, we see the duo come across an object with a big creepy stained-glass eye on it that stops Trico in his tracks, so the boy has to jump down and push it out of sight to get Trico to continue. A similar idea can be spotted in the 2010 trailer, where the boy shatters one of these glass eyes with a pot.
What else does Ueda have in store for Trico and his little friend? Well, Sony says The Last Guardian is finally coming out in 2016, so it has at least one more E3 and two Tokyo Game Shows to appear at—or not.