Welcome to a strange land and one strange cat.
Well, sort of a cat.
genDESIGN and SIE Japan Studio's much anticipated follow-up to 2005's uniquely atmospheric Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian hit the stands last week (it was first revealed in 2009) after a series of delays that kept fans waiting.
In the game -- which takes place in an epic, seemingly endless and ruined world -- the player takes control of The Boy, who wakes up to find himself in a strange world and covered in mystical tattoos after being mysteriously abducted at the game's opening.
And The Boy is not alone. He's in a cave with a giant, wounded, cat-like griffin-looking-thing called Trico, who becomes his constant companion once he's fed and spears sticking out of his back removed.
The game's sometimes odd mechanics (the camera can sometimes gets 'lost' inside Trico) are both frustrating and enthralling -- The Boy looks cartoonish up close, but moves with vivid realism. Trico -- massive and patient -- plays it like a curious, does-what he feels feline.
The relationship between The Boy and Trico is half the game, with trust developing between the two as you traverse the the ragged world you find yourself in.
Working out the mechanics of communication between The Boy and the ever curious and feline-like Trico is half the battle in the game (there's a fair amount of sinister stone soldier crushing too, thanks Trico).
While puzzles and obstacles are the mainstay of the game, the entire experience also has a cinematic feel held together by Takeshi Furukawa's emotional and soaring soundtrack.
If you're familiar with game creator Fumito Ueda's work, The Last Guardian will feel like a homecoming.