Like Raymond, everybody loves ICO — or at least the handful of intrepid souls who gave it a go back in September 2001 sure did. It's that PlayStation 2 action-puzzler you probably didn't, but really should have, a pensive boy-meets-girl fairy tale transpiring among the pitted stony ramparts and oblong outcroppings of a fortress inspired by either Eric Chahi or M.C. Escher (probably both). It had gamers raising that silly question "Games as art?" years before BioShock came along, impelling message board philosophy dilettantes to grapple breathlessly with the mechanics of Free Will 101.
If you're the choir, on the other hand, you'll just be tickled to know that Team ICO — ICO's developer along with that game's spiritual successor, Shadow of the Colossus — is rumored to be showing its latest game at the E3 Expo in a few weeks. But where 2005's Colossus was a sequel in style alone, the new game bears a striking resemblance to the 2001 original.
Have a look at this updated trailer of "Project TRICO," posted (leaked?) yesterday by PlayStation LifeStyle.
The opening visual in the video — a chain threading a hole in the middle of what appears to be an anchoring plate or leash tether — was revealed last January during a Sony recruitment drive. The rest of the video is entirely new, and the boy spied running away from the gryphon and eventually goofing around with it, is a dead ringer for Ico, the boy-hero protagonist of the original.
"But wait," you're saying, scanning the cover of the original. "That kid had horns."
Yes he did. But this one has the same style of tunic, and that same orangish under-garment that cuts off at or near the knees. Then there's the bluish markings, somewhat more elaborate on the Ico shown in the original, but not entirely dissimilar from the ones on the tabard of the boy depicted here. Now think about what happens at the end of ICO and the rest should come to you.
Ico and Yorda in the original ICO.
We all know the PS3 can output amazing visuals, so the ruffling feathers and sinewy movements of the lifelike gryphon as it perches on that shadowy column midway through the video don't quite barrel me over the way the original did eight years ago. What is impressive, on the other hand, is the way this video already demonstrates the developer's appreciation for dramatic impetus.
A boy and his gryphon, and awww, he's feeding it, ain't that cute. They really love each other, sorta like Timmy and Lassie, or Travis and Old Yeller. Now take the gryphon and torture it a little...you know, make it cry or whatever, and wham, that puzzle where you've got to climb the thing and shimmy along the ledge and leap across the chasm to snap the chain holding your mythical buddy down before the timer runs out? A zillion times more nail-biting.
Of course PlayStation Lifestyle's "scoop" could turn out to be another unrelated concept video, like the NICO (Next ICO) trailer was for Shadow of the Colossus back in 2006.
But nah, I'll go with ICO 2. Not because I know something you don't, but because there's plenty of story in Team ICO's opus left to tell, and so that's what I'm crossing my fingers for.
For more gaming news and opinion, park your tweet-readers at twitter.com/game_on.