Ico, A Hidden Gem And Team Ico’s Masterpiece Deserves To Stand Tall Once Again

SotC and The Last Guardian are already on modern platforms. Complete the saga, Sony.

Story Highlights

  • Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian are great, but there was another gem before them, Ico.
  • The pioneer of minimalistic design and a creative masterpiece, Ico’s influence on gaming is undeniable.
  • Japan Studio’s death is reprehensible, and Ico deserves to be on modern platforms like its siblings.

There’s no doubt Sony’s exclusives turn a lot of heads. Just look at Ghost of Tsushima, breaking all the records. Sony’s first-party games have majorly been pretty solid, many influential enough to define a generation of gaming. One such example is Shadow of the Colossus, the magnificent title that revolutionized the use of minimalistic design.

But did you know, it didn’t begin with Shadow of the Colossus? This masterpiece owes its existence to another, arguably even more creative gem: Ico.

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Ico — Where It All Began

Before there was Shadow of the Colossus, there was Ico. Fumito Ueda wanted to create a game that delivered its message as subtly as possible, with minimal design elements, and Japan Studio’s Team Ico made it a reality. A deep plot hidden underneath the veil of a simple narrative, Ico is a masterpiece; one worthy of being called a piece of art.

Ico is the best gaming experience I’ve had in a long time
byu/faux_adult inpatientgamers

Follow Ico, a young boy shunned and subsequently imprisoned by his tribe because of bearing horns, an ill omen. In this prison tower, he meets Yorda, the princess cursed with the tragic fate of being used as her mother’s vessel. He vows to free her, and thus begins a journey of you playing the hero while escorting this princess out of the nightmarish castle while evading her devilish mother’s “shadows.”

Words can't describe the masterpiece that is Ico | Source: IMDB
Words can’t describe the masterpiece that is Ico | Source: IMDB

The plot is simple, and so is the narration. The game employs the overwhelmingly creative style of a minimalistic approach, telling and acting out a story with as little mechanical influence as possible. It manages to tell a heartwarming tale only by the characters’ postures and emotions, with no communication. In addition, the game’s creative puzzle design elements always keep you engrossed.

Charming visuals that are no less than a fabulous work of art, sound design that tells its own story, and complex yet engaging puzzles that let you be the actor of this story, not telling you what to do yet explaining what’s going on in the most subtle way, words can’t describe the overflowing creativity and original thought that went into crafting Ico.

Ico’s Indubitable Influence

Fumito Ueda and Team Ico crafted an undeniable masterpiece, but it goes way beyond the level of one superb game. Countless games we see today wouldn’t probably even exist if not for Ico; the game’s influence on the medium is undeniable

SotC wouldn't have been possible without Ico | Source: IMDB
SotC wouldn’t have been possible without Ico | Source: IMDB

Before going any further, let’s look at the rich world Ico created. Shadow of the Colossus started as Ico 2 but became a spiritual successor and a chronological prequel down the line. Since the games are never clear about their story, it’s up to you to decipher it. And when you do, trust me it creates a heartwrenching but beautiful tale.

Just Started Shadow Of Colossus and man, instant Masterpiece, my first impressions are as follow: Amazing presentation, very cinematic and intriguing i wanna learn more about this world and the story, the gameplay is very good i like the climbing and its amazing how fluid it is, its aged very well!
byu/NunoTheDude inShadowoftheColossus

That’s not all. Team Ico’s last game, The Last Guardian, exists in the same universe as well, and there’s plenty of connection you can discover here, especially since Ico leaves its ending deliberately cryptic. In short, Team Ico’s saga is something every gamer should try for themselves.

The Last Guardian also carries the Ico soul | Source: IMDB
The Last Guardian also carries the Ico soul | Source: IMDB

Did you know that Ico was one of the reasons that got Miyazaki into creating games? In some way, we even owe the brilliant Souls series’ existence to it. And that’s just the beginning. Zelda games, Metal Gear, The Sands of Time, God of War, and The Last of Us, all these games and their creators had Ico or Shadow of the Colossus as inspiration sources.

Do you see how important this one game was?

TIL that Hidetaka Miyazaki, the game director behind Dark Souls and Elden Ring, was an account manager for a US company until he played the game Ico, which inspired him to switch careers to game design. He became the president of FromSoftware within only 10 years.
byu/theflockofnoobs intodayilearned

Time To Bring It Back, Sony

Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian are as popular as it gets, so you must be wondering, if Ico is such a masterpiece, why haven’t I heard about it? If you’re a rather recent gamer, I don’t even blame you. This crown jewel was released for the PS2 and came to the PS3, but that’s it. No further appearances, a forsaken gem stuck on now obsolete platforms.

That’s not the end of Sony’s cruelty. Team Ico was a part of Japan Studio. See where I’m going with it? Ico is among Japan Studio’s gems that Sony sacrificed when it axed one of its finest first-party developers. Provided Team Ico had already disbanded when Ueda left in 2011, they continued to work on The Last Guardian, but soon the entire parent studio ceased to exist.

RIP Japan Studio
byu/bloodymexican inplaystation

What’s done is done, so we need to look at the future now. Team Ico may no longer be around, but its beautiful tale still is. Both The Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian are available on PS4 and by extension on the PS5. Ico, however, is still stuck. If Sony can bring back SotC as a remake, why not this gem? 

And I don’t necessarily want a remake. In fact, I’ll appreciate a simple port even more. Ico in its original state is an experience unlike any other, and making it available for today’s gamers would be no less than a service on Sony’s part.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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