Team Ico’s The Last Guardian managed to create quite the buzz over the last decade. It was believed to be vaporware for the longest, but diretor Fumito Uedo managed to pull the development in tight and bring home a winner, because that’s how they roll. The finished product is a gameplay-heavy journey featuring a boy and a bird-dog named Trico.
There’s no actual narrative, despite a narrator briefly explaining certain scenarios and the context of some perilous situations. This has inevitably led a lot of people to question what the ending means and how the boy and Trico got there. Well, this article will briefly explain The Last Guardian.
The game starts with a boy in a pit with the bird-dog, Trico. Trico is chained up and appears to have broken armor scattered about him. The boy wakes up and attempts to get his bearings, but finds that he can’t seem to get out of the pit. The boy resolves to use Trico to help him escape, so he unhinges the chains around his neck and finds some barrels to feed to Trico after removing some spears from the bird-dog’s body.
The duo begin working together in an uneasy alliance that eventually buds into friendship after the boy begins to find Trico some barrels for him to eat, and the boy acquires a light-shield that can be used to direct Trico’s tail to fire pink celestial beams.
They make their way through the walled off valley, climbing over obstacles and overcoming knights attempting to capture the boy and pierce Trico with their spears.
The knights are disembodied, however, only present in the form of green mists that are held together by their armor. Occasionally the knights used the symbol of a talisman to strike fear into Trico’s heart, but the boy was not afraid of the symbol of the talisman and would find ways to break the paned glass on which the symbols were stained.
Throughout the journey Trico would occasionally become hypnotized by various entities of a mysterious nature, including large pots on carted tracks that lured Trico like catnip for cats. Trico would also fall prey to signals emanating from seemingly celestial radio towers, turning him against the boy and causing him on several occasions to eat the boy.
During these moments – when Trico was under the hypnotic spell of the celestial towers – the boy would let his mind fade into the darkness of his memories, where the events of the past would wash over him like the sandy shores of a beach when the evening tide rolls in.
It’s through these flashbacks that we learn that the boy’s current predicament of attempting to escape from the walled off valley where erect but crumbling towers are located, is all due to Trico.
It turns out that the bird-dog flew to the boy’s home, peeped into his window, gobbled him up, and flew him back toward the walled valley. However, Trico was struck by lightning during his return trip and his wings were damaged, forcing him to fall and crack the armor across his face and body.
The knights chained Trico, and carried him off to the pit. Trico regurgitates the boy, who is covered in mystical symbols, and that’s where the game starts.
The boy wakes up and then understands that the mystical radio towers force Trico to behave in unpleasant ways, and upon encountering them further into their adventures, the boy uses the light-shield to have Trico blast the radio towers.
Along the way they occasionally encounter another evil bird-dog who battles with Trico and attempts to capture the boy, but the duo manages to narrowly escape an incorrigible fate with a little luck and a lot of wits.
Several setbacks later, the duo continue their ascension of the tower, encountering a lot of close calls and near-death experiences.
All throughout the journey the valley’s towers crumble and fall – either from the weight of Trico or during the battles Trico encounters with the mystical knights.
Eventually, the duo manage to get to a tower filled with an army of knights, and they battle through them with the goal of finally discovering what’s at the top of the highest tower in the walled valley.
They finally reach the brain of the tower, which is a small, spherical, celestial body. The sphere is guarded by an amorphous black liquid that rescinds its integrity when the boy shines the light-shield on it, forcing the black liquid down to nothing. Nevertheless, the boy is unable to do anything against the sphere since Trico was unable to enter into the small space where the sphere is located.
The boy climbs outside where Trico is and the sphere decides to ruin them once and for all, using the mystical radio signal to lure an army of bird-dogs to its location. When the giant creatures arrive they regurgitate human bodies into the opening of a statue where the bodies are disposed off and turned into the glowing barrels that the boy had been feeding Trico throughout their journey. The souls of the people deposited into the tower are put into the disembodied knights.
The giant pots emitting the green aroma is a large collection of the substances that the regurgitated bodies are turned into, hence why the bird-dogs are lured by the gaseous material.
Trico and the boy learn of this only after seeing the other bird-dogs depositing the bodies into the tower.
The brainwashed bird-dogs then turn their attention to the boy and attempt to swallow him and deposit him, but Trico intervenes, only to have his tail ripped off. The boy is knocked around a bit and loses the light-shield, but manages to recover it and hops back down into the room with the celestial sphere. He uses Trico’s severed tail to align it at the sphere and blast open the cage and destroy it once and for all.
Trico rescues the boy as the main tower within the valley crumbles to pieces, and the giant bird-dog struggles to fly the boy to safety by returning him to his village.
The villagers are none too pleased with Trico making a return to their village after he first took the boy from them. With spears in hand, anguish in their hearts and fear in their eyes, the villagers poke and prod at Trico while a seemingly lifeless body of the boy is given to his parents.
Barely alive, the boy uses what strength he can gather to direct Trico away before he kills the villagers or the villagers kill him. His father remarks that Trico didn’t have long to live.
Later on, however, the boy grows into an older man and he discovers the light-shield in the dirt after some kids happen upon it. He cleans it up and aims it into the sky, which draws out the attention of Trico, who is now residing back in the pit where the knights had taken him after he was struck by lightning. Trico’s eyes glow green, indicating that he acknowledges the shield… just to the left of the screen a smaller pair of green eyes can be seen, indicating that there is a smaller Trico offspring in the pit, too.
TL;DR: In The Last Guardian, Trico is part of an army of bird-dogs who fly out and collect bodies for the celestial radio tower. The bodies are turned into food for the bird-dog while the souls of the individuals are turned into the disembodied knights. After failing a mission and being held captive by his overlord, Trico is helped by the boy he captured and the duo attempt to ascend the tower and escape. They kill the overlord and Trico returns the boy to his home where the boy grows up to be an older man. After discovering the horrible fate of what happens to the people at the tower, and the dangers he put the boy through, Trico returns to the walled valley and resides in the pit where he was thrown by the knights, possibly as a form of his own punishment for the atrocities he committed, living out life with a smaller offspring. However, some theorize that the smaller pair of green eyes indicates that Trico may have been a pregnant female or a unisex creature and gave birth to a small Trico.
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