"Project Trico" flashes on the screen, followed by "Sony Computer Entertainment". There's a low rumble, and Trico, the bird-like dog creature, slumbers. This isn't The Last Guardian's opening, but whatever it is, it looks great.
Sony tells the room of assembled press that we are looking at a "vertical slice"—a demo that is designed to give an idea of what the final game is like. Sony describes it as similar to a tutorial, but is quick to point out that some actions may or may not be in the final game, which is slated for release later this year.
The gameplay demo begins as a young boy attempts to rouse Trico from his sleep, by calling his name and pulling his ear. Narration plays over the actions, giving the game a fairytale feel. The environment is alive, with rays of light creeping in and dust floating about. This is a living, breathing world. The boy picks up a vase and chucks it at the creature. Of course, players will be able to direct the boy's actions, and as the boy tries to wake up Trico, his stamina meter drains. The environment is pure fantasy and the characters speak a language all their own, but the boy's movements and actions are incredibly life-like.
Trico slowly wakes. However, at this point in the game, he will not listen to the boy's commands. The goal here isn't simply to rouse the creature, but to escape from the prison-type tower they're trapped in. "Why they are there," Ueda tells Kotaku, "all that will be revealed at a later date as you play the game." The designer does tell Kotaku that the sleeve-length tattoos covering the boy's arms are henna.
The boy goes into a nearby side room, which houses a vase with fumes wafting out. The game will supposedly have more streamlined controls than Shadow of the Colossus, which seems to be evident by an on-screen prompt. For example, one prompt directs the boy to pick up the vase, which he does. Trico loves the smell emanating from the vase. Later footage that Kotaku saw during an interview with Ueda showed Trico seeming to yack up his food.
The boy wants to get up to an above terrace, so he goes upstairs and throws it over at the terrace, which he cannot reach. Trico then stands up on his hind legs, and the boy is able to then climb up on Trico and shimmy his way up to the terrace. There's a chain, and the boy climbs up it higher and higher, giving a panoramic to the dungeon's immense size. Down below, there's Trico.
"Trico's an animal," says Last Guardian designer Fumito Ueda, "and has a mind of his own."
As the relationship between Trico and the boy develops over the course of the game, the creator begins to listen to the boy. Ueda, however, would not confirm who exactly the last guardian is—whether it is the boy or Trico. It's worth noting that the Japanese title is entirely different: Hitokui no Owashi Triko or "The Human-Eating Eagle, Toriko".
Up on the terrace, a guard appears. He has glowing eyes. The boy goes into stealth mode by pressing up against the wall and tries to sneak past the guard, but he's noticed. The guard chases after the boy, but he's heavier and slower then the much more agile and lighter child. His armor weighs him down, and the boy escapes. While Trico can take out the guards with his brute strength, the boy can only escape.
Another one of the game's compelling contrasts is brought forward. "I want to explore the relationships in Shadow of the Colossus further," Ueda tells Kotaku. It's not so much relations in the literal sense, but rather, the abstract sense. Light versus heavy, dark versus light. Ueda's games are designed in a world of stark contrasts but exist entirely in the gray midst between black and white.
In The Last Guardian, one of the other contrasts is Trico's dynamic movements. Trico, for example, is able to crush in-game structures with his weight, and when he jumps or moves, he makes grand gestures. Subtle, his movements are not.
Back up on planks and platforms above, the boy calls for Trico repeatedly, but Trico down below doesn't listen. "He's in a bad mood," Ueda says. Finally, the beast leaps up to where the boy is, perching on planks that overlook the cavern below. It's around that time that the impressive, albeit ever-so short, eyes-on-demo draws to a close.