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How Team Ico Got Animal And Human Communication Right In Its Games – GameRant

Team Ico is famous for its video games that are minimalist in storytelling. Its games are more than entertainment and show how video games can be forms of art. Its three titles are Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian. While all tell different stories, they are in a similar world where there are very few NPCs. Team Ico has made games that are memorable, beautiful, and emotional, often delving into relationships without words and focusing on environments that are ruins mixed with nature.


Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian had commonalities, but one in particular is unique to Team Ico, and that is how the human protagonists communicate with their animal sidekicks. There are a ton of video games with protagonists having animal sidekicks, from Dogmeat in Fallout to Epona in The Legend of Zelda. However, none emulated the communication between humans and animals quite as Team Ico has in Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian.

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When it comes to video game animal sidekicks, their actions are either completely controlled by the player or automatic. Dogmeat auto-attacks aggressive enemies while the player can also command him to find items. Epona is basically controlled by the player once Link takes the reins. Argo and Trico are different, however. They are creatures the player can only make suggestions to, and it is up to them whether the conditions are satisfying enough to obey.

Agro is a horse that feels far more like a living ride than an extension of the player’s control. The horse can decide whether a jump is too far or high, no matter how much the player wants him to jump. Agro also gets scared and will stop if the player suggests something the horse views as too dangerous. However, Agro is quite a brave horse and still manages to help Wander in his fight against many of the colossi. Some players do get frustrated when Agro does not turn or jump when commanded, but that is how horses can really be, and it shows off that Agro is in fact intelligent and can make choices. In fact, Agro is often not quick to meet the demands of the player pushing buttons. That is because the buttons are suggestions made by Wander, not an extension controlling the horse.

Trico is a creature far more involved in the plot of its game, The Last Guardian. While Agro is a sidekick to Wander and not central to the plot, Trico is both. Trico is not just a ridable animal, but one that needs to help the player solve puzzles. If players found Agro frustrating to work with, then they likely had a really hard time with Trico, since he is necessary all the time. However, this was the magic of The Last Guardian. Trico is a mysterious animal and one that the player is slowly learning about throughout the game. The boy and Trico depend on each other but have a lot of barriers to get over in order to escape the ruins. Like Team Ico’s other titles, communication is a major theme in The Last Guardian, and it shows by finding ways to coax Trico into solving puzzles, calming him if he’s scared, and telling him if he needs to jump.

Team Ico has inspired many video game developers with its games, but none have yet emulated the same animal and human communication in their games. This is because Team Ico’s choice, while beautiful, realistic, and poignant, is risky in the industry. A lot of games strive for ease in controlling mounts and sidekicks, rather than going for realism, but Team Ico‘s dedication to realism makes its games stand apart.

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