Ico (2001) is a running, jumping and exploring game where you rescue a princess from her evil mother. You take her hand to help her escape, guiding her along the pathways and protecting her from the hordes of enemies. Together, you jump chasms and scale walls in your daring escape from the castle. Ico stands out not only for these unusual interactions but the fluid painterly visuals and emotive story.
You play the title character Ico, who is born with horns interpreted as a bad omen by his tribe. He is locked away in a castle to be sacrificed but escapes, meeting the evil Queen's daughter Yorda, who wishes to escape. Thus begins your quest, which sees you solve puzzles and avoid traps on your way to freedom.
You push, pull, climb and jump to solve puzzles blocking your way. Because Yorda can only jump small distances, you must make it safe for her to follow you. You can also tell her to wait until you have made the path safe for her. Conversely, only Yorda can open the doors between rooms, forcing you to help her reach them. All the while, you must also fight shadow monsters, which threaten to capture Yorda, using your sword.
The game was met with critical acclaim for its unique visual storytelling and plot, and focuses on themes of protection, perseverance and friendship. Its gameplay has inspired many of the most popular platforming games since, and was innovative in its use of elements we now see in almost every major release.
Our examiner, Ben Kendall
, first checked Ico 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson
and updated 10 months ago.