As a platform game ICO may not be what you're looking for, but as an art it stands as the best one around.

User Rating: 9.5 | ICO PS2
Since video games were born no one has ever attributed art into it. Of course lots of beautiful games with a high variety of genuine and artistically concepts were created but, none of them achieve a high level of recognition and value, always staying behind the ones who satisfied everyone. Making a violent game with brutal scenes, loads of fights and incredible characters or fantastic beasts was a guarantee of creating a top seller game praised by most of players.

The 20th century was coming and gaming was taking such a great place among entertainment, that not only kids were playing video games, it was a time when everyone saw something more in electronic games, good stories, a nice pastime, fun, excitement and unfortunately obsession. A lot of people started to enjoy video games, some more than others, but the video game market was increasing and consequently gaining loads of fans from all around the world. It was then, in the middle of the violent wave of games, when lots of parents were criticizing the brutality behind the screen that emerged an original and forevermore beautiful idea of creating a game, better put, creating an art.

The idea came up from Fumito Ueda and his thoughts to create a "boy meets girl" story, different from every game this one would be a mini novel focusing on a boy's quest while he and a girl would hold each other hands throughout the game. ICO then came, gracefully by lots of people efforts.

ICO the main protagonist in a brief way is just a child who born with horns which means a bad omen by his village. Without choice at the age of 12 he is taken by a group of warriors to a supposed uninhabited castle, to be confined in a sarcophagus to die. After his containment a tremor runs through the castle making his sarcophagus collapse liberating him. Free and alone ICO starts his journey to escape the castle.

As soon as the game begins, as you play with ICO, you can see the adventure and platform style of gameplay, and the strong sense of immensity. Just in the first room of the game you can already see how great worked are the graphics and the character itself. Just a few minutes from the beginning you'll see something similar to a big bird cage where a young girl lies. For your surprise the forsaken castle is inhabited, but ICO and the girl are not alone. After you freed her you'll see some dark creatures with horns trying to drag her into a black vortex, after saving her you'll now have her company throughout the whole game.

Yorda is the strange girl's name which ICO rescues. The fact she will go along with you throughout the whole game can be a limiting factor to several players, whom will find this as a boring or difficult thing. In the other hand, some players may find it good as it make the gameplay unique. In way or another, you'll have to worry not only about you but with Yorda as well.

It would be a lie to say that the game isn't about moving from a point to another, but that really don't ruins the simple but great and unique gameplay the game can offer. The game prime objective is to find a way out of the castle and it won't take long for you to realize that taking Yorda with you is not only good but also necessary. Mysteriously Yorda has the power to open new paths moving away blocks which in the first look, seemed to be forevermore static. But such power cannot help her much since those dark creatures can affect, hurt and hold her. On the other hand, ICO stands invulnerable before these creatures, leaving him with the hard work of defeating them.

Your new friend will now keep up with you, following you or you can also walk hand in hand to accelerated things. Yorda is far from agile so it's up to ICO to help her whenever she needs him. She can't jump over long distance or fall from a high place, she can't climb things, only a typical ladder and she's overall very slow when comparing to ICO himself. ICO is the arm of the union, he is incredibly agile, fast, strong and he can climb chains, hold heavy objects and he can wield white weapons among other things. There are parts in the game that this is very notable, when ICO has to arrange the whole scenery just to Yorda cross it without difficult and with gracefulness.

As you're making your way out of the castle it's difficult not to appreciate the game's beautiful graphics and effects, not only the quality but also the design of it will make sure to keep you begging for more of that amazing landscapes and the perpetual beauty behind every scenario. Almost every detail can caught the player's attention, it would be coward not to say how beautiful the lighting and movement effects are.

Throughout the game you will find many puzzles, which most of them are clearly but yet very clever. The puzzles are very well made and fortunately they don't stop the continuous flow of the game, it just came naturally for anyone to solve them with calm and without protraction. These actions are often intercepted by enemies whom try to drag Yorda away. Also if ICO move far away enough from Yorda, the game will be over with a little cut scene of Yorda being dragged to the black vortex.

After playing the game for a brief period of time you'll realize it has no music. But while many may think not, this aspect just adds more to the atmosphere of the game and it just fits perfectly. You'll just hear sounds like the wind and other environment aspects, and the characters voice, which are often followed by an echo effect that gives more strength to it. It's totally grateful when you hear a sweet voice coming out of the lifeless body of Yorda and the desperate and yet deep-seated voice of the young boy ICO.

The game environment and scenario are faultless produced. Every room has it's own particular atmosphere and meaning, and every little place in the castle is well organized. As you progress with the game some times you'll reach areas that you'll be able to see other places in the castle where you have already been. In other cases you'll see places where you'll still reach therefore while progressing in the game. Another point is how beautiful all these places are, it will come naturally a desire to admire every little aspect of all those landscapes with well use of lighting effects and blurry.

The feeling of solitude and immensity is remarkable intense within the game. Even with Yorda at your side you'll feel like you're all alone. There is no speech dialog and almost all the sounds in the game are made by you. The scenarios are always huge which adds even more to the sense of solitude in the game. All of this possibly leads most of players to create a shy but yet strong bond with ICO and the game itself.

ICO will sure surprise most of players either with it's unique style of gameplay or it's beautiful artistic value. All of it was made with affectionately care and it deserves a lot of respect for it. Unfortunately it isn't a game for everyone, there are plenty of people who wouldn't have the patience to give the game a chance. The game from another side isn't completely flawless, since after you finishing it, basically there's nothing left to do, unless playing it again just to observe the beautiful scenarios again.

Furthermore, ICO is a must play game. Rescue your immortal Playstation 2 to play it for once, you won't regret.

*Sorry for my poor english*