Review of the game Ico logo
   The player enters the game as Ico, a 12 year old boy abandoned by his own people in a strange castle isolated on a tiny island. Every generation, a child is born with the Sign upon him; his head bears two little horns. It is thought that these children are cursed and must be sacrificed in order to save the village. Thus Ico is locked alive in a sarcophagus, next to countless other ones, cold witnesses of the other horned children sacrificed in that way before him. But in his despair, he manages to free himself, just to find he is locked in a huge fortress, a dark maze-like prison, inhabited only by shadows. All is not lost though. As Ico is wandering in the castle, he encounters another captive, Yorda, a young girl, who speaks a strange language. Though they cannot understand one another with words, and are of very different nature, they quickly become friends and learn to rely one on the other. While Ico has great physical strength, Yorda has high spiritual energy. Together, they may be be able to escape...
   It's difficult to find the words to capture all the essence and beauty of this game. Ico is like something familiar and mythical, yet fresh and original, dark and desperate, yet sweet and hopeful. It is very simple, though not in a diminishing way, on the contrary. This simplicity retains what is essential and creates a unique mood. There are no superfluous effects and sounds all over the place. The colours are kept to a delicate harmony of sepia, so there is no saturation of too many colours. The mood of the castle gets almost suffocating at times, which allows the player to really feel the oppression of the characters and share their relief when they reach some open air gardens. The white sky and the green colours are like a burst of colours and light after hours spent surrounded by dark stones. The sounds are all natural elements, such as the wind whispering in the trees or in the corridors, with an occasional subtle use of music, which emphasises important events. The lighting is simply breathtaking and confers to the images a wonderful and mystical look.
   The best thing about Ico is probably the concept of looking out for one another, and trying to think instead of shooting your way out of things. There are excellent riddles to solve, neither too hard nor too easy, and all of them quite logical: the answer can always be worked out, though sometimes it is quite tricky and requires a bit of thinking and daring. Ico can be quite athletic at times and succeeds jumps that you would think twice before trying! The game can be quite enerving at times, but it is worth the effort, and once you are really into it, you will truly enjoy it. It is simply a bit difficult at first, as it so different and much more calm and demanding than most other games.
   Also, Ico is easy to play and get into. There is no complicated commands nor technical side to master. Only basic commands buttons to jump, climb, use a rope, push a rock, call Yorda, hold her hand, pick up something or wield a stick/sword to defend her. Ico must always keep near Yorda and protect her, as dark shadows keep trying to catch her. He must wait for her and help her jump great distances. She is very reluctant at first, but as the game goes, she will be more trusting and will follow you faster, less hesistantly. By calling her, you can see where she is (if she is in the same room as you of course). Leaving her in another room must only be done in strict necessity and not for long or she will get swallowed by the shadows. When this happens, Ico dies instantly. It seems Yorda's spirituality protects him somehow. They simply cannot survive one without the other.
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