The Forces of Light and Dark in Ico
Why write about Ico
Anyone who really understands Ico will tell you that the background world and events of the game are not what the game is about, in fact they are largely irrelevant. The focus of the game is the relationship between the two main characters, and your relationship with them. So why write about the setting, the background story, when what really matters is simply the two main characters?
The initial motivation for such an examination of the game is simple curiosity. The world presented in the game is intriguing, a mysterious ancient fortress filled with spirits and magic and strange mechanisms. Your first time through your attention will be on the main story, the background will seem as irrelevant as it was intended to seem. However, if you are anything like me, you will eventually begin to think about the various things seen throughout the game, wondering how it all fits together and if there is something bigger going on.
What really makes it all interesting is that when you look closer you find that it does all fit together. To be exact, there is enough to let you know it all fits together, but not enough to tell you how it all fits together. One of the concerns some people have with 'overanalysing' the game is that you may damage it by taking away the simplicity the main story relies on, that by bringing in unecessary background details you will overcomplicate the whole thing and ruin the experience for yourself. Either through a huge coincidence or excellent design (and I suspect it is the latter) it seems that this cannot happen. After several years of thinking quite a lot about the events of the game, writing about it on and off, and trying to put it all together in any number of different ways, I have come to the conclusion that the game quite expertly gives you enough information to see the connections between the people and places and events in the game, but never tells you enough about any one thing to allow you to deduce the whole story.
There is enough to make the background of the game interesting and worth exploring, enough to allow you a sideways glance at the true meaning of the events, enough for you to make some connections and speculate about what might have been, but there is never enough for you to be truly certain about anything. The story of Ico is and will remain a mystery, the simplicity and beauty of Ico's and Yorda's adventure will remain intact, and those of us who are so inclined can continue to wonder about and imagine possibilities for as long as we choose to.
So, I write about Ico not to determine exactly what happened, but merely to show that something did happen, and to explore the possibilities of this fascinating world.
Written by Crumplecorn