Fear and Friendship
Imagine inheriting something that sets you apart from your friends and family; a physical feature you cannot hide but which will see you cast out from your homeland. A tragic inevitability haunts your birth - you know you will never reach adulthood. Alone and entombed, exiled from your family as a harbinger of bad luck, isolation is your only friend...
Now imagine finding a kindred spirit in the darkness that surrounds you. Looking up and seeing a light so bright that it illuminates your path and asks for your help. Suddenly, escape seems possible. There are two of you now, and together you know much can be achieved. You know that a friendship like this can overcome whatever lies in your way...
The Story of Ico
Ico is the story of a young boy who - born with an abnormality which makes him grow horns - is destined to die, to ward off the 'evil eye' that his horns represent. Any misfortune that befalls his village is attributed to Ico, and when the boy turns 12, the villagers decide the time has come to erase his existence before more calamities befall them.
Ico is taken away to a secluded cliff-side on which lies a dank, dark and disturbing ancient fortress. Those that place Ico here intend to leave him to starve or freeze to death within these ruinous walls - only then will his curse be lifted from their village. The fortress is uninhabited, they believe, and if any life should exist there, it will be in the form of malign spirits who will surely scare the boy to death if the cold and hunger don't get to him first.
But Ico is not alone. In his feverish, dreamy state, the vision of a ghostly female appears before Ico. And when he breaks free from his tomb, Ico learns that this was no dream or trick of the mind - the girl is flesh and blood, and is hanging above him like a delicate, celestial caged bird. As much as Ico needs her help, he soon realises this mysterious girl needs his help, too.
So begins a journey in which you, playing as Ico, support Yorda as you look for an escape route. For Yorda, this means freedom from an evil mother who intends to keep her imprisoned in the fortress forever more. For both of you, this means sealing the ultimate pact of friendship - without each other's help, Yorda is doomed to be shackled down by shadowy spirits that lurk in the darkness and you are destined to fulfil your tragic fate. But together, you can overcome evil. Where Yorda is weak, you can be strong. When you don't know where to look, Yorda can point to the light. With each other's encouragement, you can both wake up from your nightmares.
Ico is a very different game. It's an adventure game but it has a look and feel that's world's away from many other adventure titles. The scenery drips with atmosphere and distracting music is replaced by an evocative soundscape that includes characters' breathing, the flickering of candles and the melancholy chorus of early morning birds.
Never before has light looked so ethereal in a game as it does in the shimmering, luminous dress worn by Yorda. And never has a game fused dreams and reality so seamlessly. It's this unique atmosphere that lends Ico a truly involving experience for the player - this is a game that totally transports you to another world where the ambience is almost another character in its own right.
The relationship between the young characters Ico and Yorda is at the heart of this game. You'll fall under the spell of the two friends as you take on the role of Ico and try to lead the fragile Yorda to safety. Ico's physical stamina must be enough for the two of them, and Ico must assist Yorda in overcoming a variety of different obstacles. If Yorda is unable to climb a chain, Ico must find an alternative route; if Yorda is overcome by fear when contemplating a dangerous jump, Ico must use reassuring words to give her the confidence to make the leap.
Ico's gameplay is grounded in the concept of teamwork. The modern mantra of 'each man for himself' is replaced by an almost mythical idea of gallantry, a theme rarely seen in most adventure games. As Ico and Yorda help each other traverse the perils of the fortress, their heroism, friendship and selflessness will offer you a truly emotive gaming experience.
Ico is a game that’s quick and easy to pick up. It's a title where the uncluttered environments (no distracting inventory or energy bars to worry about) are echoed in the intuitive game controls. Unlike many adventure titles, Ico doesn't call for arduous learning of button combinations; instead, ease of gameplay means you can pick this up and get straight to the heart of the game - the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day.
All the in-game animation in Ico has been created by hand, not through motion capture. As a result, Ico and Yorda have a filmic grace to them - there are no sharp edges, stiff movements or glaring colours to these characters. Instead, you can almost feel Yorda's frailty thanks to the realistic animation that lies at the heart of the game.
Graphically, playing Ico is like looking at the soft tones of an old sepia photograph - subtle, evocative and melancholic. Harsh colours are replaced with a beautiful palette of earthy tones which brings to life the fortress and the shadowy figures that populate it, as well as the unforgettable characters of Ico and Yorda.
For the European launch of Ico, there will be a limited edition boxed version of the game, available only on the first day of release, March 20th. The game will be presented in an exclusive slipcase and will also include four postcards featuring the stunning visuals featured in the game.
Ico is different to the other members of his village. Through the inheritance of a set of random genetics - the legacy of generations of his people - Ico has been born with a set of horns jutting from his head. Viewed as a curse by the other villagers, Ico is fated to fulfil an unhappy destiny whereby he is taken from his home at the age of 12 and banished to an eerie fortress to die of hunger and cold.
But Ico has a strong spirit and innate sense of survival. Both inquisitive and industrious, Ico has enough strength for two people - it is this stamina that must ensure his route to freedom.
Yorda is a princess, elfin and waif-like, and bathed in an almost supernatural looking glow. Her fragility immediately captivates Ico who vows to help Yorda escape from her evil mother.
Raised to become a spiritual vessel for her mother who intends to rob Yorda of her youthful body, Yorda is destined to remain imprisoned in the fortress for the rest of her days, watched over by a brood of malign and shadowy spirits.
Unable to communicate with Ico in the same language, Yorda decides never the less to place her trust in him.
And while her meekness and physical weakness may make her totally dependent on Ico at times, she too has powers that will help the two of them in their journey to freedom.
The fortress is ruled by a vicious queen who controls not only the destiny of her daughter, but can overpower any body or soul who enters her kingdom. An unknown quantity, the Queen can magic herself into the form of both a spirit and a human. Her minions take the form of shadowy beasts - squat, bloated figures tasked with shackling Yorda to her hostile prison.
Text taken from icothegame.com