Jim Sterling's Terrible Bucket List: ICO
I have a theory when it comes to ICO. I think most people just say they love it because they're afraid of looking stupid. ICO is one of those games that people talk about "getting" as if there's something deep and complex in there and I reckon that makes people too frightened to say that, really, ICO isn't half as great as people say.
Here's the thing -- ICO is just an escort mission with faded colors. It has everything in it that makes escort missions terrible -- a braindead retard of a worthless scrotum who you have to constantly coddle and babysit, a tendency for said scrotum to get carried off if you so much as turn your back on her, and a general inability to do anything without having to constantly keep an eye on the bitch.
Escort missions are among the most commonly despised crutches in video game design. Nobody in their right mind enjoys them. For some reason, however, it's perfectly acceptable for ICO to be an entire escort mission -- the epitome of escort missions in fact -- and become applauded as one of the greatest games ever made.
Not to mention it's also really annoying. Unless, of course, your idea of entertainment is hearing a little boy going "Ontwa? DUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRR! Ontwa? DUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRR!" over and over again. And I mean over ... and over ... again. If they're going to make you scream at Yorda for the duration of the experience, would it have killed them to give ICO more than two irritating noises? DUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRR!
The game's environmental puzzles aren't terrible, but they're not exactly mindblowing. They lack the sense of scale and thrill that would come later with Shadow of the Colossus and are generally rather slow paced and dull. When ICO isn't being annoying, it's simply being boring.
And where does all this "emotion" come from in the game? Feeling something for characters in a game would require the prerequisite of characters worth caring about, and I hope you can forgive me for not finding a mentally incompetent burden or a kid who shouts "DUUUUUR" particularly endearing. Both characters spend the entirety of the game being irritating and stupid. Why in the name of bloody buggering Christ should I care about either of the bastards?
The only thing ICO has done incredibly well is to inspire a legion of the most pretentious, artsy fartsy, "look at me I know so much about art" reviews in the history of the industry. Things like, "ICO never tells you what to do but it tells you exactly what to do, aaaahhhh" or "ICO is not a perfect game but it is a game of perfect moments fart fart fat." It's the Animal Farm of video games -- in that it's ostensibly rubbish, but we've all got to pretend it's great.
ICO's a boring game, and an annoying one to boot. This has been proven as an objective fact, but like other facts such as natural selection and the talent of Phil Collins, it has been ignored by the masses so they can continues their idyllic, rose-tinted, unquestioning lives of falsehood.
Don't be afraid to admit that ICO really isn't very good. You'll feel better for it.