Reliving Ico’s ending: taking a stroll along PS2′s most traumatising beach

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be by the sea… hang on. What’s this? Oh, it’s a horribly traumatic sight that encapsulates the dying flickers of childhood friendship, selfless companionship and sacrifice. Yeah, we don’t really feel like having a 99 Flake and that donkey ride anymore.

More on Team Ico

Sound is the most enduring aspect of Ico. Almost entirely bereft of an actual score, the game’s ambient sound effects are damn near deafening – no one does the haunting howl of a strong gust quite like Team Ico. This sensational audio achievement is never more prevalent than in the ethereal PS2 adventure’s post-credits epilogue.

After five hours of toiling through a labyrinthine castle with a small horned boy and his spectral-like companion Princess Yorda, the game hits you with a devastating finale. Upon vanquishing an evil queen, the pair attempt to escape, only for Ico to become wounded. It’s at this point his delicate royal chum loads the lad into a small vessel (seemingly only big enough for one in a Titanic-style quirk of fate) and tenderly pushes him down an estuary that leads out of the crumbling castle.

That the credits role before you can determine the fate of this gentle soul you’ve shepherded through gaming’s loneliest dungeon is hella cruel. Yet once the last of those tremendously talented Japanese names fades from the screen, you’ll be begging for the uncertainty you once lambasted.

“The disorientating beachside stroll seems to stretch on forever”

Waking upon a lonely, brilliantly bleached shore, Ico groggily stumbles into the distance. Expertly teasing the camera only a few yards ahead of your hero, the disorientating beachside stroll seems to stretch on forever. That is, until you see the spec of a body in the distance, and the howling of that wind and the crashing of those waves usher you towards your fallen friend. Truly one of PlayStation’s finest, if traumatising, finales.

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