If you're reading this, you are most likely away that "Ico: Castle in the Mist" is a novelization of the acclaimed 2001 PlayStation 2 classic video game, "ICO." The story can be summarized thusly: A young boy with horns, named Ico, is sacrificed by his people to a mysterious castle. After being escorted to the castle by a priest and a pair of guards, he is locked in a sarcophagus and left alone inside. The sarcophagus, however, fails to contain young Ico. He wanders about the castle before quickly running into a strange but beautiful girl locked in an iron cage. She is mysterious, garbed in white and holding some kind of power over the castle. Though she does not seem to speak his language, they work together seeking an escape from the castle's ever present entrapment.
The game relied on stunning visuals and touching physical interaction between Ico and the mysterious girl Yorda to illustrate it's world and touch the player. However, novels have no such luxury. Therefore, Miyuki Miyabe therefore took it upon herself to flesh out the details. Where does Ico come from? Why was he sacrificed to the Castle in the Mist? What is so special about him? Miyabe was given permission from the creators of the game to answer these questions herself, filling in the questions and gaps left by the game. That is not to say, however, that this novelization is accurate to the world created by Fumito Ueda and the other creators of the Team Ico games. Rather, the story presented here can be viewed as one possible version of the world. It is, in Miyabe's words, a "variation on the world of 'ICO'" and is a "novelization of the story found in the PlayStation 2 game.... Sort of."
So, what is important is not the story's accuracy, but rather it's ability to give the reader the same sense of wonder and immersion that the original game was so good at conveying. Does it succeed? Well, to be fair as of this writing I am only 40% of the way through the book. Much of that 40%, however, was spent telling the story before Ico ever enters the castle. The reader is shown his village, people that knew and cared for the boy. You are told why he is sacrificed, why the villagers obey the custom. And as a book it does this very well. It is a simple, light, fast read. Perhaps it is merely the excitement of living in this world once more, or getting to see another part of it (even if it isn't in line with the canon established by Shadow of the Colossus), but I find it difficult to stop reading. The personality given to Ico seems to be based heavily on how he moves and gestures in the game. While I have yet to see him wave and shout "BUUURRRR" or even an "Oompah!", he is a well mannered active young boy. He runs about and plays in the woods, but is disciplined and behaved (explaining his obedience at the beginning of the game). Even an explanation for his inhuman stamina and resilience is given, which I found particularly amusing.
I find myself now excited to see what happens next, and how other events from the game are handled. If you have ever played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, you know how indescribable the beauty and atmosphere of those worlds are. If you find yourself longing to revisit that world, this "Ico: Castle in the Mist" is the perfect way to do so. It is a fresh take on the dusty old towers and stone of ICO. And should you be unfamiliar with either of those games, do yourself a favor and pick them up. If you have a PS3, please consider the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection coming out Sept 2011. And should after playing either of those games you are left wanting more, please consider giving "Ico: Castle in the Mist" a read. You will find a world of magic and loss and love within its pages.