Most helpful critical review
Myst for the year 2001...
on October 20, 2002
Ico is a stellar achievement when it comes to environment. Astounding graphics, understatedly perfect sound effects, and the thoroughly haunting and appropriate music with heavy on the strings. Go anywhere in the castle that makes up the game field and you can see the other portions of the castle from the proper persepective. You're truly immersed in this world.
And therein lies the problem...
As other reviews have stated, Ico is short--astoundingly so, for a game that cost $40+ at one point. Any gamer with even moderate experience would complete the game in less than 10 hours; expert gamers might squeeze in under 5. As a result, the game designers never really build a mythology that is the hallmark of a classic.
Oh, don't get me wrong. For the few hours it lasts, you'll get attached to Ico and his wispy companion. The problem is that, most likely, you won't care about them after it's over. The player never gains a clear understanding of why this castle exists, how it came to be in this state of disrepair, and why the denizens of the castle act the way they do.
In other words, the designers failed to construct a mythology as compelling and immersive as their castle. As such, Ico is much like Myst+, a gorgeous puzzle game (with far more logical puzzles) that ultimately turns out to be not much more than that.