Wanda to Kyozou (or "Wanda and the Colossus"), the latest game developed by the team that created ICO, is due to be unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show this week, but it seems that game designer and art director Fumito Ueda and producer Kenji Kaido - both of whom worked on the seminal ICO - have already spoken to the Japanese press about the project in more detail.
According to Ueda, the basic idea is to have the player "fighting a giant enemy", and by the sound of it the game is founded more or less solely on that principle. Rather like ICO, it begins with silent procession - the path of a young hero on horseback as he brings the lifeless body of a young girl who's lost her soul to a shrine over a giant bridge. Having deposited her on an altar inside, he's told by a voice from the heavens that the key to returning her to life is to defeat the giant beasts that stalk the land.
Also rather like ICO, it's a lonely experience - and the relationship between the boy and the girl is distinctly, perhaps deliberately, ambiguous. With the girl lying motionless in a shrine and nobody around to talk to about it, our hero and his horse are left to soldier on without any sort of emotional release. "The horse is like Ico's Yorda," Ueda told Japanese journos. "In addition to being the main character's companion, he has a supporting role in battle."
Ah, yes. Battle. But have no fear; this is no whack-the-shadow-demons slash-'em-up. Brought to life when touched, the colossus creatures can only be brought down when the player manages to climb up them and uncover a weak point, and making your way to it will be a rather puzzling and maze-like pursuit. On some creatures, attacking a certain area will change the layout and force you to rethink your path, while others will be hard enough to mount in the first place - one example had the game's hero dodging giant sword blows until the sword wound up driven into the ground long enough for him to clamber up it.
Other enemies will take the form of birds and other creatures, and their abilities and weaknesses will be difficult to pin down - or they themselves may be. The faster ones will require tracking on the horse, although the team aims to make the horse riding as visceral as possible so that players can "focus all their power on the battle". It certainly sounds fascinating, although there is a sense that some fans may be disappointed that we're not reunited with Ico and Yorda. Ueda and Kaido were united in their defence of making Wanda rather than Ico 2, however.
"When we finished Ico, we of course had to think about our next production. Normally, there would be talk of a sequel, but here, there was some opposition to that, along the lines of Ico being more than complete both in terms of gameplay and story, thus making production of a sequel very difficult, and also questions about whether users actually wanted a sequel. After much consideration, we decided to try a new game," Kaido explained.
You can find a couple of (small) shots of Wanda and the Colossus here. We'll try to bring you more when the Tokyo Game Show kicks off later this week.