Back in the youthful days of Sony's Playstation 2 console, the company was eager to bring in fresh blood with radical concepts. Enter newcomer Fumito Ueda, the unknown developer had an intriguing mandate to create a game with “design by subtraction”.
Ueda took the tried-and-true premise of ‘young hero rescues pretty princess’ and subverted it to the extent it evolved into something refreshingly unrecognisable. Almost all standard game traits were excised, there's was no hub, no power-ups, no weapons (asides from a minor stick), and no discernible dialogue.
Regardless, the young developer managed to create - between its horn-headed protagonist and his etherial waif companion - one of the most powerful relationships in gaming history, not to mention the earliest examples of advanced emotional storytelling in the medium.
Unfortunately even with a big push from Sony, the game barely made it to half a million units, and it languished into obscurity, especially with such sexier games like Devil May Cry and Grand Theft Auto 3 eating up the market.
It’s odd to think of Ico as forgotten nowadays though. Firstly, its spiritual successor Shadow Of The Colossus became the PS2’s most championed title. Secondly, the legacy it built is blatantly apparent across the industry, from blockbusters like The Last Of Us, to classic indie’s like Limbo. Even if it didn’t sell like hot cakes, the inspiration and impact it had on industry surpassed anyone’s expectations.