How wild the sea is,
and over Sado Island,
the River of Heaven.
— Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)
The entire plot of ICO takes place within the sunbathed confines of the Castle. Many corridors, tunnels, chambers, towers, gates, and stairways must be navigated before Ico and Yorda can find freedom.
It’s like [the crumbling structures have] been built and rebuilt on top of each other in a sort of rushed architectural colonization. ICO’s castle could have once been warm and hospitable, but generations of isolation and regression has turned it into an unforgiving fortress, retrofitted only to keep its subjects in and outsiders out. None of this is said, but all of it is felt. — Jacob Geller