The playable demo for Ico was a small section of the game distributed with an issue of PlayStation Magazine in 2001. The demo lets the player explore and solve a few select areas from the beginning of the game up to the first encounter with the Queen at the castle's main gate.
- The game does not show any of the opening cutscenes; it simply starts with Ico's coffin being dislodged.
- Amusingly, Ico has the stick right from the get-go, even as he's being launched out of the falling coffin.
- Yorda's cage is already lowered in the big spiral room. The first encounter with the shadow creatures is more dramatic - several flyers swoop down from above and grab Yorda.
- Instead of leading outside to the old bridge, the door leading out of the spiral room leads to the interior room from the "graveyard" section, where Ico must find a way to get Yorda to raised Idol Gates. The puzzle itself is vastly simpler (the far side is already raised, and there is a crate provided which makes getting there easy for both), but the fierce attack in the middle is intact.
- The exit from the room mentioned above leads right to the windmill area. This area is also simpler (Ico can simply ride handles on the windmill blades from the very bottom to the top, before extending the bridge for Yorda to cross as normal). The blades are reversed and spin in the opposite direction compared to the final game. (For obvious reasons, the save couch has been taken out of this area.)
- The narrow exit from the windmill stage takes the duo to the main entrance, where the usual cutscene plays. The pair try to reach the closing door in time, but Yorda slips and falls. As the Queen begins to appear behind Yorda, the screen fades to white and the words "Coming Soon..." appear onscreen. A short video containing some more gameplay footage (with "You Were There" present in the background) plays, ending the demo.
- In the demo, players actually had the option to let go of Yorda's hand after catching her when she jumps across the bridge. This feature is completely absent from the finished game, likely to avoid unwanted cruelty towards Yorda.