Last of Us II: Revenge Only Brings Misery For Those Seeking Closure

In defense of the Last Of Us II’s Story And Themes

A couple of nights ago, I finally finished playing the Last of Us II on the PS4. It was a long grind and at the end of it, I was mentally exhausted. But after taking in everything the game offered, I have to say that Last of Us II is a great game in which story-telling was full on display and definitely stands out as a great game taking on dystopia and survival horror genre.

(It’s hard to not spoil the game when writing about it. I will take caution but some of the hints may give it away. But I will try to write about what makes the game great without giving too much away. But I can’t promise you might put the puzzle pieces together. With that being said, let’s continue)

It’s been seven years since the first Last of Us debuted in 2013. The game came out to critical acclaim and for good reason. I did one play-through but didn’t finish it. So I caught up with the story from YouTube.

With Last of Us II, Naughty Dog, the developers of the series have once again put their best foot forward, delivering a great game for the PS4. But with the sequel comes some controversy which disgruntled fans of the original and caused a lot of arguments on the internet.

The game starts with the game re-introducing you to Ellie, the young girl from the first series. Ellie is now all grown up and the game focuses on her character and her development throughout the game.

After a traumatic event, Ellie sets off on a quest of revenge to Seattle, where she encounters different human factions including a cult, soldiers and of course, the infected.

During her quest, Ellie is accompanied by Dina, a love interest who assists Ellie to take down foes on her quest of revenge. You pair up with other characters through the game as well.

The Last of Us II draws a lot of parallels to “The Walking Dead” series. In a post-apocalyptical world, you not only have to deal with infected, but also the “animalistic” nature of humans in a world which has seemingly lost its humanity. At some point, it can be hard to decipher who is
“good” or “bad”.

In a move which has been causing a lot of controversy amongst gamers, Naughty Dog added a new element to the Last Of Us II: Playing as a secondary character named “Abbie”.

It’s a gutsy move especially when you start playing as this new character. In the beginning, I can see why gamers would be annoyed at this move. But after more play through and getting more of her back story, I understand the developers methods in outlining Abbie’s story and which her character is important to the story of Last of Us II.

Abbie

I can understand gamers frustrations in playing this new “controversial” character but the move does open the Last Of Us II story to explore different characters and their developments.

You don’t know a person until you walk a mile in their shoes” is a phrase which fits perfectly with this.

At one point, after progress with both characters, the player has to ask themselves: “Who is the real villain in this game?

At the end, you get to answer that question.

Violence And Atmosphere

The Last of Us II can be a tough play-through. The game is (at times literally) dark and can be very brutal. You get to use different weapons at take down enemies. These include crowbars, swinging bats at enemies’s skulls, using shotguns which can disembowel enemies….

It’s a lot to take in. The sound of a hammer hitting the skull of an enemy can be a bit disorienting especially as you see pools of blood oozing on the floor as they lay dead.

At some point in the game, dogs are used by enemies to sniff you out and yes, you have to dispose of them (as a dog lover, this hurt a lot).

The atmosphere in the Last of Us II is very well done. Sometimes you play through levels which can be eerily quiet. You notice every creak and sound as you explore an abandoned house or building. Before you know it, you’re getting charged at by an infected and it can go from 0 -100 really fast. I experienced a lot of this and I never got used to it.

Very minimal HUD display

Credit has to be given for creating a very immersive game. The UI for the Last of Us II is very minimal and at times, almost non existent. Unless you’re switching weapons or crafting items, there is almost no HUD while playing. You dare not even look away at cutscenes because you might miss a quicktime action which might lead to your character’s death. The switch from cutscenes to gameplay is also impressively done.

In Defense Of The Direction of The Story

At the early start of the game, an “event” happens which triggers the journey of Ellie to Seattle.

Gamers were agitated at this direction. Although I empathise, I like the risk that Naughty Dog took. Sometimes writers and creatives don’t have to play favorites because the crowd wants more of something.

Linkin Park was a rap/rock band where the lead singer was known for his strong screaming vocals on songs. But at some point, the band decided to try a new sound which can be described as a “mellow” sound. Not everyone was in favor but as a fan, I loved that the band wanted to do something different.

Experimentation and exploration should be allowed and embraced in video games. More of the same can get old. I would rather a video game take risks with their characters and story than give us more of the same thing (Are you listening Call Of Duty…)

The direction of the game in Last of Us II executes this and I for one think it played out well. Yes, it was controversial but looking at how the game ended, I think it was fitting.

Now, with a TV show deal in place, I think the writers at Naughty Dog have more room to flesh out the Last of Us universe.

Epilogue

When you complete Last of Us II, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief. One thing I have to note is the length of the game. It’s long. It’s an easy 30 hour play-through. But once you add in how mentally exhausting it can be, you may find yourself taking your time in playing it to the end. I found the ending satisfying especially after the long journey.

An Eye For Eye” is a central theme that plays throughout the game as you venture on Ellie’s quest. It makes you think about the theme of violence as you continue to down Ellie’s path and start to ask yourself: “Is this worth it?”

That’s how I felt till the end. It was a lot to take in. But at the end, it was satisfying to see how the story ended.

So where does Naughty Dog go from here? They can decide to make the Last of Us III or they can decide to end the game series with this sequel. With the advent of the new TV show, they could go in either direction. I for one, would look forward to a new IP. But that’s just my opinion.

Last of Us II is a great game. From its atmosphere, game play mechanics and overall story, there’s lots to love here. You may have disagreement in the direction of the story and you may be totally valid in your opinion.

But if you take a step back and look at the Last of Us II, it’s a story driven game which takes risks. Those risks may have riled up a fanbase but I think taking risks to help with character growth is welcome.

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