The Last of Us Part II is a truly immersive experience which is challenging, thought provoking, and beautiful. The team at Naughty Dog should be super proud of what they have created.
Before playing the game I made sure I knew practically nothing about other opinions on the game. I didn’t want their thoughts to hinder my experience of the game. This in turn, made me shocked at the amount of hate that was directed towards the game. I initially couldn’t understand why people disliked the game so much. However, I do believe there are some valid points why people may dislike the game. I understand the story is not for everyone. For instance, Joel dying right at the beginning, Ellie being an unplayable character for a couple hours in the game, Abby being a character who takes a quite long time to develop a connection with, and so forth. It’s challenging. Whilst I believe Naughty Dog did an excellent job at making these creative decisions work.
I honestly did not want a game that just did what a lot of other games do; satisfy fans. I feel some of the best creative projects (that be in film, gaming, music, etc.) are those which do something new and unique. Naughty Dog have done just that. They made me not want to kill the person that killed one of my favourite video game characters ever. They made me realise how revenge serves no purpose. That revenge is something that feels like it will make things right, however, it does the exact opposite. It destroys people. It destroys Abby and Ellie. More importantly, it destroys the people they love.
Neil Druckmann does an excellent job with the writing. The dialogue feels authentic, and the world in which these characters inhabit feels real and lived in. One criticism I hear a lot is how Abby is an unlikable character. This may be because she is so different to Ellie or maybe because she is somewhat emotionless for a large part of the game. However, I don’t think the pure fact she is unlikable means the writing is poor. She is just different. She takes a while to grow and to realise that she is in fact flawed as a person. She wants to present herself as unbreakable and emotionally tough, whilst deep down, she knows that is not who she is. She has room to love, and Lev is the person who offers her that chance to love.
At the end of the day, The Last of Us has always been a series looking at morals and the choices we make in life. Joel made a bold choice to save Ellie at the end of the first game, even when he knew that would prevent the world from finding a cure. Ellie and Abby make bold choices to avenge the death of those they love. They kill many along the way and that’s because they are inheritably flawed as people. They are blinded by passion and love. This is why I think The Last of Us Part II is a masterpiece. It’s complex, layered, and truly spectacular.
Also, if you haven’t played the game, don’t base your opinions on the game on what others have said. Video games are after all different to every other medium because they require you to be a ‘player’. Immerse yourself in this world. Immerse yourself in this story. I promise you it will be worth your time.