Review: ‘Last of Us’ hype continues
Keep in mind, this is a very dark game that deals with heavy subject matter such as trauma, violence, and revenge, so viewer discretion is advised.
Much like with my review of the first game, I decided to give The Last of Us Part II a review as well, since The HBO adaptation of The Last of Us is still moving through its first season.
Since you, my dear readers, have most likely seen the title and have wondered…why did The Last of Us Part II break your heart? Are you some kind of tenderhearted sap who can’t distinguish reality from fiction? Well the former part is true, I am an unapologetically soft hearted but as for the second part I am able to distinguish reality from fiction, and I understand that at the end of the day, this is fiction. But this game broke my heart because Neil Druckmann took something that was beautiful, and ruthlessly destroyed it before our very eyes.
Do I mean to say that this game is bad? Absolutely not. I really liked the new and much darker direction that Neil Druckmann and the crew at Naughty Dog took with this game, and I like that they punish their heroes without it coming off as mere torture porn. I find that this is a very misunderstood game, and I also find that this game is flawed in ways that took me some time to fully process.
There are still things to enjoy from this game, such as the dichotomy of Abby and Joel’s journeys as characters, the voice acting from veterans such as Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, and Johnson’s fellow Critical Role member Laura Bailey is strong throughout the duration of the game, Ellie’s journey throughout the story, and the utter deconstruction of the idea of the revenge story. But there are certainly things that make this game disappointing for some people, which I’ll get into below.
This game deals with a lot of themes, such as the consequences of selfishness, regret, and ultimately what I find the game to be about: the destructive nature of hatred. If The Last of Us is about the power of love, then The Last of Us Part II is about how hatred can blind us to the destruction that it causes to the people we love. The atmosphere of the second game has a mixture of melancholy and a sense of longing for better times. We find out as the game moves along that Ellie’s lust for revenge is really a coping mechanism for her own guilt and regret.
For a game that explores the old story of revenge, ultimately The Last of Us Part II is a story about the clash between vengeance and forgiveness. While Ellie may want to take revenge on Abby for the unforgivable pain that she inflicted upon her, what she truly needs is to forgive Abby, and Joel, and herself for their actions in the past, and it’s that struggle that kept The Last of Us Part II engaging for me.
If love redeems and can make us our best selves, then hatred destroys and often brings out the worst in us. Ellie’s quest for revenge and her inability to let go of her past pain is eventually what does her in by the end of the game. I suppose that’s what really bothered me about this game as opposed to the previous one, it was such a bleak and sad ending that it soured me from it, and gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I understand that what probably drove people away from the story is the unfairness of it all, and a lot of the fans weren’t able to cope with it.