Right from the start I want to get this out of the way.
I loved this game. It was more than Good but due to the restrictions I put on myself when I created GoodBadEh, I can only put it in one of those three categories, so it would be in the ‘Good’ category.
It was visually stunning. The gameplay was pretty similar to that of the first and that was perfectly fine with me. There isn’t much room to add new types of gameplay when you have to scavenge for everything you find. There were certain things that I wasn’t a fan of that I’ll get into later on, but for everything else I experienced, this game was incredible and the fact that I still have so many thoughts about this game and how I feel about it makes it so much more special.
Now that the grade part is out of the way, I will go into detail about certain aspects of the game that made me think, made me frustrated, and at some point made me doubt if I really liked the game that much.
I labelled this as a Thoughts piece because I don’t want to go into what the entire story line is and do a deep dive into that, I’d very much prefer to tell you what I thought of the game which includes MAJOR SPOILERS (obviously).
So let’s get into it…
THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING
Leading into this game, I was aware that some of the game was leaked and bad people on the internet were spreading them to try and ruin this experience for the players who have been wanting to play this story for themselves.
Luckily for me, I was able to avoid the spoilers. Now that I have completed the game, I went back to see what the spoilers were and the main one that stuck out to me that was actually true is about Joel’s death.
Joel dying did in fact happen, and to be honest, I figured it would happen at some point during the game since the first gameplay we saw from TLOU was of Ellie.
The relationship between Joel and Ellie was significant in the first game. Joel was someone who had lost his daughter when this whole ordeal happened, now he was basically a survivalist and a lone wolf along with his brother. Having to escort Ellie to the Fireflies was a big task and definitely one that he did not want to follow through with.
Over the course of that story, they develop that father/daughter relationship which ultimately ends up with Joel not wanting to see her sacrifice herself to make a vaccine for the illness, and lying to her saying that she wasn’t the only immune person.
With their relationship at a messy point in the beginning of the game, we learn through flashbacks of how she found out about his decision to save her, as well as other experiences they shared together in the 4 year gap between the two games.
Ellie seeing Joel die right in front of her eyes set this game on the path of revenge. Ellie was not going to let Abby (and her friends) get away with this.
I read people on Twitter and Reddit mention how Part One Joel wouldn’t have tried to save Abby. When looking back at Joel in the first game, I definitely agree with that, but 4 years is a long time in this world. He wasn’t a lone wolf anymore. He lived in this community with other people that he had relationships with. He easily could’ve lightened up a little bit and maybe his rough relationship with Ellie made him want to change a little.
One flashback that stands out to how he has changed because of Ellie was when he took her to the museum for her birthday. That entire flashback was one big example of how much he cares about her. Knowing that she wanted to be an astronaut, he put her inside a spacecraft, along with a helmet, and a tape with a launch countdown on it to make it feel like a real launch.
As they were walking to the museum, having him push her in the water, and later on her doing the same thing, they have that playful father/daughter relationship that shows that he is such a different person compared to the Joel we left once TLOU 1 ended.
Joel in the end said that if he was given the chance to relive his decision at the end of the first game, he would do it all over again shows that Ellie changed him. Maybe not for the better in terms of him being a Clicker Killer, but having that human side to him that some might lose in the times they were living in.
As mentioned above, Ellie’s story is one of Revenge. Her main goal for the story is to track down Abby, as well as her friends along the way, and make her pay for Joel’s death.
Her wanting revenge makes sense. Joel was a father figure to her and one of the very few people she had a close relationship with even though it was messy.
Since we last saw Ellie, she has gotten even more badass and can definitely handle herself in the tough situations she is a part of during the game. While she has gotten more badass, she also found a relationship with Dina, who is revealed to be pregnant later on in the story. We saw that relationship go through its motions throughout the game since Dina went along on the journey with Ellie.
Her journey takes place over the course of three days in Seattle. The first day was a little rough, not going to lie. You have a map of Seattle and it goes open world for just a little bit. Going on horseback to go through this little section of Seattle was kind of annoying. I’m not a fan of open world games and even in this section, I just would’ve preferred a quick generator puzzle (like the ones we would have to solve later on) instead of taking an hour or two to find out the direction I was supposed to go in.
One of the gems during this open world part, was when Dina and Ellie find themselves in a music shop. Over the years, Ellie has been learning guitar. She stumbles across one in the music shop and she sits down to play it.
This brings me to one of my favorite parts of the game. The guitar playing was so much fun. Using the analog stick to highlight different notes and then using the touchpad to strum the strings was so much fun. I could’ve done that for so much longer than they had me doing it. That guitar playing aspect would come up a few more times over the course of the game but this moment was one of my favorites because she performs an acoustic version of ‘Take on Me’ by Aha. It was a great rendition and it was one of those cut scenes where you can put down the controller, lean back, and just enjoy the show. I loved that moment and it was the only moment where I was able to relax during a mellow cut scene.
Ellie is a very stubborn character. She won’t let anyone stop her from doing what she has to do, and is very willing to do things on her own without having any backup. Along the way she does get help, whether it is from Dina or from her fellow patrol friend Jesse. She will often have missions with them, but for the most part she is a lone wolf.
As she takes down Abby’s friends, she feels herself getting closer and closer to finally getting to take down Abby. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to finally track her down while Abby is in her prime because at the end of Seattle Day 3, she heads back to the theater to find that Abby is there with Jesse dead on the ground and a gun towards Tommy’s head.
This is where I have a gripe with this game.
Instead of settling the feud between the two right then and there in the theater, the game gives us a HUGE shake up and has us play through the same three Seattle days but this time you play as Abby. AT THE TIME, I did not like this decision. This was probably 10-12 hours into the game and I was ready for the final showdown or maybe another mission to kill Abby and finish the game.
When I saw the title screen say ‘Seattle Day 1’ and I was playing as Abby. I was annoyed because it took a long amount of time to get through those days as Ellie, and since this is more of a linear story game, I was not expecting it to be 20 hours long. But playing as Abby did add some background to her as a character and to some other aspects of the game as well.
When we start playing as Abby, we get some background on who she is and how she got to where she is now.
I believe the first flashback we get with her is her tracking her dad down in a forest. They both end up finding a zebra trapped in some wire. We are introduced to Owen as a possible love interest and we find out that her father is the doctor in the Fireflies hospital* . They save the zebra, which looked so dang cool (minus it being bloody from the wire), and the flashback is pretty much over at that point.
It was another flashback that really sets the tone for Abby’s motives. It is her running through the Firefly hospital into the room where Ellie was supposed to get operated on. She runs in to find that her father was killed by Joel.
This, of course, angered her and set her on the course of trying to track down Joel and make him pay for what he did.
As she is being swarmed by Infected, Joel and Tommy save her. I said it earlier in Joel’s section,he is a changed man in terms of how big his heart is, so saving her, while risky, was something he ultimately felt good doing. It just sucked that him saving her, helped Abby obviously track down Joel and eventually get the both of them to go to her camp where they are tied up. This is where she grabs a golf club and goes to town on Joel. When members of her camp attempt to kill Ellie as well, she stops them.
This part I was a little confused by, especially because Ellie tells her that she is going to hunt her down. Could’ve saved another 16 hours of the story just by killing her. There was something inside of Abby that made her let Ellie live. I really don’t know what that reason is. Maybe because she really didn’t have anything against Ellie besides her relationship to Joel. Maybe she didn’t think Ellie was that much of a threat compared to Abby who is apart of a well organized faction (Wolves or WLF). It is never really discussed but we carry on.
As we go through the three Seattle days playing as Abby, we get to see just how organized the WLF is in terms of where they are settled, all the assets they have, and how they go about maintaining an order throughout their community that is led by the character Isaac. Isaac is the leader of the WLF and he appears every now and then. Not much to say about him besides the fact that he does hide things from his community and he does not play any games. He is hiding the fact that Owen has been missing and will not allow Abby to go out and find him. Abby sneaks out to find Owen without permission. Abby eventually finds Owen who has taken shelter inside the Aquarium (zoo but for fish).
As we play as Abby, we explore the areas of Seattle that the WLF have cleared out. The days feel just as long as they were when you played as Ellie. I figured that you would just go through the days learning about your close friends dying and then eventually find Ellie and have a final face off against her. What we ended up getting was a deeper look into the Seraphites, which is a more distant faction that resembles a cult. It is with the Seraphites, or Scars, that we are introduced to Yara and Lev. Them two originally save Abby after she was captured by the Scars.
Lev was on the run from the Scar’s due to his shaven head not being welcomed by the faction. They are now rogue, along with Abby.
The three of them continue their adventure together battling not only against the WLF since Abby went AWOL, but against the Scars as well since they have pretty much disowned Lev as a part of the faction. The three of them eventually get captured and Yara’s arm gets smashed in. It is up to Abby and Lev to find their way to the hospital to get the right supplies. It just so happens that the hospital is one of the safe zones for the WLF. It is at the hospital that it is revealed that Abby went AWOL, and Isaac wants to see her. She is tied up but is released by her friend Nora.
Abby retrieves the medicine and brings Lev and Yara back to the Aquarium where Mel (WLF nurse) is able to amputate Yara’s arm. After Yara is resting up from the surgery, we discover that Lev has taken a boat back to the Seraphite Island to go talk to his mother and see if she has disowned him because of his decision. Abby and Yara are now on pursuit to find Lev. It just so happens that the same night that this is taking place, the WLF is planning on attacking the Seraphite Island. When they arrive on the island, they discover that Lev killed his mother. Abby and Lev escape the island and head back to the Aquarium to find Owen and Mel dead, along with Ellie’s map of Seattle that reveals where she is hiding out.
This leads us to Abby sneaking into the theater leading up to the moment where she kills Jesse and has a gun against Tommy’s head.
While I feel that Abby’s section of the game was super long, it gave us a deeper look more into the Seraphites than into Abby herself and while I liked getting more detail into this weird faction, I felt this could’ve been an expansion more like Left Behind. But in this one, you could play as Lev as he runs away from the faction.
The Seraphites are super cool though! They have their own ways around Seattle which consists of bridges and elevators high up in the sky. There is one moment where Lev is leading Abby through one of their bases high up in the sky and it REALLY tested my fear of heights. This game WENT IN on that fear of mine and it was terrifying. One of the coolest and scariest moments in the game for sure.
While playing as Abby, I tended to like her more once she ran away from the WLF and developed her relationships with Yara and Lev. They formed their own little group and stuck by each others sides even though their former groups were fighting against each other.
Final Couple of Hours
Right when Abby’s story matches up with the last time we left Ellie, we have a fight between the two in the back part of the stage inside of the theater. We play as Abby trying to sneak up on Ellie and take her down. Towards the end of the fight, they are both pretty beaten up, Abby gets up and tells Ellie to never show her face near her again.
We then fast forward to Ellie, Dina and her baby living on a quiet farm. Herding sheep and having a good time is what their life is. Ellie goes out to herd the sheep back into the barn, and she discovers a sheep in the very back of the barn. As the sheep runs from the back, a tool in the barn falls on the ground and it gives Ellie PTSD about Joel’s death and makes her relive that moment and not being able to save him.
Tommy arrives one day telling Ellie that he has a lead on where Abby has taken shelter just in case Ellie wants to finally get her revenge. Dina tells Tommy that they left that life behind them and Ellie agrees. Ellie eventually starts packing in the middle of the night which upsets Dina since they have this life together and all is well. Turns out it isn’t because Ellie isn’t able to sleep or eat because of Abby still being alive. Ellie eventually leaves to head to Santa Barbara to track down Abby.
To sum up this extended part: Abby and Lev are searching for the Fireflies rebooted location since Owen thought they were going to make a comeback. They find a radio and get a new location to go to where they will be safe. As they leave, they get captured by this Guy Fieri motorcycle looking dude. We then play as Ellie in Santa Barbara. She runs into the Guy Fieri dude after she was caught in a trap. She kills him after he reveals Abby’s location. Ellie goes there to find out she is locked up. She kills a bunch of people, releases the prisoners to find out Abby is on a post at the beach. She goes to the beach, lets Abby down. Abby carries Lev to the beach so they can escape. Ellie originally lets her go but after giving it a second thought, she decides she needs to fight her and threatens to kill Lev if Abby doesn’t fight her. They are both very, very broken at this point and the fight is not pretty intense even though Ellie has the upperhand for most of the fight. Ellie is about to kill Abby when she gets another flashback of Joel smiling which makes her stop suffocating her. They go off in the boat and we see Ellie sitting in the water alone but this time with two less fingers since Abby bit them off. We then see Ellie walking back into her farm home that has now been abandoned. She is unable to play the guitar since she has 8 fingers now and we see her walk into the distance with her guitar in focus. Game Over.
Thoughts on this part
I didn’t want Ellie to go get revenge on Abby. She was finally living a quiet life with her family. Yeah she was getting those intense flashbacks, but would killing Abby actually give her any sort of relief? It doesn’t bring Joel back and she is risking her new family because of it. I disagreed with the games decision to have Ellie leave the farm. But the end result of her having nothing made it worth it. I wanted Ellie to be punished for doing something like that. She now has nothing and is alone all because she wanted to kill this girl who she didn’t even end up killing. She left a nice life and didn’t get anything in return. Ellie deserved this ending.
But did The Last of Us deserve to have a happy ending? This game, both parts 1 and 2, were very dark but did have moments of light. It would’ve been nice to see it end on a lighter note, but that didn’t happen and I had to deal with that for the last hour or so of the game.
Random Moments that I Enjoyed
- Joel’s Jurassic Park 2 jokes when they were in the museum.
- The multiple instances to various PlayStation properties. The original ‘fat’ PlayStation 3 accompanied by Uncharted 2 game cases. A WLF member playing a Vita, finding the VHS porn tape titled ‘Smash Brandi’s Cootch’ was iconic for me.
- The boss fights were INSANE. I was legitimately scared during the fights with the larger clickers. I am not a fan of horror games but the boss fight in the hospital when you are playing as Abby actually had me screaming. Terrifying stuff.
- Riding through the burning Seraphite Island as Abby on horseback was visually stunning and such a rush. The fight at the end against a large man with an axe before you get on a boat was so much fun. He got A LOT of good swings on me and it was a great choreographed fight.
- At some point in the final hours of the game we hear Ellie whistle and that made me so happy because in the first game we hear Ellie trying to learn how to whistle, so I’m glad that she was finally able to learn that talent.
- The bigger fight scenes were all incredible. Whether it was against clickers or the fight scenes between Ellie and Abby, they were both amazing to watch and looked gorgeous!
Is this game a “Masterpiece?”
The Last of Us Part 2 had me with A LOT of thoughts (if you couldn’t tell). This is the first time in a long time that a game took up this much head space after I completed it.
Usually I am the type of gamer to play games, enjoy them and not really want to think much about them but this game was something else. I kept calling it an experience because it was. The story building and character backstories had me feeling for these characters. Even Abby who was painted as the villain earlier in the game, I ended up feeling for her once she established a relationship with Yara and Lev.
I never felt Joel was the villain. What he did at the end of Part 1 is what, I think, most people would do. It goes up with the decision of saving one person you care about while killing a mass amount of people, or sacrificing that life so you can save multiple.
This is probably one of the first games where I disagreed with some of the story choices, and while they ended up bringing me exciting gameplay, I would’ve preferred to not have that gameplay but have the story that I wanted. TLOU 2 pushed the limit to give us a game that we can have discussions about, to have us have different opinions and to make us feel these stronger emotions that some games don’t deliver.
Video Games are my favorite type of entertainment because I’m able to go on 20 hour adventures and be able to feel excitement, fear, disappointment and so many more emotions. While I didn’t want The Last of Us to have a sequel, I am glad that this story was created because it gave us a deeper look into the characters we loved from the first one and gave us a new perspective from a brand new character that we ended up feeling things for. Whether you are happy with the decisions that Naughty Dog took with this story or not, this game is special for making people have such strong reactions to it.
If you read through this entire thing. Thank you. It ended up being more of a review than I wanted it to be but I feel that this is a game that people will have discussions about and boy did I have a lot of thoughts about it.
If you played The Last of Us Part 2, I hope that you will share your opinions in the comments or on Twitter tagging me (@GoodBadEh). I would love to have further discussions about this game whether you agree with me or not.