Games

{Game Review} The Last of Us Part 2: Finding Beauty in the Apocalypse

Where We Stand

The Last of Us released back on June 14, 2013 took the world by storm. It was the swan song for the PlayStation 3 and became an instant success over night. The game focused on two people Ellie and Joel. Joel is our protagonist, he is a tough, cold, survivor type. The game opens with us following Joel on what the game refers to as Outbreak Day. The day a cordyceps fungus infects many humans turning them into zombie like creatures. That night, Joel loses his daughter Sarah, and with that loss, Joel becomes a cold and hard survivor. He’s done horrible things and good things, all to keep on living one more day. In the beginning of the game, Joel is tasked with protecting a girl named Ellie. It turns out that Ellie is immune to the cure, and this group called the Fireflies has a base set up and they want to use her to make a cure. The game climaxes with Joel and Ellie seeing each other as family, Ellie becoming a new daughter for Joel. At the end of the game it is revealed that to make a vaccine, they must kill Ellie. Joel finds out about that and ends up killing everyone he comes across, including the doctor who could make the vaccine, because he could not lose Ellie again. The game ends with Joel lying to Ellie, that they had several immune people and could not find a cure. Ellie accepts the lie, but you can tell she does not fully believe Joel.

The Review

The reason for the lengthy plot detail of the first game is to prepare people for the emotional roller coaster that is The Last of Us Part 2. We follow Ellie 5 years after the first game. In the game’s opening, something awful and violent happens that sends Ellie out to Seattle for vengeance. The story and focus for The Last of Us Part 2 could not be any different from the first game. The first game was a story about love and family, set to a road trip that went across the country. The Last of Us Part 2 is darker in contrast, it is meaner; it is more violent, and it’s about hate. The game’s story shows us how hate ultimately consumes the person.

To review The Last of Us Part 2 is challenging. This game has stirred up a lot of controversy with its plot elements and LGBT inclusion. Video games are complicated and making a cinematic style horror action game is its own challenging. The major concern about a video game is about having fun. The first game was dark, but it had lots of moments of levity to ease the tension and on the surface is a brighter story. Gamers liked that, it has emotion, but it also had light heartedness and humor. The first game made me cry twice during the entire game. The sequel: I lost count at how many times I cried. This game is darker, meaner, but it is also very human.

Courtesy of Naughty Dog

I think that is what touched me the most. Every character in this game felt real. Ellie has grown up, but she still has aspects of the smart-ass kid from the first game. She also has a girlfriend now named Dina. There are many other characters in the game like Jesse, one of Ellie’s friends and Dina’s ex-boyfriend. There’s Joel and Tommy, there are new characters too such as Abby, Yara, Lev, and all of Abby’s friends.

One quality that this game requires of its players is that the player needs to be emotionally open and vulnerable to experience and appreciate this game. The story has been a central part of the discussion since this game is very story based. I loved it, because of how human it was. In many ways it’s your classic revenge tale. However, I think it is more than that. The story is very human, and it is also very ugly. But in that humanity, darkness, and ugliness, there is beauty. If you like post-apocalyptic narratives. Both these games are for you. Don’t expect too much happiness, because this world doesn’t mess around.

Game Play

The game is solid. It builds on the first game, it’s partly your standard third-person shooter/stealth affair. As you’re playing as Ellie now, you can jump, crawl, hide in grass. Sneak around and kill enemies. Or engage in shoot outs. Each encounter is a tense experience that had me on the edge of my seat every time. During the game there are three enemies you will face. The WLF (Washington Liberation Front) a para-military organization trying to control Seattle. The Seraphites, a religious cult who believe that humans need to return to nature and leave the modern technology behind. Also, there are the infected zombie like humans who have succumbed to the fungal infection. There are the runners who run at you with high numbers, Clickers, who are blind and see through echolocation, the clickers are very lethal; The Stalkers are like stealthy Runners, Bloaters, people who have been infected so long their body is armored in fungal spores and they throw them like bombs, and this game introduces Shambles, who are similar to bloaters but less intimidating and they emit an acidic gas.

Each encounter in this game, from trying to hide while the WLF uses dogs to track you down, to hearing the Seraphites who communicate through whistling add to the intensity of the game. To add to this tension, the WLF or the Seraphites will yell out each other’s names, including the dogs if you decide to take the animals out.

While there isn’t much variety in the gameplay, each encounter made me sweat. The intensity of these encounters spiked my adrenaline and had me hooked. The environments are also beautiful and full of secrets. This is the best-looking game I’ve played on my PS4. The cut scenes transition seamlessly into the gameplay, everything looks beautiful, character models, expressions, it’s all fantastic. The post-apocalyptic version of Seattle was a wonder to explore. There is a beauty this game can find in the apocalypse.

Overall

The Last of Us Part 2, is a fantastic game if you’re willing to open yourself up emotionally to the story. This is something that requires a lot from the player. If you can open yourself up, let the story unfold, and follow these characters through their trials and tribulations, you’ll find an emotionally moving story and very flawed and human characters. This is the type of game that transcends gaming narratives and expectations. This game is a pure work of art, and if you’re curious at all about this game, play it and let the story inside. Keep your walls down and you will find this game to be an enriching experience.

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