These are my thoughts and opinions on The Last of Us Part II. This is coming from someone who has only seen Felix’s playthrough (and soon Jack's!), which means I'll just talk about the story and not the gameplay (looked fun though!). (Major Spoilers ahead!)
A bit of context: I've been obsessed with this game for the past 3 days; I've spent pretty much all my time watching videos related to The Last of Us. I haven't been productive, and I haven't been keeping up with journal entries and logs. I guess you could say I've been obsessed with it for the past week or so since that's when I first started watching it. However, it wasn't to the point where I basically stopped practicing.
Though I haven't been practicing, I've been heavily thinking about this game because it's really a lot to process. The game takes around 25 hours to complete. It's almost twice as long as the first!
While 25 hours isn't particularly long, the experience felt like a grueling slog by the second half. You see, the game isn't exactly fun. In fact, it's miserable. Naughty Dog themselves said that they focus on engagement rather than fun. So, is The Last of Us Part II engaging? Yes and no.
As I said, the second half felt grueling. For the first half, though, I was thoroughly invested. Even though Joel was killed in an extremely painful, heartbreaking, and frustrating way, I was onboard with Ellie's revenge journey. Not that I agreed with what she was doing. It's just like in the first game when Joel decided to save Ellie and turn his back on humanity. I understood why these characters made such decisions because I knew what they'd gone through. I also loved the flashback sequences between her and Joel (probably the best parts of the game).
The thing is, by the time the second half rolled around, and Abby was the one who we had to play as. It was already too late. Around 12 hours had gone by where in the player's mind (or viewer's in my case), Abby was someone to hate because of what she'd done. She was very hard to empathize with, so I could really only pity her/acknowledge her suffering. But I never really cared that much.
The problem is, her part abruptly stops what seems like the the climax, so all this adrenaline we're experiencing just goes to waste, and we have to deal with controlling the one person we hate for another 12 hours.
After Abby's part comes the ending—or so it seems. Ellie and Tommy both make very bizarre choices. Not that they wouldn't do them per se. It's just that in Tommy's case, it seemed kind of out of character, and in Ellie's, it felt like she hadn't learned her lesson after everything. Ellie did seem to have severe PTSD, so I guess it made sense for her to do that.
The climax at the end where she stops herself from killing Abby because she remembered a memory with Joel seemed cheesy at first. But when it was revealed that the memory that Ellie remembered during her fight with Abby was her last conversation with Joel. That got me.
There were two other points in the game that also just got me. The first was Joel's shock death, and the second was Joel telling Ellie the truth. Joel finally telling Ellie what happened at the Firefly Hospital is just so heartbreaking because that's when they really started becoming distant.
The true tragedy of The Last of Us is that neither Joel nor Ellie told each other how they felt about one another. Their last conversation was the starting point of Ellie forgiving Joel, and both restoring their relationship. Unfortunately, that never got to happen.
The thing that bugs me about The Last of Us Part II is that the elements of a good story are there. It's just that the way the events of the story are presented are frustrating. If certain parts were arranged differently and shortened, the game would be so much better. If Abby's part came before Ellie's or at the same time as Ellie's then we could of built that empathy for Abby... If Joel wasn't killed off so early and in such a vile way, his death would've provided more than just shock value...
Most of what I've talked about are the criticisms I have with the story of the game, but I would also like to talk about what makes the game shine. These are the graphics, sound, acting, and even though I haven't played, the gameplay. The Last of Us Part II is if not the best, one of the best visually looking games out there right now. It's environments are just stunning to look at; really pushing the hardware of the PS4 to its limits. The sound completes and makes the environments come to life. A good example would be the clickers. They sounded horrifying enough in the first game, but in this one, they somehow sound even more disturbed and pitiful. The acting in this game is phenomenal. Props once again to Ashley Johnson as Ellie. I really felt her pain. And even though I haven't played the game yet, the gameplay must feel awesome. It's a combination of the visuals & sound, level design, new features, and the endless ways one can play the game.
Everyone at Naughty Dog deserves praise. That means the designers, programmers, artists, voice actors, etc. who worked their asses off to create something they felt extremely proud about. I've heard about the crunch culture at Naughty Dog, and that should be stopped, but that doesn't mean it's okay to dismiss or hate all those who worked tirelessly to create a final product that showcases all their effort and talent to the max of their ability.
Most people say that the theme of the game is revenge. For me, that's only half of what it is. The other half is forgiveness. Ellie goes into her journey seeking revenge for Joel, but by the end, she realizes seeking revenge got her no where. In fact, it only made things worse; The cycle of violence continued. That's why she decided to forgive Abby—so she can end the cycle once and for all. Taking revenge and killing Abby would've made Lev just continue the cycle. Remembering her talk with Joel on the porch finally made Ellie forgive him. And although Ellie is redeemed, the consequences of her actions still remain. When she eventually returned to the farm, she found it abandoned. She tried playing guitar, but couldn't anymore. Leaving Joel's guitar by the window was her way of moving forward after everything.
I'm glad Naughty Dog decided to do something different for a sequel. It shows they're not afraid of taking risks. It's also gotten people really debating and discussing certain aspects of the game which I love.
At first, I didn't like the game, and I would've given it a 5.5/10. However, after contemplating about it for a long time. I'm quite content with the game, and I would now give it an 8/10.
P.S. — Wow. Just watched this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ-Ly__HBJg. It almost perfectly encapsulates my thoughts on this. I should sleep...
The game is really good. Abby is built like a body builder... Is that ever explained?
@JustMegawatt Nope haha. Did you play it?
@Quarter I just saw someone on YouTube playing it, haven't played it myself :)
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