Thoughts on The Last of Us Part II
Naughty Dog’s PlayStation 3 swansong, The Last of Us, is one of my favorite games of all time. Naturally, I was incredibly hype when the sequel was announced in 2016. I wasn’t surprised that the series was getting the sequel treatment, as the first game in the series sold incredibly well and received universally high praise from fans and critics. However, I wondered how they would manage to pull it off, as the ending of the first game was beautifully ambiguous; a small part of me didn’t even want a sequel for fear of this beloved game’s legacy being ruined. After the infamous leaks came out in late April - peak quarantine time - one of the story’s major plot points was spoiled for me when I merely opened Twitter and saw the timeline. It was a screenshot, and from that one screenshot, I knew the fate of a character. However, I still didn’t think the game was going to be bad, but I was very angry that I now knew this pivotal plot point so I couldn’t go in blind when release day finally came. I had even avoided watching all the trailers leading up to release because I didn’t want to know anything about the story. Then, the DMCA false copyright strikes happened, where YouTube content creators were receiving copyright strikes on their channels (three strikes and your channel is deleted) for simply talking about the leaks - not about the content contained in them.
News channels simply reporting that the leaks happened were being threatened with copyright strikes. This was not and is not okay. For many, YouTube is their livelihood, and they should be able to simply report news without fearing that their channel will be deleted. This put a really bad taste in my mouth.
After the whole mess with the leaks, my hype for the game was slowly dwindling. I was just tired of it all. I knew the game was going to be incredibly dark, which is normally not an issue for me, but this game came out in the middle of a global pandemic; people, myself included, were already feeling incredibly sad, drained, and anxious. I wasn’t sure if I could really handle this type of game in the midst of all that, but my husband went and picked it up for me because he knew I was going to like it. He watched the ending of the game online and knew I’d like it, despite me thinking that the leak that I saw on Twitter would taint my experience. Jimmy, thank you.
It has been several weeks since I touched the game. It took me three straight days of playing it for eight hours a day to reach the credits, and I had so many emotions upon completion. I could not stop thinking about it, and I still can’t. I’m still not sure I’d say I enjoyed my experience with the game, but that’s the point. I respect Naughty Dog for making such a bold choice with this story; I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing as I was playing it. I couldn’t believe that some executive at Sony allowed this game to see the light of day. That doesn’t mean I think it’s bad; quite the contrary. But this game is not fan service - not in the slightest. This is not the story that fans felt they were entitled to, and I think that’s an important thing to point out.
We, as gamers, sometimes feel so personally and emotionally invested in games that we feel like the actual creators of the game owe us something, when in reality, we are just consumers of the product they are selling. Again, that’s why I respect Sony and Naughty Dog for telling this story that many fans didn’t want to experience.
The Last of Us Part II is gruesome. It’s dark, it’s violent, and it’s not “fun.” For me personally, the gameplay is really satisfying and enjoyable, but as a whole, I did not have fun playing the game. To me, this proves that a video game doesn’t have to be fun to be a worthwhile experience.
If you somehow haven’t been spoiled yet and have any interest in playing this game, I implore you to experience it for yourself. Everyone’s experience is going to be different; some fans like to pretend it doesn’t exist, and others think it’s a great followup to the original. Now that I’ve had plenty of time to process, I can confidently say that The Last of Us Part II is a great game. Do I like it more than the original? Absolutely not - but I never expected to.
This is just my opinion, and I know people have very different thoughts and opinions surrounding this game. As long as you remain respectful, I would love to chat about it. Follow me on Instagram: @gottosaurus.