The Last of Us is a pretty good game. I’m not as madly in love with it as the rest of the world seemingly is, but I did enjoy my time playing it. In particular, the parts where you control Ellie really captured the magic of what Naughty Dog was going for all along.
As Joel is dispatching one last enemy at the school, the ledge he’s leaning against breaks and he falls right onto a metal rod, which impales him through the stomach. At this point, Ellie does everything in her power to get Joel out alive, as he’s seemingly on the brink of death. After hours of Joel forcing Ellie into the background and reluctantly acknowledging her help, she really shines in the position of power, guiding him to presumed safety.
Flash forward to the winter, and she’s alone in the woods. You’re now in control of Ellie. I immediately asked myself, “Did they really kill off Joel like that?!” While a part of me didn’t hope that was the case, I would have been excited to see where the game would have gone had they done just that. Through the ensuing deer hunting scene, it further cements Ellie coming of age and becoming strong enough to sustain on her own.
At this point, she runs into David and one of his cohorts, as they negotiate over the deer she’d just killed. She says she’ll trade for any antibiotics they have, which is the first indication we get that Joel is in fact, alive. Though they build a bit of a trust for each other – especially after the zombie attack – things quickly go sideways when David reveals that she and Joel were the ones that killed many members of his group. He gives her the opportunity to join, but bails once she gets the medicine.
The entire David saga within The Last of Us is fascinating. On one hand, you’re now playing as Ellie, who is devoid of all the abilities that Joel had gained throughout. On the other side is David, who seems rational at first, but turns out to be a really creepy dude who wants a more ‘intimate’ relationship with her. While the odds are definitely in his favour, you as Ellie have a lot to fight for, which makes all of her action sequences so thrilling. It’s also awesome to play as the unlikely kid craftily taking out an army.
In particular, the final confrontation with David in the burning restaurant stands out. You’re facing off against him in a messed up game of cat and mouse, and despite your best efforts, you eventually get pinned down. Though it’s not explicitly stated, it’s heavily implied that he’s going to try and rape her at this point. With enough squirming, Ellie grabs a machete and minces David’s head into mush as she’s overcome with emotion from his advances. Joel pulls her away, but the damage is done. She begins to cry and break down as she comes to grips with what just happened.
If the rest of the game had executed to the level that the Ellie sequences achieves, I’d be hailing this as a front-runner for game of the year. It’s a shame that it doesn’t, but her portions are still one of the most thrilling, exciting and emotionally draining sequences I’ve played in recent memory.
Full review coming soon!