There are very few moments in my life where I have felt as raw, as emotionally scrambled, as when playing The Last Of Us. It's not perfect, or flawless, but it will forever hold intrinsic value as a book-end to this generation. When the eyes of the world are on the future, of technical demonstrations and hardware dick-swinging, Naughty Dog vindicates the argument, once again, that substance will always triumph over style, that what one feels is more important than what one sees.
"Exposition sucks, right?" says Bruce Straley in a post-mortem with EDGE magazine, and The Last Of Us proves him right. There's teasing, implication and suggestion generating a vibrancy that leaves an ironically empty universe colourful and thoroughly inhabited - past tense, however. A lot of bad shit happened in those 20 years. You aren't told what those things were, but you can see it in the blood on the walls, the echoes of gunshots, and the lines on Joel's face. It is in this that The Last Of Us bears it's humanity, and the value of the writer as a profession is again made prominent. For an industry so full of artistic, creative, brilliant minds, the lack of imagination, of variation, remains startling - The Last Of Us a welcome exception.
The ending of the game will always be the subject of much contention, and I'm happy that it should be so; the problems are a direct consequence of the lack of choice. Throughout the game the ethical responsibility of the player was rarely called into question; you had to survive, and it was often fairly straightforward figuring out who the bad guys were.
(They were the one's trying to kill you.)
But the ending was the only real point in the game where any empathy the players might have felt, was stretched. Suddenly you realise "I'm not Joel, and I'm not Ellie, and this isn't my decision to make." and that was actually liberating, that these characters could retain that independence. But some people aren't happy with that - and I sympathise that the sudden detachment may be considered jarring. Not for me.
When I think about the ending of the game, I think about what I would have done if it was my decision. And I think about Sam, and Henry. And I get it.
Thanks for reading.