Lies and Forgiveness, A Character Study of The Last of Us Part II *Spoilers

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crunchyflies

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Edited By crunchyflies
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The above image is pulled from one of Ellie’s flashbacks, her birthday. Ominous and haunting, foreshadowing the heartbreaking truth she will inevitably have to learn, this bloody painting of a betrayed Firefly punctuates the happy adventure Joel had just taken her on.

“Liar.”

A word which repeats itself throughout the entirety of The Last of Us Part II. A concept which, I believe, is the purest distillation of a game that exists entirely as a response to its predecessor's famed finale:

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A straight-faced lie told to a scared girl. In The Last of Us, the foundation upon which Ellie is built is that of her immunity. It gives her purpose; and then that purpose is stripped from her and she has nothing left to offer the world. Now, in Part II, we find her trying to build herself upon a new foundation; but that foundation is built on a lie, it’s weak, and it will eventually crumble. And while there are many, many things propelling Part II’s story forward, the inevitability of Ellie discovering the truth lends a sort of nervous energy to the game. Eventually, you think, she will learn what actually happened, and she will begin to question, and perhaps even stop, her bloody crusade for a man who sacrificed the world for her—one little (in her eyes) insignificant girl. Only, that’s not what happens.

She discovered and confronted Joel about the truth years before the game started, and it’s as a flashback, displaced and detached from the visceral violence of the main narrative, that you watch this occur. And then, as if the lie never really mattered, the game thrusts you back to bloody Seattle. Back to the same old violence. To an Ellie who hates Joel, who wants nothing to do with him, and yet, one who seeks revenge. Why, I wondered? Why go through such lengths to avenge a man who not only betrayed her, but destroyed the very world as well? For love, you say, and that’s part of the equation, sure; but then, if love was Ellie’s true motivation, why would she abandon her pregnant girlfriend in order to get to Abby? And why would she later go on to leave her and their infant son alone for revenge?

Dina herself makes these exact points when she tells Ellie, “[Abby] doesn’t get to be more important than us.” She makes these exact points when she asks Ellie to “prove” her love by staying instead of going after Abby.

And yet, despite Ellie’s “love,” she leaves; because love isn’t the reason Ellie does what she does. And until I saw the other flashbacks between Joel and her, I didn’t realize how I’d been asking the wrong questions to begin with; because it isn’t the why of everything that concerns Ellie. She knows why Joel saved her and lied to her; and she knows why Abby tortured and killed him. What she doesn’t know is how.

How could Joel damn the world? How could Joel have lied to her? How could Abby have been so cruel (a question which repeats itself throughout as Dina asks about Tommy's past and all the horrible things he and Joel have done to people)? How can she ever, like Dina, just let it all go? And, most importantly, how could she ever forgive?

It’s in search of those answers that ultimately propels Ellie forward. For yes, there is still the inescapable rage and pain of watching the man she loved die. But when she starts her journey, she understands all the whys; but none of the hows. She is just a kid, after all. She has yet to learn any of them. And if you were to track Ellie’s journey, those are the lessons you would find for a girl whose entire persona was built on a lie. A persona now being dismantled by the truth, a truth doing all of this during a time in her life when she is already, like every teenager, feeling self-conscious and out-of-place and lost. By the beginning of her horrible crusade, all that Ellie knows about herself is the rage and the pain, because, as we find out in her final flashback with Joel, she never got the chance to learn how to forgive and how to let go.

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In what I would call “The Epilogue” of Part II, Ellie finally has Abby near death. She is choking her beneath the waves; and yet, a flash of Joel prompts her to let go. In these brief seconds is encapsulated the exact reason why Part II exists: how Ellie can go from a revenge seeking monster to a penitent human.

Joel.

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In Part II, the first proper scene between the pair of them is one in which Joel promises to finally teach Ellie how to play guitar. How to strum the notes on that instrument and turn off-key, awkward sounds into beautiful music.

He sings for her: "If I ever were to lose you, I'd surely lose myself." A rather obvious message, but Joel isn't a poet. He’s a weary old man—a father—one who has long learned the lessons Ellie hasn't. And though she may hate him for doing what he did, and for having lied to her about it, she is eventually willing to try to forgive him.

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It’s the saddest scene in the entire game, I believe. Paralleled only by Dina helplessly begging for Ellie to stay. Because, coming poignantly at the end, it finally explains the very core of Ellie’s pain: the immense guilt and regret of never getting the chance to try to forgive Joel. She wanted him to be her father again. But Abby took that away from her. And not only that, but she had to watch as this man she loved—this man who had always managed to somehow get back up for her, his daughter—was finally bludgeoned to death in the cold ruins of a dilapidated mansion.

Throughout the game, Ellie is mourning the loss of an unfulfilled promise.

Of the what-if she’d bury in the camp cemetery.

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In writing this article, I remembered how, during key moments in her life, Ellie has had little to no control over what happened to her. Riley’s death. Sam’s death. Tess’s death. Eventually Joel’s death. David and the cannibals kidnapping her in Part I. Her very immunity even took control of and dictated her life. And, most importantly of all, her surgery. She was entirely absent for a very pinnacle moment in her life. Everyone but her had a say as to how things happened. Everyone but her justified her death.

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“If it were [her],” Abby says to her father. But it wasn’t. It was Ellie. And before anyone stops to ask if she is willing to die for the cure, they go ahead and do it.

Or they try to anyway.

Just before the scalpel enters her body, Joel barges in to save Ellie, killing the doctors and killing every chance she has of ever having the option of doing this again.

But what if he hadn’t?

How many innocent people would still be alive if Ellie had cured them?

It’s a question that haunts her.

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It’s when she discovers the truth from Joel that she strives to take her life into her own hands—that she attempts to never again be helpless and without control over her own life. It’s what her “we’re done” really means.

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Joel did more than lie and betray, he took her autonomy away. And now she wants it back. It’s why she set the terms of their conversation before she tells him “we’re done.” "If you lie to me one more time, I’m gone,” she says. “But if you tell me the truth, I'll go back to Jackson." However this conversation ends up going, she controls it. And later, when they’re back at camp, she avoids him or confronts him when he tries to protect her. “I had Seth under control,” she says. She can handle herself. She even tells him to stop controlling Jesse’s raids; because, by extension, Joel is controlling her raids. Ellie is, as with every teenager, seeking to be her own person, and she sees Joel as an obstacle to that.

But for all her want of control, she ends up watching Joel die.

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The propeller for Ellie’s revenge is more than just her rage. It’s more than the fact that her father figure was tortured and murdered. It was that she had to watch him be murdered, helpless, as she has been throughout all of her life. Once again, in the most brutal way possible, with yet another person she cares about, her control was taken from her.

And it’s those relationships, along with new ones she loses throughout Part II, which reinforce her fear of helplessness. Constantly throughout this game, Ellie’s friends try to help her. And they do, but not without her making sure that it is of their own volition. She makes sure that they’re always “good.” That she isn’t inadvertently forcing them to help her or otherwise hurting them in any way. Before accepting Dina’s assistance, for instance, Ellie says she doesn’t want her to feel like she “has” to. It has to be Dina’s choice. But when Ellie learns that Dina is pregnant, it presents a burden on her, because now someone who can’t answer for themselves is a part of this equation: an unborn child.

Ellie can’t be responsible for another person’s death. Nor can she be helpless to watch them die. Even when Abby has her gun pointed at Tommy’s head, or her knife against Dina’s throat, Ellie tries to reason with her:

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Abby, of course, sees the horrible irony in Ellie’s plea; and although Ellie can’t quite see it herself yet, Abby realizes the willful ignorance and blind rage that underscores Ellie’s actions. Ellie may not want to be responsible for her friends’ deaths, but she made them a part of this. She is the reason they are all there to begin with; and she is the reason her whole world will eventually come undone. And like any tantruming child unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions, Ellie, during her final confrontation with Abby, threatens Lev with the same death Abby almost gave Dina:

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This action of manipulating the truth to protect herself is a pattern which repeats a number of times throughout the game. For instance, when Jesse wants to go after Tommy at the Marina instead of Abby at the Aquarium, Ellie tries to convince him the best course of action is doing the latter when she knows it’s really the former. Later, when Ellie is about to leave Dina and her son for another shot at revenge, she tells Dina that it was “up to [her]” if she was there when Ellie returns. As if to say that’d it’d be Dina’s fault, not hers.

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Ellie is fabricating lies in order to justify her behavior, because that behavior is all she has now. It keeps her up at night. It keeps her from eating. The violence and the anger has become a part of her now, filling that void left behind by the immunity that propelled her through the first game. The lies she tells to get her hands around Abby’s neck, rebuild the foundation that Joel wrecked when he told her the truth. She believes she “needs” to go after Abby in order to soothe the pain inside of her.

But it’s not revenge she needs—it’s closure to that unfulfilled promise she made to Joel. And when she finally has her chance at revenge, she lets go. Because now, after everything she’s been through, Ellie understands exactly how Abby could do what she did to Joel, and how Joel could kill everyone in that hospital long ago in order to save her. Compared to someone you love, the rest of the world doesn’t matter; and by the time she has finally gotten her hands around Abby’s neck, Ellie herself has thrown an entire world away—her friends, her family, her lover and her child—and done things that keep her up at night, for just one weary old man who taught her how to play guitar.

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I would be remiss not to mention Abby’s role in Ellie’s journey and the game at large. If Ellie’s story chronicles her understanding of how someone could kill and torture and damn an entire world for the love they feel; Abby’s is in learning how anyone could fight for someone other than themselves. She follows a similar path that Joel does in Part I. She begins having lost her father, and lets the tragedy of that loss control her; but by the end of the game, she is a far more humbled person, filled with humility, dignity, and kindness. It’s a switch that begins with Lev, a boy who presents the same opportunity for Abby that Ellie did for Joel: an opportunity to love again.

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Going back to Abby’s "you wasted it" scene, I don’t think a younger Abby would’ve said what she did and done what she done here. In the heat of the moment, I questioned her. After all, Abby went on the same crusade as Ellie. They are here because of that crusade. And yet, she thinks she can judge Ellie? But then I took a breath, and I saw this:

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Had she been the same girl she’d been at the very beginning of the game, Abby would’ve slit Dina’s throat, hobbled over to a sobbing Ellie and beaten the poor girl to death with the butt end of her blade without hesitation.

Instead, Lev tells her no.

And she walks away.

Even her warning (“Don’t ever let me see you again.”) was feigned:

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It’s only when Ellie threatens Lev’s life—someone Abby loves, someone other than herself, someone kind and pure—that Abby fights. Because, like Joel’s, Abby’s journey is one of pain sutured with love. When Abby says “you wasted [your life]” she does so because now, after what she’s been through, she understands the value of life. A girl before Lev and a girl before Joel, wouldn’t have said that.

There is a very poignant and powerful moment that occurs between Abby and her lover, Owen, that I think captures and sums up not only this point, but the whole story at large:

Abby: Sorry I grew up. You should try it.

Owen: Oh yeah? How do I do that, Abby? Do I find the people who killed my parents? Cut into ’em? I can torture them until they’re crying in their own—

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Owen's damnation of Abby’s actions stresses the game’s coming-of-age storyline. Though Part II is a very “mature” post-apocalyptic fiction, it is, at its core, the story of two girl’s maturation; and to view it as anything else would not only be reductive, but fail to do the narrative justice. For, as with all well-written post-apocalyptic fiction, it is not in the violence and horror that the game concerns itself, but in Ellie and Abby’s self-realization. In the questioning of such violence, and in the understanding of where that blood and gore and rage and pain sits in a person's heart—and in where exactly its place in society is.

The two girls spend the game navigating these waters. For Abby, it comes in the form of her friends questioning and regretting what they did to Joel until, finally, her guilty conscious pushes her to try to wash away the blood on her hands. For Ellie, it’s her struggle to understand how she is supposed to live her life now that Joel is gone and her immunity means nothing.

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“My life would’ve fucking mattered,” she says. It’s a sentiment which haunts not only Ellie, but Abby as well. Because, as soon as Joel pulled his trigger and stole Ellie away, Abby’s father died for nothing. No cure ever was—nor ever would—be made. And now, all Abby has is revenge. And when she gets it, all Ellie is left with is that same vengeance, the very purpose of which is to give some semblance of meaning to a person’s unlawful death. Only, there is no meaning to it all. The vengeance only serves to hurt those you love; not bring justice. Both Ellie and Abby learn the hard way how revenge doesn’t make you a hero, and that their senseless violence only serves to add bodies to a growing and seemingly endless pile of corpses.

Like its characters, the medium in which The Last of Us Part II lives is maturing. It has been for some time, and as video games become more mainstream, more popular, and more varied, they begin to take on the same thematic depth as all other forms of entertainment have. And with that maturity comes not only the exciting possibilities of growth and the pleasure of those more thought provoking narratives, but the unexpected, the surprising, the uncomfortable and the stories that not only challenge our understanding of life, but make us question our beloved characters just as we often question ourselves in real life.

Below is a soft, intimate scene between Dina and Ellie. They dance. And all the boys, Ellie remarks, are looking at Dina. Because, Ellie says, she’s nothing to be jealous about. She’s not a “threat.” But Dina thinks differently: “They should be terrified of you.” Because Dina knows the strength and tenacity inside of a girl who could make the world hers if given the room to grow and the confidence to be herself. She could make beautiful music, if, as Joel says once, “[she] builds up those calluses.” And she does. And she grows. But in so doing lets her rage and her pain take control. And the haunting scene we’re left with in the end, is of her sitting in Dina and her’s now abandoned home trying to strum “If I ever were to lose you” on Joel’s guitar, only to fail because of the fingers she lost trying to choke Abby before finally letting go...

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The Last of Us Part II is not a flawless experience. As beautiful as its characters are, they are trapped in a narrative too long, with messy plotting, and in a game whose mechanics are simply a means-to-an-end. But despite those faults, The Last of Us Part II manages to elucidate not only the nature of humanity, but also how we, as young adults, may build our lives, our personalities, our ideologies and philosophies on lies that, in adulthood, come crumbling down with the questions maturity brings; and how, in the end, it isn’t about what the world wants or needs, it’s about how you, as your own individual person, choose to live inside of it.

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Nodima

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Loved this. So happy to see some deep, thorough, positive conversation about this game after scouring the internet all day for it and finding just a whole ton of snarky, off-hand remarks. Of the reviews I read before the game came out, I found the Polygon, Kotaku and Vice reviews most well-written and thought provoking, but after finishing the game I wonder how much they brought to the game before playing it and forced upon it while playing it. I certainly injected an urgency into the game around 12 hours in by switching it to Very Light from Hard just because I was getting antsy to be able to participate in these conversations.

Anyway, one thing I found myself thinking about as I re-took control of Ellie, or perhaps even more acutely when she became a boss battle to be toppled by mere video game mechanics and not much smarter than any other enemy she'd previously outsmarted, is the irony or sadness that Ellie realizing her chance to be one of the most significantly positive contributors to a post-CORVID-13 (I forget if they ever lent a technical name to the Cordyceps outbreak in TLoU1) society was taken from her unwillingly left her slowly rationalizing that she may as well be the destroyer of all worlds instead. In being relieved of an opportunity to be selfless - even if she was unaware just how selfless that opportunity actually was - she instead becomes entirely selfish. I kind of wish they'd found more ways to express this other than her violence and a few decisions she makes that allow her to express that violence - maybe if they could have somehow inverted the dynamics of Ellie/Dina and Owen/Abby so that Ellie had the more forceful comeon and Owen's was more tender?

Either way, this breakdown helped fully contextualize a lot of what I was considering w/r/t Ellie in those final chapters, and I really appreciate the thoroughness of it!

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Intradictus

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#2  Edited By Intradictus

@crunchyflies: Wrong, this game is trash garbage because they killed the pure, gentle God of men, Joel with a golf club.

Kidding aside, thats a pretty great write up that lines up with a lot of my takeaways from the game. Its not without its flaws, but neither was the first game. I'm already on a second play through to go for the platinum trophy and replaying Ellie's section with full knowledge of Abby's section of the game is honestly making the second playthrough even more enjoyable than my first

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crunchyflies

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#4  Edited By crunchyflies

There is so much more to be written about this game. But in leu of making something that was short and easily digestible, I cut it down to what you just read. Perhaps in the future, when I have time and distance and energy, I'll come back and flesh it out into this much longer dissertation. Or maybe I won't. I could see a scenario where the third game is announced and the discourse around this series starts all over again; but as it stands, a month from now, an article such as this won't be relevant anymore and, thus, pointless to write. So who knows? Plus, to be honest, my motivation for revisiting such a game in a time such as this is low. I'm exhausted just by the thought of its existence; by the reminder of its haunting content amid a world of such strife. So... Yeah. Good story, but right now, I don't ever wanna revisit it.

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Deathstriker

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#5  Edited By Deathstriker

TLAU1's ending is gray, I think people who believe Joel was evil or did a purely evil thing are wrong, just like the people who think he was purely good are wrong, but I've yet to directly see anyone who thought he was some saint. People like Dexter, Tony Soprano, Jamie Lannister, Walter White, and other characters who are way worse than Joel. Liking a character and how heroic/good they are don't have to correlate.

If we were to compare him to some boyscout hero, does anyone really think Superman or Captain America would've been okay killing Ellie for the possiblity of a cure? Cap and the Avengers wouldn't kill Vision when they knew it would save the entire universe. Killing a kid for an experiment isn't some easy or great choice, which is what makes it an interesting situation.

The fireflies knocked out Joel and when he woke up they escorted him out at gunpoint while they were about to open up Ellie, so whether to save her or not was a quick decision. His thought process was "I need to save my babygirl", not "She's mine, she doen't get to have any agency". Obviously the fireflies didn't give her any agency since they didn't give her the right to choose. It's not like Joel could've said "Wake her up and lets all talk about this over a nice cup of tea" lol.

I think it would've been very cool to allow Abby's fate to be up to the player. If making you play her worked and you like her, then you don't drown her. If you think she did too much shit - you can kill her. It's not like she just kills Joel, she kills Jesse, cripples Tommy, bites off Ellie's fingers, and she would've gleefully killed pregnant Dina if Lev didn't stop her. In general I think games need to be more interactive and stop being animated movies with gameplay sections in-between. Affecting the story and not being passive is something only video games can do - movies, TV, and books really can't. That's why Mass Effect is one of my favorite franchises. Infamous always fell a little short, but I respect what they tried to do.

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gornogorno

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@deathstriker: While player choices defiantly can be a powerful, I think allowing Abby's fate to be up to the player would be similar to allowing Ellie’s fate to be up to the player, in the first game. I feel like it would cheapen the story unless they’d reworked a bunch of it

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crunchyflies

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#7  Edited By crunchyflies

@gornogorno: @deathstriker: Games can be many things (go figure), and to, after the fact, go "they should've done this," would be antithetical to the entire purpose of a game's vision. Giving players agency in TLOU Part I and II would completely change the message/theme of the story. Players might not accept Joel's lie at the end of TLOU and while they would've begun Ellie's revenge story, halfway through (probably when Dina says she's pregnant), they would've turned back and therefor not gotten Druckman's point. Simply because a game can give players choice, doesn't mean it should.

To talk about @deathstriker's question of character morality: the reason people don't question Capt. America or Superman's decisions when they choose one girl over the rest of the world is because they usually always end up finding a way of saving both in the end. Joel saves a kid; but damns the planet. You can write entire thesis's around our like of morally grey characters, but in part I think our love of them comes in how unpredictable they are. We watch a Superman movie and we know what he's going to do. We know the issues he's going the grapple with and we know what side he's ultimately going to fall on because those stories trade in black and white narratives. But in something like TLOU or Game of Thrones or what-have-you, we find characters dealing with deeper issues that aren't easily fixed. It's more real. It might even be more "close to home." Which was the point of Joel saving Ellie in TLOU I. This is a FATHER saving his DAUGHTER. A lot of people can relate to that. The wider implications come later, when Joel (and the player to a large extent) catches up to what they're doing and is faced with questions from Marlene and Ellie about their actions. When I mentioned how Ellie didn't have control. I didn't mean that Joel took that from her maliciously. He meant well. Just as most every parent means well when they do something for their child behind their back. But from Ellie's perspective, it's just another example of how powerless, and ultimately meaningless, she finds herself in life.

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crunchyflies

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@nodima: Thanks! Sorry for the late reply. Interesting thought on companion dynamics. Switching them might've been interesting, but ultimately I think Ellie would've done what she done anyway. For instance, throughout the game Dina is this more caring personality trying to be nice to Ellie during a rough time until the very end, when she stands her ground and tells Ellie they're done if Ellie leaves. And yet, Ellie still leaves. Having a more forceful companion wouldn't have dissuaded Ellie of anything. She's stubborn. She has been from the moment you meet her in TLOU. Changing companion dynamics would've only led to different discussions and arguments, but ultimately they would've all followed the same paths.

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Deathstriker

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#9  Edited By Deathstriker

@crunchyflies: You mentioned Ellie's agency a few times, but I think devs are forgetting about player agency. Interact with gameplay but be passive with the story is something I hope we get away from next gen. Player agency makes for a better and more interesting experience. During Witcher 3 I liked Bloody Baron so I went out of my way to save him, while others said screw this guy I hope he dies. I liked Triss and thought Yen was annoying, so I chose the former. This idea that Kojima, Druckmann, or whoever have some brilliant story and we should put the controller down and watch is more movie and TV like than being video games. Games can learn a lot of lessons from those mediums, but too many devs are trying to replicate them. If Naughty Dog are such brilliant storytellers I'm sure they can figure out a branching path or two if they wanted, even the Gears 5 devs did that.

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Pie

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Awesome write up!

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crunchyflies

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ThePanzini

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@deathstriker: The weight and power from Part 2 story comes from the fact that characters make choices you'd don't necessarily like or agree with. If the player has agency of the story beats like Gears 5 future games will have to pick one for cannon rendering the other choice pointless.

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crunchyflies

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@deathstriker: I think we have a philosophical difference of opinion here. Personally, the manner in which a video game tells its story is irrelevant to me so long as it tells it well. You brought up books before as an example of non-interactive storytelling that video games should build off of; I'm curious what you think about choose-your-own-adventure books? In essence, they embody the same level of interactivity that you wish all games storytelling had. Should, then, all books be written to be choose-your-own-adventures?

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csl316

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Turns out there's a lot going on in this story. Glad I didn't just read out-of-context spoilers a few months back.

The way they incorporate the flashbacks in this game is quite brilliant. After each one, you have a new perspective on where their relationship ended.... until the next flashback comes and your understanding of Ellie's current feelings about Joel change again (which subtly changes what you view Ellie's motivation to be).

The fact that the last flashback isn't "hey, we're 100% cool" but instead is the beginning of that emotional journey is a real kicker. Because the resolution to that thread never really comes.

It's weird to see another game in this series end in such an open-ended manner. I would say "we don't need another one" because the last game ended open to interpretation and I was good with it at the time. But this game nail's a ton of stuff and does a great job of justifying the "Part II" in the title, so maybe Naughty Dog still knows what it's doing.

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Deathstriker

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@crunchyflies: Choose your own adventure books are somewhat niche, the main function of books is to read them and imagine them in your head. Video games are the only mainstream medium of entertainment that's built around being interactive. I'm not saying every single video game needs a dozen choices like a Telltale game, but it is more interesting when I get some agency in the story. RDR2 and Gears 5 have some elements of this.

Following an A to B path and telling the story through cutscenes needs to evolve. Hardly any game's story can compete with a great movie or show, so stop trying to be them. Even though I love TLAU1, its story fails in-comparison to Children of Men, Logan, and other similar properties with those themes. Games should embrace their unique aspect, which is interactivity.

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trulyalive

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#16  Edited By trulyalive

Really cool piece.

One of the things I think has been lost in the fetishisation of Joel that we’ve witnessed from a lot of people is that Joel probably wouldn’t have reacted to Ellie’s death the same way that she reacted to his. He’d likely grieve, learn his lessons and move on. As heinous as his actions often were I can’t think of any act of violence he conducted from a place of rage, it was all about survival.

That he would have acted differently is not a knock on this game. If anything it’s exciting that the writing reflects these characters so much and you did a great job of explaining an interpretation of Ellie’s actions, mindset and growth that I think is pretty spot on.

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crunchyflies

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@trulyalive: People getting upset over how Joel dies is an interesting thing to watch happen. There's something to be said/written about how people's expectations of a certain thing can often mar their appreciation of a story. They go into a piece of entertainment (perhaps because it's entertainment) with the expectation that their heroes will be the exact kind of person they idealize or romanticize them as being. And when a writer comes around to "ruin" that vision, the audience gets upset. I think it's because the writer's ultimate goal is to reflect a more realistic or grounded narrative, but because of how entertainment is often written (especially in the mainstream or in this era of high production cost blockbusters) these stories which go against the status quo are often attacked. People have likened TLOU II to The Last Jedi for such a reason. To toss another example out there, I would say it's similar to The Legend of Korra where people got upset over Aang and the original cast not being quite the perfect cast of characters they all envisioned them as being. But I would argue: are you the same person you were when you were twelve years old? People change. People grow. And like Joel said, "I wish things were different, but they ain't." It is what it is.

Also, Joel dying in such an "insignificant" way only plays into the game's overarching themes. Ellie is searching for meaning in life when there really isn't one. You're just supposed to live as best you can until the end. Having Joel die like he did drove that home. Most people don't die in heroic, dramatic ways. Sometimes it just comes. And we're always helpless (some brutally so) to let it happen.

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Shindig

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#18  Edited By Shindig

The player agency thing is something developers can't quite avoid. In some ways, the industry's pushed towards choice and giving the player some err ... agency is in a story. The Last of Us 2 (and the first game) are a roleplay. You're a puppeteer but you can't be an agent of chaos. You can't diverge. This is Ellie and Abby's story, not yours.

Also, dumb decisions aside, Joel knew this was coming. It's interesting to see Abby forge something post-revenge. Partly because it's clear she was busy and the opportunity just presented itself. Scratch that. The opportunity presented itself after a cross country effort to find Joel. Still, it's not scot free or a win for her. She sets Ellie off and she loses all her friends to Ellie's rampage.

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Colonel_Pockets

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#19  Edited By Colonel_Pockets

Just wanted to say, this was really well written and I 100% agree with you! There's so many layers to this game. It was stunning.

The way it's able to use the flashbacks to add texture to the plot all the way to the final scene is something I have never seen in a game. I will be thinking about this one for a long time.

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