Writing about games and expressing my thoughts on them is something I've wanted to do for awhile. I'm going to use this and a blog I made to improve my writing and share my opinions on games I'm playing. Please be nice. I loved The Last of Us and cherished my time with it, I really don't want to start any negative arguments and tried not to make any inflammitory statements in my post. Hope you enjoy! Constructive, nice criticism is very welcome.
The Last of Us is a game that has stuck with me for quite some time after beating it. As all know it is a bleak look at a post-apocalyptic future that doesn't hold back the horrors of what life would be like in this situation. It treats the characters of Joel and Ellie with a respect that most videogames don't offer its lead characters and is a completely honest and unflinching game unlike anything I have ever played. I fell in love with Joel and Ellie, their emotions, their plight became my emotions and my plight. I have never felt so connected and in turn related so much to characters in a game. It's not that I’ve ever been close to being in such a traumatic situation as theirs but that I could relate in a human way to the pain and emotions they were feeling. The characters and story spoke to very real fears that I and many other human beings have. Fears like isolation, hopelessness and most of all the fear of death. All of these reasons are why I am so bothered by the fact that I felt I cheated my self out of the game side of the experience. I played the game on medium about half way through brought it down to easy and very shortly after that turned on lock on aiming. My need and want to see the next story moment aggressively beat out my desire to have a satisfying gameplay experience.
It's not that I didn't enjoy the combat, in many ways it was satisfying when I felt like I was in control of the situation. I had my gripes with it, the one hit kills from clickers were frustrating. I'm not particularly fond of stealth and the fact that it was front loaded so much in the first half of the game didn't help. But once I got more weapons and projectiles the combat opened up in a much more appealing way. Sure it still wasn't my favorite thing about the game but it wasn't bad. On the other hand though having my progress stopped in that game by having to repeatedly retry sections completely killed the momentum I was feeling on the story side.
I'm super jealous of all the stories I heard of people playing the entire game on hard. Having to use all your senses to survive, methodically plotting your way through enemy encounters. Using stealth and cunning to get the upper hand. It sounds super awesome and I did absolutely none of it. I was sloppy in the way I feel like I am in all games that involve stealth. More so than any pride associated with playing the game on an elevated difficulty, I feel guilty that I played the game on easy because I feel like the game on hard is the most mechanically analogous to the actual situation of trying to stay alive. At a certain point though I stopped having fun replaying sections, dieing in the game brought everything to a screeching halt. I wasn't playing the game for the pure fun of playing the game but rather to see the story continue. Which isn't to say that juggling a story of this magnitude with gameplay isn't extremely difficult. Having such a grounded, human story and having to add “game mechanics” to it must have been a constant struggle to balance out correctly. I certainly don't envy the trouble they must have gone through to craft such a fantastic game given the circumstances. At every step of the way it seems like they were absolutely pushing the boundaries of what you can do with story in such a traditional style game. Looking back on recent memory the games with really stand out stories have been very mechanics low and are not typically action games. Gone Home and Portal 2 both come to mind as having some of the best stories in the last five years yet relatively speaking they are aren’t heavy on the gameplay side of things.
When I look back on The Last of Us I will have very fond memories. I will remember the final moments and how heartbreaking and beautiful they were. I will remember how Ellie switched from one moment a playful, funny, sarcastic teenager to a survivor slitting throats and doing anything not to die. I'll remember racing through the hospital trying to save my girl. I probably wont remember how I retried certain sections numerous times and got bit by a clicker to many times to count. I wont look too fondly on the fact that I got so tired with the combat that I turned the game into basically a shooting gallery and to be honest I'm not sure if that’s my fault or the game's.
link to my blog https://startsavedgame.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/i-played-the-last-of-us-on-easy-with-lock-on/