When ‘The Last of Us‘ game was released back in 2013 for the PlayStation 3 nobody knew how popular it would become. The dark and gritty post-apocalypse survival game won numerous game of the year awards and even had some gamers calling it the best game they have ever played. Naughty Dog, the creators of the game, had hit the gaming jackpot.
Now with a highly anticipated HBO show in the works based on ‘The Last of Us’ being developed by the creator of the hit TV series Chernobyl, it’s safe to say that the world of The Last of Us will go down in entertainment history. (I’m sure that you don’t need any reminder on just how great Chernobyl was received by viewers.)
Yet, The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4 is the reason we are here — a game that was seven years in the making and plagued by several delays has finally arrived. I played the first few hours and here are my first impressions.
Don’t worry this is entirely spoiler free, I promise.
‘The Last of Us Part II’ opens with Joel recapping the events of the closing stages of the previous installment to his brother Tommy and reminding us about the harrowing decision Joel had to make in the first installment.
Essentially, it was a grave choice:
Does he allow Ellie to die in a lab to allow the creation of a cure to the deadly disease, which destroyed the planet, or put their relationship first and rescue her in the hope of finding another way? Ultimately, choosing the latter resulted in him killing anyone who stood in his way to get her to safety. Would you do the same to save someone you loved?
Unlike the first game, The Last of Us Part II starts as a slow burn. The premise of how it begins catches us up with the characters and builds to a truly devastating turn of events.
If I ever were to lose you, I’d surely lose myself.Joel Sings To Ellie, ‘The Last Of Us Part II’
Four years later, a new hope has blossomed.
The scene opens to a massive community called Jackson, which is filled with stables, playgrounds, and even bars. We find a grown-up Ellie who has made her way through the town interacting with colorful characters in a way that feels as if things are slowly getting back to normal.
One new character playing as the love interest to Ellie — her name is Dina. The characters interact with day-to-day conversations about making out at parties, which make the days of fighting for survival seem long gone. Naughty Dog does a great job of making the characters seem happy and safe despite knowing that at any minute something is going to go horribly wrong.
The story of ‘The Last of Us Part II’ switches between three characters at the start, Joel, Ellie and a completely new mysterious character called Abby. She gets attention in the opening hours (at least, from what I played), leading us to wonder how she’s connected with the protagonists. Abby is searching for something or someone and seems hell bent on achieving her goal whatever it takes.
Any semblance of happiness is ripped away as something so unexpected and shocking happens surprisingly early into the game that sends Ellie travelling across the country on a mission fueled by pure anger and revenge.
If you thought the first game was bleak and gritty, then ‘The Last of Us Part II’ surely doubles it. Get ready to cry, because … you will.
Admittedly, in terms of gameplay The Last of Us Part II keeps it pretty safe. Using the same mechanics as the previous game but builds on it to create a smoother, more polished play style.
In this case: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
By providing very limited resources like ammo and health kits, the game keeps you immersed in the same post-apocalyptic world for a perpetual experience. You aren’t just playing a shooter game–every shot counts and one tiny mistake could cost you your life.
This makes the gameplay exhilarating. You’re forced to play smart and think outside the box to survive–choose whether to sneak past an enemy or use that final bullet you’ve been hoarding for a while. You feel exhausted after every encounter and some even left me putting down the controller afterwards for a moment just to catch my breath.
Another feature that adds to the gameplay is the updated and incredibly realistic graphics. You will want to just stop at times and admire them, but only if there isn’t a Clicker hunting you down. If so, run like hell.
With the graphics being so good, this allowed Naughty Dog to blend in the gameplay seamlessly after a cutscene without the need for any cuts or loading screens. An emotional and intensely driven cutscene can lead into a daring escape, putting you in control without anything breaking the immersion.
A great payoff for all that vested interest you put into playing ‘The Last of Us Part II’ for sure.
THE DESOLATE WORLD
The world of ‘The Last of Us Part II’ goes bigger and better in this sequel. The game first takes place on the snowy mountain tops where the old world still remains; yet, buried underneath thick layers of snow and rubble. From there, you’re off to explore the overgrown and barren city of Seattle. Trees, weeds, and fungus grow throughout every building and the infected spores of the Cordyceps Parasite are circulating the air you breathe.
Every house you explore has a story to tell. Players have the option to interact with a note left behind by an unknown survivor.
Reading the note reveals they all have a heartbreaking backstory which is fleshed out expertly with care from Naughty Dog, from saying goodbye to loved ones or confessing to the guilty things they were driven to do in this world. They are dark and emotional but depict a very realistic look on humanity.
The infected enemies you remember from the first game all return with the addition of a completely new mutation called Shamblers, which are much like the Bloaters with a twist–they explode.
Creating a cloud of toxic spores that hurts you over time when you get too close, you will want to avoid these at all costs. The Runners and Clickers are even more terrifying than before as they jump out and surprise you around every corner. If the infected don’t kill you then the sadistic cult members called the Seraphites (Scars) certainly will as you get caught in the middle of it all. You won’t feel safe in this dangerous world, not even for a second.
Ignore the leaks and most definitely, ignore the disgusting uproar from fans. This is a game you need to experience yourself. To feel the sheer tension and horror at your fingertips as you guide Ellie through this emotionally charged journey, getting lost in its bittersweet beauty along the way.