Back in December Sony and Naughty Dog made the surprise reveal that they were working on a sequel to their critically acclaimed 2013 gem The Last of Us. While this was something many wanted the reveal did come as a shock with a fully made trailer that showed some of the key differences that Naughty Dog had in store. This game is going to have some key different to the original and while that is a good thing we have had some time to reflect on this game and I must say I am truly concerned.
Everyone who knows me well enough would be aware just how much I love The Last of Us, the brilliance found in the gameplay and narrative direction stands as a definitive point of why I enjoyed the game as much as I did. The wonderful construction of the roller coaster ride of a narrative meant you were always emotionally unprepared for what would happen next, even at a time with such moral ambiguity.
To tell the truth I spent the first year upon finishing The Last of Us imagining potential scenarios or further stories that the game could explore with Joel and Ellie. But as I continue to look back I realize that a sequel to The Last of Us should not exist, perhaps I am alone in this but it just does not seem necessary.
Despite the common belief that if something is popular it needs a sequel this is never true, not every game needs a sequel and many are better just being left alone. The Last of Us is one of these games that managed to create a narrative that could be continued on but did not require it with the room allowed for players to conceive their own story conclusion.
Did Ellie know what Joel had done and in turn knew he lied, this is a key point that is fun to speculate on and was enjoyable to simply conceive your own conclusion on. It was this moment tailored with the rest of the game that made The Last of Us so appealing, the twists and turns of the narrative showing how Ellie and Joel’s relationship evolved. In the hopeless world this was the element that made the game so charming, and by extension a sequel won’t live up to this.
Sure the games director Neil Druckmann has stated that this is a game that will more closely explore Ellie years after the events of the original game. This will even change a core theme from the original game which was love to be directed at hate, just watching the trailer you can clearly see this element at play. You can see freshly dead bodies everywhere as Joel wanders through, but more directly it is Ellie’s wording that does offer a major insight into this game direction.
Ellie is on a warpath, this will not be a game about a cross country journey to find hope that particular ship has certainly sailed. Now we are off as Ellie to rid some wrongs and I do wonder where the game is going with this, I can’t deny that the trailer has me intrigued and I am certainly open to a new direction for The Last of Us but this fails to really capture that same appeal that made The Last of Us unforgettable.
Taking the road of hate is looking like it will cut off a lot of the heart and soul which made most moments in the original fantastic. It might also cut off those rare moments that meant a lot as the player, say goodbye to random jokes and those moments that made you forget about the state of the world, and more importantly those memorable moments which stand out due to how they hone in on Ellie’s fears and weaknesses.
I am not saying that this game is going to be bad, I just remain cautiously optimistic it could be all too easy to simply ruin the game and by extension the original. The direction they are heading has me worried, not just because it is not needed but because they could struggle to truly build a narrative which truly impacts the player.
This was another element that made The Last of Us special, through shock value in moments such as Henry’s suicide and the way it really impacts your feelings. From the opening moments this game was a whirlwind of emotion, and if The Last of Us Part II fails to create steady pacing and an evolving character or characters something could really go wrong.
When Naughty Dog does bring this out I will play it, and I will look at the game with an open mind. Honestly I would love to be pleasantly surprised and feel the same way I felt playing through the original, but there are also too many factors in the games design that make me nervous for the final product. Please Naughty Dog you have a great track record but make sure you stick to what made The Last of Us good and accommodate that into the sequel. I want to like it, but I can’t shake the feeling that I want this game to not exist even more.