The Last of Us Part 2 has big shoes to fill. Naughty Dog's original game set the bar for narrative-driven action games in 2013, to the point where a lot of people weren't even sure a second game needed to happen. I mean, the story was perfect, and how could you possibly follow up that gut-punch of an ending?
Well, I'm pleased to say that not only is The Last of Us Part 2 one of the most powerful, moving games I've ever played, it's one of the best pieces of media I've consumed this decade. It more than justifies its existence.
The second title picks up a few years after the original left off, with players now in the shoes of an adult Ellie out to hunt down people who've wronged her. Sadly, that's pretty much all I can say on the premise front, but with the embargo up, I can finally dig into just what makes this sequel worth the wait.
And of course, with it being a week out from release, expect no spoilers here.
10. The Story Is Rich And Focused
The developers have made no secret that this is a game about hate, and that theme permeates every aspect of this sequel.
Yes, we're playing as Ellie again, but this is an older, colder, and more troubled version of the character. The events of the first game weigh over every choice the character makes in The Last of Us 2, and we get to see a dark side to her that was reserved for Joel in the original. With adulthood, some of the childlike naïveté has rubbed off, but this is still very much the Ellie of the first game, all grown up and scarred with hatred.
Thankfully the script, written by Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross, more than does this theme and character justice. From the micro to the macro, every part of this plot interrogates the idea of cycles of violence leading to cycles of violence. Grief and trauma are concepts that have rarely been handled so well, given almost a mythical, Biblical framing in the context of the game.
However, despite how apocalyptic the focus may seem, this isn't just an ugly, nasty story that puts characters through the wringer for the sake of it. In fact, it's an incredibly tender game at times, and full to the brim with quiet humanity...