So this is basically me trying to make amends for my mistake for drawing conclusions about a game that I still have not played yet but watched a playthrough of as I was told that playing the game and watching a playthrough of the game are completely different experiences (plus I think that my personal perspectives of the game were influenced by the negative reviews of the game)
While I still have not played the game yet and I plan to in time, I have done a bit of research to see if the story telling and the structure of the Last of Us Part 2 holds up and I found
that goes in an in-depth analysis of the story.
I will not mention too many of my personal thoughts on the matter because that would be contradictory on talking about a game that I still have not played but I will mention some minor thoughts on the matter.
To be honest, contrary to what many people thought that the TLOU Part 2 has some bad storytelling, I am starting to feel that I disagree.
Perhaps this is because people either still have their conclusions drawn from the perspectives that they received from the leaks a few weeks ago that ended up with inaccuracies in the plot details (like the misconception that Abby was a transexual judging by her physique); or because people are drawing too many comparisons with the first game.
Honestly, trying to make comparisons with another game, even if it is a part of a series, is not really the best way to draw conclusions about a game's analysis.
True, the first game's story-telling were phenomenal –
- Joel was a hardened survivor but neither a hero nor a villian;
- everyone in the world is selfish, angry, hungry and tired and possibly for good reasons;
- there were a lot of thought-provoking moments where the player was the one who did those things to those people or were simply acting as the puppeteer who did what the characters intended to given the circumstances of the world that they live in;
- and the relationship between Ellie and Joel was heart-warming and involved a lot of fourth wall messages between the player, from the perspective of someone who is playing a video game in the comfort of his/her own when compared to the characters who are desperate to survive
And I think that Naughty Dog had some good intentions in this game – showing the story about the consequences of one's actions, as I recall that Naughty Dog once said in an interview that the first game was about love and the second was about hate.
And perhaps that this is the main theme here – the concept of hate and the repercussions of one's actions given that while the community of Jackson was slowly thriving, they still lived in a world where violence is ramped and given that people are desperate for human connection and purpose, then you can pretty much guarantee that they are going to be affected if someone around them died, similar to how we felt when Sam and Henry spontaneously died in the first game.
I think that Naughty Dog explored the themes of this concept quite well –
- we saw Abby's point of view and how she grew to be devoted to her mission to get revenge for her loss and we saw her version of humanity with her involvement of the WLF (even though she did not fully agree with them) and her friendship Levi
- we saw Abby who was just as livid with anger and hate as Ellie but at the same time, we saw bits of humanity in her – her friendship with Levi even though he/she (it was never clear what his/her gender was) was a Seraphite, and she even spared Ellie in the theater possibly because she was aware enough that if she killed her and Dina, there was a chance that the revenge cycle was going to continue
- and we saw Ellie's point of view – her relationship with Joel, both the parts where they bonded like father and daughter, and also the parts that she was still struggling to come to terms with when she found out that he lied to her in the first game.
- then we later learn of Ellie's struggles in her quest for revenge – the uncomfortable torture scene, her ferocity in her attacks, her shock when she learned that one of the people that she killed was pregnant, the time that she still was not able to let go of either Joel because she was suffering from PTSD, or when she was given the choice of whether continue with her quest of revenge or not.
We saw so many difficult human conflicts, especially even within the characters themselves that we got to see a better picture of both sides of the story and also the conflicts that both sides had to go through within themselves and between each other.
And this is the part where I felt that the ending, while controversial, was also the point – there was no clear answer to this quest, similar to the first game.
You get your revenge, you lose. You don't get your revenge, you still lose.
So in reality, nobody really wins in this cycle of violence and revenge and I think that was the point of the entire game – putting the characters in uncomfortable positions where they had to choose which path to take even though all of them had their own levels of suffering involved.
Ok now this is where I spot my essay.
- The whole LGBTQA+ themes did not feel forced. They still felt like the people of that community were still victims of prejudices but mostly from a personal point of view (like Ellie feeling threatened because she felt alone and that she felt pushed away from what she desired … similar to how she felt that she had an oppurtunity to save the world but Joel took it from her. Or Levi whose prejudice that he/she sufferred was from the religious zealotry of the Seraphites and his/her desperation for survival)
- Joel's death was shocking. I still feel that we should have that the death reveal a while later until we saw more of Abby's point of view and we developed a relationship with her from her perspective given that we still would have rooted for Joel and Ellie because of how much we knew about them from the first game
- I would have wished to know what happened to the Fireflies. We know that they still existed and I really wished that we knew more about what happened about them after the first game
- Having Jesse following Ellie and Dina for the entire duration of the first half of the game felt too unrealistic. It reminded me of when Naughty Dog first had the idea of making Tess the villian of the first game and follow Joel and Ellie throughout the entire duration of the game (which would have been a year) but they scrapped it because it did not feel realistic
- The Rat King – while cool and scary in design, it did not feel like a "possible" evolution of the Cordyceps infection. The possible infections that we were shown in the first game were designed in ways that still felt grounded in reality … as though if the Cordyceps fungus somehow spontaneously mutated anytime soon, these different stages of infection felt possible and something that could happen to you if you were infected with it. Having a giant mass combination of bodies, as though the corpses of the infected somehow bonded together or grew more appendages and heads, it felt too much like a sci-fi related image. But that is my opinion
Now, essay over.
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