The Internet is full of commentary on this game, right now. Trying to find out whether or not it's worth experiencing is dangerous, though. Many expressing opinions clearly haven't finished it, yet (have they even started it?). Maybe they were misled by the leaks. Maybe they've watched a few YouTubers who stopped playing after 5 hours and think their opinion is real. Maybe they just walked into the room while Reddit was yelling about it, and they're being a
Others make ulterior motives clear. They hate the game because they hate Neil Druckmann (people know Halley Gross was the Narrative Lead, right?). They hate the game because Abby's physique makes them uncomfortable. They hate the game because they don't understand why one of the characters is trans. They visibly cringe on camera when Dina and Ellie kiss.
Navigating that stuff is tough. So, I thought I'd put a quick non-spoilery interpretation of the story up here for anyone's reference. I finished the story, today. No details, below. I don't even use character names.
The story has no moral. Morals are for children's books and sermons, anyway. Anyone saying that the story is "VIOLENCE BAD" or "REVENGE BAD" or "MURDER BAD" hasn't played it or didn't think critically about it.
The story is an examination. It examines its subjects and themes in a way very similar to the way one would examine a social science theory. The whole story is laying out the basis (what, how, why) and its constraints (who, when, where). It walks you through its theory so that, by the end, you have new perspective. Learning how you feel about what you just experienced is 90% of the reward of this game's story.
The phenomenon described by the "basis" is a personal loop through slight -> revenge -> closure -> redemption. The story will get you through that "what" and then through the various "hows" and "whys" that differ as the set of constraints differ. It also zooms out to examine how the loop works with and affects organizations of people.
The constraints keep when and where constant (developed city after society's collapse). The game changes "who" repeatedly in order to show you how the basis (what, how, why) changes. This is the heart of the most poignant messages the game communicates, in my opinion. What does the loop look like for each of the characters examined? Why does it change? Do the changes matter? These are the fun questions you get to ponder when you're done.
I hope you find this synopsis helpful. There's a lot of misinformation, groupthink and ulterior motive floating around right now. Maybe this can shine some clearer light on the game and help you decide once and for all if you want to try it out.
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