Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Last of The Last Of Us - Journeys End

WARNING: This article is more spoiler filled than Spoiler McSpoilersens mighty heavily Spoiler laden Bucket O’ Spoilers™, and is intended to be my final word on the game (until the next article, at least). If you haven’t beaten The Last Of Us yet or have any intention of playing it in the future – which you really owe it to yourself to do – then please do not read on. It's going to unashamedly talk about the best surprises of the game and will ruin your enjoyment of the game completely. You’ll really, really regret it.

"After all we've been through, everything that I've done. It can't be
for nothing."

And with that single word spoken by Ellie, the screen faded to black and the end credits rolled. After all that had happened, all we’d been through, she’d looked at me for reassurance. And I lied to her - and she knew, but didn't mind.

It was more convenient for us both to believe the lie, or the entire journey – all the friends we’d lost, the sacrifices we'd made, the horrors we'd seen from both the infected and what humanity had become – be they fungus-infected monstrosities or desperate cannibalistic survivors - and the sheer barbarity that both were capable of – would have been for nothing.

It's now been almost a couple of days since the end credits rolled and the last of the names scrolled up the screen, and I've been thinking about ending of The Last Of Us a lot. I've enjoyed the fact that I can plunge into spoiler-filled posts and head on and see what other people thought about the game as well, but more specifically how it ended.

Like the poor zombie ants infected by the Cordyceps fungus that the game takes its inspiration that are compelled to do nothing but climb towards the light and then die, the path of Joel and Ellie was inevitable – It was always going to end like that. Not with a huge boss fight in which Joel would emerge holding a vaccine aloft, declared as a hero and the saviour of humanity, but with the two of them blinking into the sunlight having finished the journey as very different people to those who had begun it.

Never has a video-game put me through as many emotions as The Last Of Us.

Fear - Absolute fear. There is no sound quite as terrifying as the guttural click-clicking of a distant clicker as it tries to locate you, or the frenzied snarling of the infected as they hunt you in the dark. I haven't been as scared playing a computer game since zombie dogs bursting through a police station in window nearly gave me a heart attack, and in more than one such situation I had to remind myself to breathe and blink.

I'd relax with the characters in the all too rare situations when they too could relax. When for a few fleeting moments it wasn't about hiding and killing but about the fascinating growing relationship between a jaded killer and a young girl enthusiastic about her first trip into the world. I groaned and laughed with Joel as Ellie told her dreadful jokes and awful puns.

I felt genuine anger when I saw that young Henry had become infected but chose not to tell his companions, and anguish when his brother Sam took the horrible unthinkable step of taking his own life - anything but continue this horrible existence without Henry. Anger when the apparent friendship between Ellie and the survivor David turned into the very worst betrayal.

I was intrigued by the thoughts of friends who had completed The Last Of Us, and have included their opinions here.

"People are making apocalypse jokes like there's no tomorrow.
Too soon."
Firstly, those of Chris Ollis, a.k.a. the incredibly talented Happytoast;

Last of Us - The end - It takes a brave games designer to choose to end a game not with a boss fight, the world exploding or everyone being saved, but with a man telling the girl he wants to look after like his own daughter; a lie, and worse, her acknowledging it, all at the expense of the rest of the world's health This won't be the ending everyone wants, the ones who bought the game wanting a zombie shooter or a survival horror might be a little bewildered. But for me it is everything that the game is about, 2 people who have been put through the worst the world can offer getting on with it. To love and care about someone so much that you would lie to them is a wonderful tormented emotion to jab at and one that I never thought I'd see conveyed so well in a mainstream computer game.


So many. The adult nature of the game. And I don't mean the nasty stuff, I mean the dialogue, the emotions, the deep characterisation was all wonderful. The sheer amount of acting prowess captured/animated in the lead characters; so many times I found myself flinching at bad things happening to people I had formed an attachment to, welling up as each emotional hurdle was crossed. The loss of the daughter was shocking, Ellie's first kill was incredible (I felt as shocked/unwell/a line crossed as she did), Sam and Henry (oh god! and the way it cut afterwards), the times Joel can't express himself (Ellie shooting and running away), so many moments played out better than most real actors can manage.

There are literally too many things to list, from Giraffes to wondering if Joel's dead, the stunning environments to snowstorms, feeling like you're dying when Joel is, Ellie's jokes, gah! I could go on for hours.

The last of us isn't a game and it isn't a movie. It's something bigger and better than both of those things and everyone who considers themselves a film or game buff really should play it.

"No matter what, you keep finding something to fight for."
And in closing, those of my good friend Olly Harvey;

The Last of Us eschewed the climax usually expected by most gamers these days: the final pains of frustration and throwing the controller against the wall as you’re caught out again by a seemingly impossible to defeat final antagonist. Some people may feel that the ending is rather lacklustre in that how can a game that has taken us on such a ride end on the edge of a wood with a simple acknowledgement between the two of their new-found relationship? But this wasn't a game about beating the final boss level and achieving trophies for your PSN account, it was about a journey. That journey wasn't just about getting from Point A to Point B; it was about the experience, the relationships and the emotion along the way. Was Joel’s decision at the end right? Effectively sacrificing humanity for the sake of one person, maybe even panged with the guilt of losing his own daughter. I think so, and I like to think if I had been in his position, I would have made the same decision. But my decision was made because I have experienced that journey with them, and as a result, I have made the same bond that Joel has with Ellie. I watched their relationship grow and, at points, fracture. I begin to feel the same sense of caring and protection that Joel pours on Ellie as the story progresses. Little things, such as how he shields her during those moments where you take cover behind a table waiting for a group of hunters to pass by, or the concern shown when Ellie’s mood seems a little ‘off’, add to making the relationship between the two feel genuine.

Overall, The Last of Us is a beautifully crafted game. The writers have to be given due credit for writing credible, believable characters and the actors for bringing them to life. I had moments of genuine heartbreak and rage thanks to the actions of those that I encountered along the way. I was in awe of the environments that I was immersed in; watching the sunrise over a college campus, scavenging the alleys and back gardens of the suburbs and walking blind during a blizzard whilst being stalked by multiple hunters. Ellie and Joel seeing giraffes roaming the streets of Salt Lake City was a beautiful, touching moment showcased the writing and visual talent on offer. The soundtrack added to the atmosphere, was never intrusive to the game-play and always complimented the storyline.

There are too many things to write about, but it just shows that when a genre feels almost flogged to death, you can still come across a highly polished gem that can make you put down the controller, wide-eyed and open mouthed, and just think to yourself “Wow”.

So there we have it. The Last Of Us. If you've beaten it (or if you felt it overrated and just gave up on it, for that matter), I'd like to know your thoughts. Comments are always gratefully received!


  1. Awesome write-up David.
    I described it to a mate of mine the other day as the best movie I've ever played. So much to like about the game, and deserves all the kudos thrown at it.

  2. Months later, I'm still completely and utterly obsessed with this game. I've played through the story mode four times now (twice for hard/hard+ and twice for survivor/survivor+) and I've become completely addicted to the multiplayer aspect as well. I couldn't have described this game any better than an of the author's in this post, and the ending left me exactly with that feeling: wide-eyed, open mouthed, thinking "Wow."


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