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A Sequel To ‘The Last of Us’ May Ruin The Narrative

Naughty Dog has become known for their narrative-driven cinematic experiences in recent years, moving from developing challenging platformers with cartoon-esque art styles to a more serious, direct approach to video games. You could claim that Naughty Dog are essentially attempting to push the medium in a way that doesn’t just waste a few hours a day and provide some happiness amidst the terrors of reality, but a widespread of emotion purely through writing.

The studio have become a staple in the industry for creating games that are not entirely gameplay-focused, but provide a comfortable amount of challenges and action as the characters we are surrounded by attempt to draw a conclusion, however, it is not drawing a conclusion that really makes a narrative special; now I’m not referring to cliffhangers (seriously, fuck cliffhangers), I’m referring to ending a narrative on a comfortable conclusion that doesn’t make you question what happens next, but allows you to decide for yourself, and that ultimately leads to a much stronger narrative and gives the player a stronger feeling of compassion towards the characters we saw go through Hell. Warning: Spoilers lie ahead.

Image: Gamespot
Image: Gamespot

The Last of Us ended perfectly. The entire story was just one huge guilt trip for Joel, and that is evident from the beginning, when we see his daughter, Sarah, die during the outbreak. We see Joel as a bitter asshole for a lengthy part of the game, as he feels he doesn’t want anything to do with Sarah, or the world. He simply does not care anymore, he just wants to do what he has to do and go back home and reminisce. Ellie, on the other hand, is a young girl that is kind of oblivious to the fact that she may hold the cure and be able to turn the world back to one that she never actually saw before the outbreak. Joel doesn’t really care if she is or isn’t the cure.

As the story progresses, we see the personalities of Joel and Ellie completely change; Joel is starting to see his daughter in Ellie, and having seen how awful the world is, Ellie is dedicated to getting herself to the Fireflies at whatever cost. Now this is where the game explores emotion in narrative over gameplay. Joel starts to open up to Ellie, he mentions all the fun and exciting fatherly activities he aims to do with her once everything is over, although Ellie just kind of blows them off as she is fixated on saving the world.

Now pushing towards the end of the game, we discover that Ellie may very well be the cure, but has a strong chance of dying during the process of obtaining it. Joel refuses to accept this, resulting in him going full psychopath and murdering a plethora of Fireflies in their lab to ‘save’ her. In the end, Ellie questions the events that took place at the lab, and we see Joel directly lie to her, claiming there simply was no cure, even when she asks him to look into her eyes and swear it to her. We, the player, the person who knows the truth, are left to find an answer to what happened next to both Joel and Ellie. Did they grow up happily together? Did Ellie ever find out about Joel’s lie? Did they even survive another month? It’s up to you.

The Last of Us isn’t a game about survival during a zombie apocalypse or finding a cure to save the world. It’s an exploratory narrative on loss and the lengths some people are willing to go to in order to suppress the past and seek happiness. A sequel will most likely ruin the raw emotion we felt leading up to that conclusion.

The opinions in this featured editorial are that of the author and do not represent PressA2Join as a company.

About Antony Matthews

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Antony has been a video game enthusiast for as long as he can remember. His first system was the SNES--which he still owns--and he has tried to collect as many systems as his in-game currency will allow him to ever since. Antony's biggest achievement is running on the same save for 21 years now with 0 corruptions.

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  • Noizy Bird

    Sequel to The LAst of Us could be great move, but like author said it will ruin what Naught Dog build. I was playing TLoU and it was amazing trip. So much feelings goes through the screen and im afraid thah sequel couldn’t make it.

  • Sweetbrandigirl2004

    I have complete trust in Naughty Dog and trust them fully to deliver an Awesome Sequel. My bestest hope is that they fix the AI to make it more like it was shown at E3 and intended to be.

  • David

    I disagree entirely.

    That ending is entirely about loss, but its just as much about Ellie losing her freedom, her agency, and her hope, as it is about Joel being unable to lose Ellie. Joels actions at the end are understandable and all too human, but at the same time they are entirely monstrous – he is sacrificing the future of humanity, the survival of the human race, just because he cannot bare letting go of his surrogate daughter. This comes after we know that Ellie has, for years, been ready to die if it would mean curing what has happened to the world.

    In the end, Joel takes that option away from her, and lies to her about it. We, the audience, don’t think even Ellie really believes Joel when he lies to her, but she wants to, since she doesn’t want to think Joel is capable of that.

    With a sequel, Ellie is finally able to cast off the yoke that Joel forced her into, and to embrace her own life and her own destiny. She can make the decision that Joel, and the player, took from her years ago, and she can choose to walk gladly to her death, knowing that it will be the thing that ends the nightmare world she was born into.

    Joel could even become the antagonist – it makes sense, her rebelling from him and trying to run away to die would cause an already unstable man to sink deeper into insanity, and go on a brutal rampage trying to stop her, to capture her, to keep her safe. We’d have a game where the antagonist is trying to keep the protagonist alive, and the protagonist is trying to kill herself.

    At the climax, Ellie is forced to kill Joel to make him stop trying to trap her in a box for the rest of her life, a brutal mirroring of how Joel, without a second thought, slaughtered the Firefly’s to save Ellie.

    This could conceivably top the first game. ANd I say that as someone who holds The Last Of Us as my favorite game of all time, bar none.

  • Tareem Polk

    i love the lastof yus it feklt so real i played the game four hour 0r 6 hour each day that a game i couldn’t put down at all lol i hope they come out with another part of the game it felt like the tv show walking dead but better