Female protagonists are rare. And even more so, female protagonists that aren’t sexualized in some way, I could go off on a tangent on the whole representation of females in video games (as many already have) but I won’t instead I want to focus on teenage protagonists. Ellie in The Last of Us was a fantastic character but we didn’t control her a whole lot except for a part in the winter season. Left Behind allows us to play as her for the entire thing and what it really does is display how we need great teenage protagonists more often because it gets everything so right. Being a teenager is really weird. Female or not. I guess I can say that with confidence (kind of) because I still am one. At the time of writing, I am 17 years old. Sometimes we do dumb things like running around a costume shop and putting on masks and doing stupid things with said masks that are quite hilarious (maybe not that specific). Or be utterly sarcastic a lot of the time to mask what is truly happening. The list could go on. The point is what this downloadable content did is really get into the mind of a teenager which easily reflects on both the player and this post-apocalyptic world.
I think the strange thing about Left Behind is that I’ve never experienced something exactly quite like it. There isn’t much combat (and I would have preferred none at all) or big, lengthy, crazy cutscenes. It is simply a collection of these beautiful small moments in a two-hour span between friends (and shows more of what Ellie did for Joel which is also quite important). We care about Riley and Ellie’s friendship so easily and almost right away because it feels so life-like and natural. It goes above and beyond just being a video game and reflects real life in an almost perfect sense in a post-apocalyptic world, which is incredible. It isn’t set in our time. It is set in a world where the emotions are raw and the most honest because they have to be in such a gruesome place.
The last thing to touch upon is the kiss between Ellie and Riley. It is a very controversial and beautiful part. So many people are caught up on the aspect of Ellie’s sexuality. Who cares? Does it even matter? I don’t think so. It was a kiss between two friends who really care about each other. It is as simple as that. Her sexuality is so completely irrelevant to the kiss and has zero importance to the meaning behind it. It’s two people who actually care about each other a lot and had a bond because in this gruesome world, you are going to need someone to be close to (well, I think most people want that in real life as well but that’s besides the point). Left Behind is a wonderful piece of content that not only gives female protagonists a great name but also teenage protagonists both being a rarity in the games industry and it is a great thing to see. A really great thing to see.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!