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The Last of Us took the video game industry by storm not because it did anything necessarily new but because it executed everything near perfect and was a great capstone to the last generation. Now with the downloadable content Left Behind, we focus on two aspects that we cut back and forth between: The in between time of the Fall and Winter seasons of the original game and a brand new time frame before the story of Joel and Ellie, her friendship with Riley. The game plays virtually the same as The Last of Us as expected, the same refined 3rd person shooting and stealth tactics that made the original game so great. But what surprises me the most is how much the downloadable content didn’t focus on combat. There isn’t a whole lot of combat in general throughout until the climax which actually makes the entire thing much more effective.
Instead, we get much more intimate, playful, and humorous moments between Ellie and Riley, ones that work so well in making you care about Riley in a little over two-hour span and expand upon Ellie’s character in the best ways possible. Moments such as visiting a Halloween store or simply listening to a song or seeing a carousel are so effective despite being such small things because they aren’t entirely small things in a world so torn apart (and symbolism is used greatly as well). Also, the game is surprisingly funny throughout, it was more humorous a lot of the time than the original game which clearly has to do with the fact that Ellie is hanging around someone her own age-someone who completely and utterly understands only this world and what this world has to offer, not the world prior to. For example, one of my favorite moments in the entire thing involves a joke book which just lets you keep on going for quite some time with Ellie reading jokes off, combine that with the great music playing in the background it provides something only video games can offer: smaller moments meaning so much more than they should with the simplicity of a button push.
There isn’t many areas in general, they are much smaller and compact which makes sense for a two-hour piece of content but that doesn’t change the fact that things aren’t still worth exploring whether it be small collectibles that give more great side stories like Ish (although not as massive) from the original game or simple graffiti on the walls from the Fireflies. Throughout the entire thing I was wondering how they were going to connect the two separate pieces of story but it ends up tying together quite nicely and makes the storytelling structure quite effective in the end.
The acting by the two leads is obviously top-notch, Ashley Johnson once again stands out quite incredibly; maybe even more so this time around with portraying Ellie’s emotions perfectly and Yaani King is incredible as Riley making the friendship feel so organic. Overall, my only true complaint is maybe the length but that doesn’t really take away from the story itself, it is effective, well done, and only emphasizes the original game even more so with the twists and turns it eventually takes to the end.
+The acting being even better this time around
+Humorous, intimate, and playful moments taking the stage this time around
+An essential addition to The Last of Us story
+Great usage of symbolism
-A bit on the short side
-Combat can occasionally feel a bit forced at times