The Last Of Us Part 2 Broke Me

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Posted June 27, 2020 by Cody Rostron in Nerdy Bits

FULL SPOILERS FOR THE LAST OF US PART 2!

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I might be a monster. You know those uninformed people who say video games can desensitize people and cause violence? Well, The Last Of Us Part 2 made me throw all my morals and thoughts about justice and vengeance out the window. Story-driven action/adventure games like these tend to follow a path of good guy and a bad guy. And the good guy is the good guy because he has a set of rules that he won’t cross. And I like to think of myself as a level headed person. for instance, I could never play through Mass Effect as a Renegade because I didn’t like making people angry or upset. I just preferred it when everyone could all work together. And that sort of attitude goes with every game I play, except for this one.

SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS…

Joel, The father figure of Ellie, And our protagonist, through the first part of Last Of Us, is killed about two hours into the game. Out on Patrol, he and his brother Tommy rescue a woman trapped by some infected. They offer to help. She follows them, and eventually, since they are overwhelmed, make it back to her hideout where she and many others have been hunting for Joel. They blindside them. Abby shoots Joel in the leg, and Tommy is beat with the but end of a gun multiple times. Joel understanding the situation he’s in infers that she should give her speech and get on with it. Instead of Killing Joel, Abby says, “You can’t rush this.” a line reading that will haunt me for the next few weeks, I’m sure. Pulling out a golf club from an old, discarded set lying around and proceeding to beat his brains in.

I explain all that because it made me profoundly angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been playing a video game or any medium for that matter. This group of people who we don’t know brutally killed a beloved character. From that moment on, I had blinders on, much like Ellie. I wanted vengeance; I wanted to play this game and make these people suffer. I got so angry I stopped seeing logic and reason. I’ve seen a few reviews and have been lucky enough to avoid any significant leaks or spoilers that this game has been plagued with since before it’s release. So when and how Joel’s death happens felt like a gut punch. The thing I keep coming back to is the torture. Not the killing but the anguish, It really sticks in my mind.

About halfway through the game, you switch perspectives. From Ellie’s point of view, searching for vengeance to Abby’s aftermath of getting her revenge. And I’ve read a few reviews and listened to a few podcasts, and they all seemed to have a similar perspective. They didn’t even want to bother with Abby, I know what they are trying to do they want me to sympathize with Abby and see how she got to where she is. And over time, they all grew to like her or even love her in some cases. But I can’t.

I hate Abby, truly. Like no other character I can think of. It has nothing to do with Laura Bailey, who is always excellent and does a fantastic job as Abby. In fact, all the acting in this game is impressive. But I wanted no part of Abby’s journey, and I legit hated playing as her. I was so set in my ways that I couldn’t even see the other side of the argument. Which is just not how I usually operate. I’m incredibly empathetic and try the know the reason people do what they do. And Abby’s motive for killing Joel is justified. He killed her father, who was working on a cure for humanity while trying to save Ellie. I get it. But I didn’t care. All I saw was red. And I think my enjoyment of the game suffered because of that.

Niel Druckman has said this is a game about hate. And I agree entirely cause I hated when I took over as Abby. Now the gameplay never suffers. The gameplay is the same, and it’s terrific. Still, I’ve never wished death upon my own player character before, and even when Abby and Ellie face off for the first time, I was actively rooting for Ellie even though I am playing as Abby. When Abby finds Owen and a pregnant Mel murdered, I felt a jolt of excitement running through me, I was happy she was suffering. When Manny gets shot in the face by Tommy, I was delighted. Making Nora talk by beating her head in was an incredible sense of catharsis. Watching Ellie struggle with PTSD and tell Dina that she had to find Abby, and I agreed with Ellie. I wanted blood. The only time my hatred waivered was at the end of the game, and Ellie is fighting a tortured and emaciated Abby. And even then, I wanted to kill her.

I’m not a violent person, I hate guns. I’ve never been in a fight even. But this game broke me. I had no empathy for Abby, I wanted nothing more than to see her and her friends suffer. Even little things like playtime. I spent way more time as Ellie simply scavenging for supplies and looking for collectibles than I ever did as Abby. Every time the screen went black, I prayed that it would take me back to Ellie, and we could kill some more WLF soldiers. I can’t explain the switch this game had on me. My first guess was that I had a much more profound affection for Joel as a person that I initially believed, but I’m not so blind as to not see he is also not a very good person. I think it’s the torture that pushed me over the edge. “You don’t get to rush this.” followed by the violent strikes. If she had just killed him, I think I would’ve been less apprehensive about playing as her. But she made him suffer. And I couldn’t forgive that.

I seem to be in the minority in hating Abby, but time will tell. The game is only a few days old at the time of writing this. I think I must say that this game is excellent and one of the best PS4 games I’ve ever played. I’m curious to try and go back to the game once I’ve cooled off and can see it with a fresher perspective knowing what is going to happen. It’s not without flaws like some visible and ham-fisted writing and some pacing wonkiness, but the pros far outweigh the cons. as I said, Abby and Ellie play the same way, and the gameplay is enjoyable. I just preferred being Ellie. You’re fighting an uphill battle trying to make me sympathize with someone who tortured Joel in front of Ellie, and it seems to have worked on most people, but I, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them. Hopefully, it will work on my second playthrough whenever that is. That being said, Abby has some of the best sequences in the game. Things like fighting that giant blob in the basement of the hospital or the journey to haven. It’s all incredibly well done. But personally, my favorite sequence is the Museum trip with Joel and a young Ellie.

I can’t fully explain my feelings towards Abby, I really wish I could. She’s portrayed as a fully fleshed out sympathetic character with wants and needs that most Naughty Dog games don’t put into their villains. But even at the very end when Ellie is drowning Abby and decides to let her leave. I felt conflicted. Usually, I would advocate for mercy and forgiveness, but in the back of my mind, I wished she would’ve killed her. I fear my anger prevented me from seeing anything else. Which is something that’s never happened to me before. I’ve never played a game or watched something that made me put blinders on like that. So hats off to Naughty Dog for making me lose my mind.


About the Author

Cody Rostron

Writer, Graphic Designer, and Artist, But most importantly a huge nerd.