The Last of Us Part II Spoiler Free Review

Posted June 27, 2020 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Naughty Dog

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Release date: June 19, 2020

Available on: PS4

The Last of Us, which arrived on the PS3 in 2013 and then in remastered form on the PS4 a year later, is arguably one of Sony’s best exclusive titles. The tale of a journey by a man, Joel Miller (Troy Baker), and a young girl named Ellie (Ashley Johnson) across a post apocalyptic America ravaged by the deadly Cordyceps virus struck a chord with gamers and critics alike. The game was praised for its stellar writing and outstanding gameplay, and while its ending was a bit open, it still provided a satisfying conclusion.

Now, seven years later, we get what happens next. And The Last of Us Part II delivers a powerful sequel, and lives up in every way to its predecessor. While at its core it is a tale of revenge, it’s also very much a tale of consequences, stemming from decisions made in both games. Writers Neil Druckman and Halley Gross have delivered a complex tale, though it may not resonate as well with everyone. Composer Gustavo Santaolalla returns to give us another heartfelt score, and both Johnson and Baker return to their respective roles, again delivering top notch performances. Joining the pair is Laura Bailey as new character Abby, who is very well acted and nicely defined.

The game takes us from Jackson, Wyoming to Seattle, Washington and points beyond. Naturally there are encounters with the deadly infected, in their various forms, the most sinister being the Stalkers, which can’t be detected through your listening vision. In addition to these menaces are various human factions, one of which uses dogs to aid them (dog lovers may feel plenty of twinges about defending themselves). The game unfolds over 11 chapters and most first playthroughs will average around 25 hours. New Game + is unlocked following completion of the game, to make it easier if you wish another run to find the game’s many collectibles.

Gameplay has been improved upon from the first game, with greater range of movement and some new weapons to deal with enemies. Crafting is streamlined, though you still need to find a safe place to craft additional supplies. Weapons can be upgraded at workbenches, and multiple skill trees are opened up as you find manuals during your journey. Points for the skill trees are accumulated by finding pills, and allow you to build out your character to fit your own play style. Graphically, the game looks beautiful, with plenty of scenery to stop and take in. Photo mode is back and accessible from the Pause Menu, allowing you to take some nice screenshots of your journey.

And this is where this review becomes harder to write. To say more than the basics I’ve mentioned is to reveal spoilers, and this game needs to be experienced spoiler free for a first playthrough to maximize its impact. It’s nearly impossible to discuss much in the way of the characters and what they encounter without revealing spoilers, and that really gets compounded when talking about the plot (One of our other writers, Cody Rostron, has a terrific editorial which does provide plenty of spoilers as it delves into the plot, and I recommend reading it after you complete the game).

What I can say is that beyond the vengeance tale advertised in the trailers, The Last of Us Part II does also offer a story of consequences. We all know that our actions have consequences, and often how we deal with the consequence of our actions is part of what defines us. Druckman and Gross use that to full effect in their script, and the three leads pull it off beautifully. Later parts in the game may feel like filler to some, but in actuality provide further insight into the characters, providing a greater depth to the experience. This is a game that will toy unmercifully with your emotions, and for me the ending was powerful while also being subtle.

The ending may divide some players, but I did find it satisfying and gave me something to think about long after the credits roll. Speaking of the credits, stay tuned for a beautiful song performed by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, just to add to all the feels you’ll get from the game.

In all, The Last of Us Part II delivers everything I could hope for in a sequel. The gameplay and visuals have been improved, and the story is well written and the characters well defined and superbly acted. It’s another masterpiece from developer Naughty Dog, and is best experienced spoiler free on your first playthrough. It’s another experience that shows how far videogames have progressed, and is one that should not be missed, as it’s one of this year’s best titles.

10/10 stars

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus