It is here. It is released during a pandemic. It is inside The Last of Us 2 that we see happiness has come to die.
Happiness is an emotion for those with hope. Hopelessness is for those that have dipped a pinky into the black abyss of creation and found something to improve. Who said that quote, you ask?
No one. If it had been someone, you’d have too much hope.
I kid. The Last of Us 2 is not just a tale of hopelessness that absorbs darkness like snow does an unhealthy yellow stream. The sadness within us all isn’t even the main problem problem.
I love sadness. Sadness improves. Sadness protects. Sadness gives you salt. Salt is nutritious. Life without salt is death. Death is bad, for most people.
Joel and Ellie have discovered their paradise in post-apocalyptic America. A whole community for them to be moody and distraught alongside. Other people are moody and distraught as well, but not quite as much. How do I know this? Because the graphical fidelity is so high that I can see every single wrinkle, mark, and growing zit on their choice faces.
Environments become mostly just a shade of “Dark hallway” or “City crumbled”. In their mid-American mountain range biome, there’s not much else they can pull out of their hats. That goes for gameplay as well, which is mostly unchanged from the first game. Seeing as how this was the first game’s large weakness, that’s a no-no. A medium-sized no-no.
You’ll see Ellie walking through environments like she has severe vertigo. Her hands are constantly pushing and touching around the environment when there isn’t a weapon in them. That mixes with the luxurious animations to create slow turns and awkward doggo interactions. None of the doggos you meet like Ellie’s pets.
Then, The last of Us 2 helps you into a completely different set of shoes - Abby’s. Abby is cock diesel. Her yoke is ready to bring the bombs over baghdad. Her golf game is great too.
Abby is the other side of the coin, the…
The person I do not care about.
I don’t care. Abby is the physical embodiment of narrative whatever-isms. Hers is not the plight I care about. There is no Abby that I care for, and no version for which I care. She is a bad narrative device executed badly.
Her arsenal is the best in The Last of Us 2. She controls the best, shoots the best, and has the best gameplay moment in the entire series. Narratively though, she will receive no opinion from me.
Too true then that half a game you don’t care about leaves half a game filled with narrative malaise. There are some other devices that don’t work - hello flashbacks, my old friend. Oh, I see you brought your friend time skips. What’s that? You had a child? What’s their name?
Satisfying Ending. What a beautiful name for an inevitability.
Too much spaghetti stuck to the wall with The Last of Us 2. My words would fill the next American Novel with advice and ideas that could’ve steered this towards satisfaction. Alas, I am beginning to feel like Neil Druckmann doesn’t even know who I am.
The Last of Us 2 crawls to a 57 arrows out of 89 quivers.
Now that I have pointed out unhappiness, I am off to make a better peanut. It will feature a platinum shell. I cannot tell you any more at this time. Please...understand.
And as always, you...are welcome.