BENGALURU: The Last of Us 2 is the long-awaited sequel of a PlayStation exclusive. The first game was a zombie apocalypse game that was released seven years back. Nothing new, dystopia is the genre of 90 per cent of video games that exist. But it had an emotional journey – that turned heads. Game 2 was released just last week, and I sat through the entire end credits after bingeing the game, just to appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into it.
I have a lot to say about how far representation of female characters in mainstream video games has evolved. I have a lot to say about building out the wider universe within a linear story. I have a lot to say about redundant phrasing in sentences for dramatic effect (I hate it), in the context that the gameplay is anything but predictable and repetitive.
Ellie and Abby share their separate tales of internal conflict, which they channelise into brute strength to rain hell on walkers, runners, stalkers, and shamblers (they call it anything but zombies), and also enemy clans. The gameplay is perhaps just a minor upgrade to Uncharted 4 – but Uncharted itself was revolutionary at its time, and it would be hard to top it. We play as both Ellie and Abby – and it is not just their characters, but also their close combat strategies and weapons which vary a great deal. This makes the game exciting; As if it needed more than just the jump scares.
The dark and horrific encounters were interspersed with the cut scenes - as a reward for all that cardio. Surprisingly, the cinematics aren’t like the ones that we normally skip – the gameplay is so tightly connected to the story, that even random flashbacks serve as a tutorial moment for some puzzle later in the game. The are so many clues and tiny stories of other characters hidden in the environment that you understand better how life is in the apocalyptic reality of TLOU.
The sign of a good game is that when you’re playing it, you are forever dreading the sad moment when it ends. TLOU2 did multiple encores. There were points where I thought – ok, this is where the game ends. But it turns out that I had just reached a halfway point. And the next time, I was completely sure – as sure as the moment when a speaker on the stage takes a really long pause, and everyone starts applauding. But the game, like the speaker, surprises you by ploughing on with more content, until you finally feel like you’ve had enough of it. I rate the game with an A for gore and violence, but a 10/10 for story.