If you are a fan of the PlayStation and their many exclusive titles, then you have probably heard of the beloved game The Last of Us. The game dates to 2013 and is widely considered one of the greatest video games ever made. It holds many awards for Game of the Year and 48 total wins in all categories from voice actors to sound to best game design. So how could the sequel be rated so poorly? I mean, it had all your favourite characters, amazing graphics, and was a continuation of the world we all know and love.
Currently The Last of Us 2 has an overall user ranking of 5.2 on meta critic with many stating this was not what they were hoping for at all, and that they were disappointed with how the story went. So, let’s dive into why The Last of Us 2 failed to live up to the reputation of its monumental predecessor.
Firstly, there was the death of Joel. Now, I don’t hate the writers for making this choice to kill off such a beloved character—it was a very bold and risky move from them, and it totally could have paid off, but in my opinion it just wasn’t worth it. Fans of the series expected to be able to play as Joel as they had in the first game and, from the teasers and trailers, it seemed like that would continue
Wrong. It took a completely different path so quickly that you were mad the entire game that Joel died. Many stated that his death seemed uncharacteristic as they felt there was no way Joel would let some random woman take him to her camp without being suspicious. I also believe the execution of this move was lackluster and could have worked with better writing as it seemed more brutal and unnecessary than it had to be.
The issue of killing Joel was that players had already been so deeply connected to this character that no matter what, taking him out was going to come with great backlash. If Abby had been a previous character in the first game, we may have been able to form a deeper connection with her, like the one with Joel. It would have been much more effective, but that just wasn’t the case. The chain of events may have worked as a standalone instead of a sequel, where you see a character die but then get to play both sides of the story and chose who you believe is right.
In this case that doesn’t work out at all. We already know so much about Joel and were already so connected—then some new character like Abby comes in and kills him with no remorse. We were expected to sympathize with her actions by seeing about 10 minutes of her backstory with her dad. While she had some redeeming moments, it was still to hard for dedicated players to look over what she had done. I feel that not enough was done to justify his death; if the story went more in-depth on Abby’s past and her dad, maybe we could have better sympathized.
Secondly, there is no redemption for Joel’s death. Again, Joel was such a beloved character that, if you were to kill him, it would have been more justified if there was some sort of redemption or closure for his death. Unfortunately, that is never given as both times that Ellie fights Abby, they both end up walking away with no winner. I understand that the writers are trying to emphasize that the circle of revenge leads nowhere and we must learn to forgive, but it feels very weak. I would have preferred to get revenge because even by the end, I wasn’t convinced that Joel’s death was justified.
All in all, I thought The Last of Us 2 was great, but fell short with shabby writing and repetitive gameplay. As a sequel to a highly acclaimed game, I feel that it missed the mark and could have been better written with the same message of forgiveness and ending the cycle of revenge.