The new downloadable content for The Last of Us, Left Behind, fuses together a story untold about Ellie and her friend, Riley, that was briefly mentioned in the game’s original story. The events of Left Behind include some of the storyline from The Last of Us, so there will be spoilers for those who have not completed the game’s original story.
The downloadable content opens up the story of Ellie’s life, in which was most dear to her, spending time with her only friend, Riley. It dives deep into the moments they shared and the closeness of friendship that they had. All we knew of Riley was that they were both bitten and they were going to be poetic and lose their minds together. But the friendship was not discussed further, until now.
The story begins when Joel is impaled and it is up to Ellie to ensure he survives. Left Behind details the struggles she endured to keep him alive, all while fighting off the enemies and infected and trying to survive herself. While searching for the supplies she needs in a mall, in which they are sheltered in, the backstory of Riley and Ellie then begins.
Living in a world of ruins, where the constant fear of a cordycepts infection haunts the living, the two have fun just the way growing kids would. Riley’s sudden departure left Ellie to live with a saddened heart, thinking her friend died. Upon return, Riley tries to do everything she can to make up for her leave and bring that smile back to Ellie by taking her to the Colorado mall, which allows them to just be kids. Where else do teenage or preteen girls have the most fun together, besides a mall setting?
Some QTEs are throwing into the mix of the gameplay elements, as the girls visit the old arcade. We learned from the original campaign that Ellie has always wanted to play an arcade. In attempting to do so, the player will preform the moves that are indicated on the screen, as she enjoys a fighting game. The inclusion of the player’s actions made it that much more fun, rather than just sitting back and watching her. It was a clever way to involve the player, when it wasn’t needed, but added to the experience of sharing Ellie’s excitement.
It was also entertaining to watch the girls’ trip to a Halloween store and being able to interact with the items in the store reminds us that they are still growing girls, longing for fun, as normal kids would, in a world of chaos and destruction. A skull that tells a fortune when it is shaken, much like the 8ball one that we are all familiar with, is included to add to the fun of the trip that they shared. The player can have Ellie try on the masks and taunt Riley as Ellie will take on the persona of the type of mask that is put on. A photo booth allows them to be girls and connect with each other, while involving the player with the ability to choose the next pose and just have fun right along with them. The game also links to Facebook to allow the player to post the pictures taken on his/her Facebook wall, which is a nice touch to share the experience of the game. The pun book is back and offers up more amusing moments to briefly divert the attention from the gore that constantly surrounds them.
Photos scattered throughout the stages of those who have passed on take on a particular realism in the artwork. The realistic looking photos give the player a sense of getting to know the deceased and peek into their experiences. The aesthetics also take on great detail in advertisement signs plastered throughout the mall. Not only do the photos give a certain feel of life to the dead, but the DLC also includes the video game trope of recorders left behind by the deceased. These recordings are of the person’s final thoughts and offer a voice to the dead.
It would’ve been an even more touching story to include more of an emotional state in Ellie, seeing that the only other person in her life that meant so much to her, other than Riley, could soon be gone, too. Showing her crying by Joel’s side, knowing that his fate lays in her hands, would bring back that emotional feeling we felt when Sarah died in Joel’s arms. The DLC touches on her emotions when both Riley and Ellie are bit, but would have been even more touching to tie the two stories of the DLC together with a more emotional pull on the player’s feelings, with the possibility of Ellie losing both Riley and Joel.
The crafting system that we loved from the main storyline of the game is included in Left Behind. It continues to reward the player for exploration and offers the player the ability to craft health packs and other items to use to enhance the battle sequences. This will leave the player wanting to explore the areas to their fullest, before moving on.
While the the fight scenes are not as frequent as the original game, the addition of the fun times of the girls’ trip to the mall enhances the story with more of a personable feel to it. Ellie’s movements and stances are also captured in a way that are completely realistic to a girl her age. This lends a hand to creating a realism of Ellie in the heart’s of the player. The content is short, but sweet, adding about two to three hours of additional gameplay and story.Left Behind proves to be great added content that does not take away from the feeling we had from playing The Last of Us, instead it gives us more of an insight to Ellie’s back story, as the player grows to understand her personal experiences.
The DLC certainly involves the player in Ellie’s journey in a way that allows the player to feel he/she is in her shoes, which adds to the experience. For those who long for more of The Last of Us, the Left Behind downloadable content is certainly a must to satisfy the craving.
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