Discussing the plot of The Last of Us 2: what’s so brilliant and why is everyone shitting?
At first I laughed, hit my face with my palm, hated this game and Neil Druckman. Then it seemed to me that the plot was just mediocre. Then – which is absurdly bad. And on the credits, I definitely identified The Last of Us 2 as the main game of the generation.
Everything is so easy, for example, with RDR 2 or God of War! You can discuss the whole work, describe the plot structure in a nutshell, and everyone will understand everything. Unfortunately, this will not work with TLoU 2.
Talking about the sequel is like talking about The Sixth Sense or Remember, trying to both intrigue and not spoil the view. It’s even more complicated: in these two films, the spoiler is definitely “cool”, but what is happening with Neil Druckman has already launched the third world on the streams.
Let’s discuss the game with spoilers in the comments! And in order to have something to start from, in this material I will retell the main points of the story so that everyone who passes by can quickly understand:
● Is Joel dead?
● What’s with the SJW agenda?
● Why does the game exactly divide the fans into two camps?
● Who is transgender?
In a sense, this text is scarier than spoilers, because I will share exactly how the game … is lived. I do not set the task to retell all 28 hours in detail, but I will try to highlight all the key ideas of the author.
A prologue that immediately turns the wrong way.
So! After being reminded of “how it ended,” you get the full equivalent of the intro from the previous installment – a peaceful walk-through with a survey of the surroundings. Several years have passed, and in the role of Ellie we walk through a city filled with people, listening to who kissed whom yesterday, who is whose ex and who is skipping work shifts. We make our way through the peaceful everyday bustle. The idea is clear: we are shown peacetime on the eve of the storm.
Peaceful time for Ellie is a secret love for Dina: Jewish, bisexual, out-of-the-box, but a caring girl, plus or minus the same age. An awkwardly flirting couple go on a regular sentry raid around the neighborhood, but the storm locks them up in an underground weed warehouse. And when the awkwardness reaches its maximum level, the blackout hides the lesbian scene. (Judging by the context, Ellie’s first experience in general).
I am not a supporter of shouting about the “agenda”: well, lesbian and lesbian. But at this stage of the game, everything is served obsessively and, most importantly, not too reasonably, therefore, it is frankly an eyesore.
Moreover, the second character enters the scene: Abby. A masculine mountain of muscles on protein, which, judging by the context, went from afar to our cozy city on someone’s soul. From her side in the cutscenes, we are immediately showered with some unnecessary names: someone is someone’s ex, someone is pregnant … and you sit and try to understand, what difference does it make to us?
We alternately play for Ellie, then for Abby, until both storylines converge at one point: Abby falls into a storm and a crowd of infected, from which she is saved … Joel, who for 2 hours of gameplay really did not appear anywhere except for the opening cutscene. Finally, I missed you!
Abby was also “bored”: she makes a difficult face, takes Joel to the base to her and … Already playing as Ellie we break inside to watch Abby kill in the most brutal cutscene (and, I swear, the most detailed shot in PS4 history) Joel. The rest are released for some reason.
The part of the players who wanted to get a continuation of the original story, close the console and delete the game. Do you think this is the highest point of hatred for Drakman? Oh wait, we’re just getting started.
I think that structurally this block is done perfectly: we, as players and spectators, literally lose Joel physically. His timing is only a few minutes, and he is immediately excluded from history, without giving him even three pages of remarks. Due to this, the feeling of loss, understatement, and most importantly, of total injustice increases.
You walk through Joel’s empty house and through the interiors you absorb how the character’s life unfolded, which you missed and which the authors “did not give you”. It’s a great presentation that fits very well with how Joel and Ellie’s relationship is later described to us.
If you think: “Damn, the game has turned in the wrong place, why is this all here” (and you probably think!), Then further – only pain and humiliation. After all, when Ellie goes from the grave to Joel’s house to say goodbye … the absolutely useless and unnecessary Dina is tied up behind her. And then she will go with us to avenge Joel! Why the heck are you getting in here ?!
Day 1. You get discouraged every minute.
The subtitle reads: “The first day of the trip”, and… You realize that instead of Joel and Ellie, you have been slipped the journey of two teenage lesbian girls, one of whom is trying in vain to be charming and joke Naughty Dog-style. Suddenly you find yourself playing Life is Strange, and, exploring a huge territory, trying to accept a new companion that you did not ask for.
Dina, I repeat, cannot be characterized in any way, she does not have a distinct personality and clearly defined character traits. She is caring, wild, fragile, the best killer in the area. She doesn’t have any significant flaws. The game day lasts, and you get worse and worse and worse from the fact that the road-movie will have to be spent in a company in which there is no chemistry.
The goal is quickly identified: there are photographs of all Joel’s killers. We are only interested in Abby, the rest can be released (huh, notice the coincidence?). We are occupying the old theater as a hub location and are already preparing to go deep into Seattle, when, at the end of the day, we learn a stunning twist: Dina is pregnant.
At that moment, from the inappropriateness and lack of motivation of what was happening, I burst out laughing and turned off the console.
Day 2. How much worse?
Do you know “why” Dina was pregnant? So that through one mission… a young father, Jesse, will come to our theater-hub! This is no longer LIfe is Strange, this is “13 Reasons Why”: Ellie throws jealous glances at a couple, the maximum awkward tension hangs in the triangle, and you tear your hair: you’ve been playing for ten hours, damn Drakman exchanged Joel for a teenage love triangle, but what the devil, game, where are you rolling?
One salvation. Ellie (who, by the way, also lost her brightness of character, even began to swear less) becomes angrier and more furious from cutscene to cutscene, and in the Finding Nora episode she throws off a generally harmless woman into mushroom disputes, tortures the doomed for information and scores under our direct control her metal pipe. Okay, at least some dynamics of the development of history looms.
There is only one salvation from the corruption of everything that happens: flashbacks to Joel. Ellie recalls the best moments of their peaceful life, and each of these episodes is worth its weight in gold. They are great from start to finish, the life and chemistry of the first part wakes up in them again, and you completely share the longing for this character.
And here, for the first time, a little bit of game genius begins to unfold: firstly, you finally make sure that Joel’s withdrawal from the game was so abruptly an artistic device. There are a lot of flashbacks, and you are given a character in small portions. He still remains the most important part of the story: and, as Denis noted, Joel’s death does not prevent him from telling the story of his relationship with Ellie.
Flashbacks have their own storyline: Ellie is trying to find out from Joel what happened to the Cicadas? After all, he, of course, did not tell how he interrupted innocent people. But Ellie suspects something was wrong, runs away from the village and personally learns the story of the massacre staged by the old man.
This is the point where Joel and Ellie separate forever. Her life could mean something to all of humanity, she could save millions of people, but she was not given the right to choose. And for this, she physically cannot forgive Joel. Then you realize that the first part of TLoU is never a complete work, and without this elephant in the room, the ending of the original has no meaning. Okay, this is strong.
Day 3. It’s clear, “Prohodnyak”.
As we move deeper into Seattle, we understand this. The city was divided by the military “Wolves” (Abby is their best killer) and the cultists “Scars” who live on a separate island. Scars don’t bother us much, we rush to the aquarium where Abby is hiding.
Ellie moves around the city with the father of her girlfriend’s child (oh my god, why is this a game, huh?). At some point, he has enough strength to turn from the path of revenge: he only wants to save Tommy, but Ellie is eager to kill Abby. At the thirteenth hour it all feels like the climax and the end of the game. Through a terrible storm you rush to this oceanarium, you do not understand, it was all drawn, half of the storylines seemed to have passed by, the game, at best, was a “prodigal”, and you really did not get any pleasure.
Ellie apparently feels the same way, because as soon as she finds a quarreling couple of killers in the Oceanarium, she (rather by chance, but still) kills both of them. One of them is a pregnant woman. Whoa.
The theme of insane violence and the murder of random people at this point in the game reaches its peak: Ellie cutting a pregnant woman is truly a shocking shot. And it suddenly becomes clear why Dina was pregnant from the very beginning: Drakman mirrors emotions to the “other side”.
But Abby is nowhere to be found, other members of our expedition come running, take Ellie back to the theater-hub, persuade her to drop everything and forget. Reasonable arguments: we have already mowed down half of the city and all the direct participants, we ourselves are beaten, revenge has taken place. Ellie, it seems, through enormous tension, even agrees …
But then Abby rushes into the frame, knocks out the brains of the failed dad, takes Tommy prisoner, yells: “We let you go, why did you ruin everything yourself?”, Prepares to shoot Ellie … And we go into blackout.
Prologue 2. Go to hell, Neil Drakman.
Flashback! As sickeningly snotty as possible.
It turns out that Abby is the daughter of the very scientist who was going to dissect Ellie. She, then still a teenager, already – “Cicada”. Her father, a doctor, at the first appearance saves a zebra from barbed wire (what a vulgarity!), Behaves like a holy person and really, really does not want to take the life of little Ellie, despite her immunity.
Okay. Despite being served “head-on”, the idea seems sound: in the finale of the first part, we mowed down a whole hospital of guys who were going to save the world, and now we are watching the same scene from the other side.
And from this flip side, we see a deep, realistic picture: killing was a tough decision for everyone. There was no secretly revealed evil at the end of the first game: this is a one-dimensional caricature. In reality, such a decision is fraught with tremendous agony, and this is convincingly conveyed. In the end, Abby herself pushes for murder: she says (the same thing that Ellie presented to Joel!): “If I were allowed to decide something about my own life, I would give it.”
But Joel rushes into the operation. Kills everyone. And Abby’s father too.
Okay, Neal, I got your idea. You want to show that the main antagonist is also human, she also has a legitimate motivation, and now we have to project on her all the emotions of Ellie that we had been carrying for 13 hours. And we must forgive Joel’s killer.
Fuck you, Mr. Drakman. This is low, I refuse to play this game with you. Yes, yes, “An eye for an eye and the whole world will walk with one eye,” I understand your stupid moralizing, goodbye, give me the credits.
Day 1. So stop, is this just the middle of the game ?!
And only then it starts to dawn on you. Neil, as if hearing your first reaction, politely says: “I understand that you had a huge emotional experience with those heroes and you remain on their side. Make yourself comfortable. I have prepared 13 more hours for you! “
Despite the inscription “Day 1”, which explains everything, you still hope for five hours that the segment is about to end. You refuse to believe that you will have to grumble for this unpleasant woman for three more days of play. But that’s exactly how it is! The director really wants you to play for this masculine mountain of muscles, and more than that, at some point you realize that Abby’s campaign is copying the first game in structure! We have experienced a traumatic intro, and now we are already walking through the base of the “Wolves”, which are located on the territory of the stadium.
Again: everything is so head-on, so intrusive. The idea is clear: you killed the members of this group for 13 hours, and here they are again in front of you, they are ordinary people. Your new friends. They build a household, take care of their own, respect their parents, and try to play Naughty Dog-style in a charming way. I get it, I get it, thanks for the pretentiousness, that’s enough, really. Oh, come on, also the dog that Ellie just hacked to death in the cutscene! She is cute and you can play with her ?! Are you fucking kidding me? (Well, yes, they do.)
Meanwhile, the structure of the original game continues to reproduce. We have an initial outing to get to know Abby’s friends, and Mag in particular. The same pregnant lady that Ellie killed four videos ago. (Well, okay, Drakman, here I agree, with Meg it turned out to be especially ugly.) It turns out that there is no unity among Joel’s killers: Abby is a little condemned, everyone is somehow embarrassed and ashamed and wants to forget everything connected with it.
Well, of course it starts now. No, Drakman. Simply no. Stop it.
The first sortie ends, Abby returns to the base and learns that her lover friend Owen seems to have killed one of his own, spared the evil enemy “scar” and disappeared. Now he is in disgrace and the Wolves are going to execute him. And Abby is convinced that this is a mistake and wants to understand the situation. Okay, writers, persuaded – this is an acceptable setting, I’m curious. Although Baba Abby is still unpleasant.
Day 2. Ok, that’s pretty cool.
We move towards the Oceanarium to our friend and get flashbacks that better reveal the heroine. Here it turns out one of the best twists in my memory (which, in fact, is not a twist, but this is how I perceived it).
Abby went crazy about killing Joel after he killed her father. She dedicated herself to finding leads and training to be “as ready as possible.” That’s why she’s the best killer of the Wolves. This is the only reason why it is “on the mass.” Her friend constantly urges: well, live for yourself, let’s skip your workouts! But she is totally against it. And we see how it literally sways from year to year.
Why I call it a twist: you thought it was just an ugly nasty lady, but Drakman went crazy and wanted to make more variety among the characters. But no. It is carefully explained to us that her appearance is not something normal, but a direct consequence of psychological trauma. This is a defense mechanism, an illustration of how she pushed people away from herself because of an overvalued idea.
When I realized this, all problems with Abby’s appearance disappeared altogether: now this is an important part of the plot and image. In my own way, I began to, if not sympathize with the heroine, then at least understand her better. In addition, Abby shows weaknesses (fear of heights), she plays different social roles and turns out to be a multi-layered character, and also – she gets involved in one of the best scenes in the game.
In the forest, in the middle of the night, Scars want to execute her (we saw this one of the first cinematics on TLoU). She is rescued by two children: a boy and a girl, and then together they run away from the crowd of infected. There are almost no such powerful scenes in the game before. (From Ellie’s campaign, I remember only one, and that is poorly substantiated by plot).
So, what have we got here? An adult who rescues children. Moreover, children, whom he does not want to save at all. The conflict is that these are two little “Scars”! And scars are enemies! And all the bastards. But Abby helps them and, reluctantly, is forced to see them as people. Yes, yes, Neal, I got the hint, leave me alone.
We leave the kids in a safe place and get to the Oceanarium where Abby’s ex-boyfriend, Owen, is hiding. And from him we learn another story, “humanizing enemies”: in the heat of the battle, one of the scarred grandfathers seemed to succumb and wanted to die himself, tired of the endless war. Owen could not stand it, felt sorry for his grandfather, got into a fight with his partner about this and accidentally killed him. The situation is so-so: Owen is indeed a traitor, it turns out.
Again the same theme: “On the other side, in fact, just people.” And you know, by this time I no longer have any special problems with Abby and with the heroes of this part of the story.
Day 3. Honestly, this is the best segment of the game.
Despite Joel’s murder, Abby still suffers from nightmares about her father’s death. And for some irrational reason, early in the morning, she goes back to retrieve the scarred children she left at night. To check that they are alive and that they were not killed by their own (they want, for some reason).
And then it dawns on you that The Last of Us Part 1 is slipping on you again! Let me remind you that there are two children: a boy Leo and a girl Yara. Yara’s hand is crushed, and Abby literally drags her to the Oceanarium on her hump. And when it becomes clear that the girl needs amputation, Abby and Leo risk their lives to find the right tools. Okay, Naughty Dog, I got a kick out of it. The best segment of the game revealed itself for me.
First, the dialogues begin to shine again: Leo has a clear characterization, he knows nothing about the real world, and Abby, laughing, teaches him. (Familiar, familiar.) At the same time, he is a cool character: a young warrior who … Oh, now it will be awkward.
Leo is a transgender girl. “He” speaks in a female voice, because “him” is voiced by a real transgender. And “his” Scars-cultists call “Lily”. They wanted to make “him” the bride of one of the elders. But “he” shaved his head like a man, which he has no right to do. And for this they want to kill “him”.
At this moment, I swear, the “subpoena” will tear half of the Internet’s seat. Not only because it is an overwhelmingly progressive plot, but also because it could be replaced by any other construction. If Ellie had not fallen in love with pregnant Dinah, the murder of pregnant Meg on the other hand would not have felt so acute. Abby’s looks are a great demonstration of her crazy idea. But Leo is simply “rejected”, and a million other reasons could be found for that.
But if such “artistic choices” do not bother you, then we get the best scenes of the entire game. First, a journey along secret paths between skyscrapers. And the descent through the skyscraper, completely overgrown with mushrooms. And then Abby gets to exactly that outpost, which after a couple of plot hours will clean up Ellie.
And now this is already very, very cool: we see every NPC that has walked around the location before! They are busy with peaceful affairs, lead an ordinary life, and one girl (remember, with PS Vita?) Is personalized, jokes and is clearly not going to die today. The whole logic of the game falls into place: it becomes clear, for example, why the enemies constantly shout each other’s names in battles. Plus, the best (only, ha!) Bossfight in the entire game.
When we return and amputate the arm, it turns out that today the Wolves are attacking Scars, so the brave little Lion will rush home to save Mom.
By this point, I had completely forgotten about Ellie’s line and did not think about Joel: I got a rich emotional journey during these three days. I was not given stupid or annoying characters, they have normal conflict, chemistry and emotional motivation. And most importantly, one of them is now risking his life to save his mother.
Isle of Scars does not require a detailed retelling, but goosebumps from my spine ask me to transfer the unequivocal prize for the most spectacular scene here. Here all the themes of the game unfold finally: we kill the dictator Isaac, and Abby has completely abandoned any “side” in favor of personal choice (oh, oh, like Joel). She kills her former friends, blinded by the dictatorship. She just wants to save Owen, Meg and go to a bright future …
But we know that we will return and see only the corpses that Ellie left. Okay Drakman, you won.
The climax. MASTERPIECE or FAILURE ?!
And here, friends, it all depends on whether you have accepted the rules of the game. Because the chances are very high that you are still holding your ground. You can still hate Abby, hate Druckman for his flat screenplay and the violence with which he tries to make you love Abby.
This is the whole artistic idea: it guides you through emotions, impressions, sincere motivations. He shows you the other side of the conflict in a way that no film can, corny, because of the timing. He makes you play for this character, and therefore, as it is fashionable to say “ludonarratively”, binds you to the heroine. He takes whatever time he needs, and at twenty-four, he returns to the very scene where Abby attacks Ellie. And forces you to personally kill Ellie.
Sweaty bossfight: proud of your girl! But the game leaves you no options: do you want to see how it ends? Play. Kill. You can’t just pick it up and turn it off. Wow, fingers just refuse to press the buttons when Abby kneads Ellie on the pavement, but you have to press, because a failed QTE is the end of the game. We’ll have to win, throw Ellie aside and put the knife to Dina’s throat.
“Wait, Abby, Dina is pregnant!” “Like Mag, great.” You have a complete mess in your head: Abby, damn it, really, “has every right”! The blade is about to cut the poor girl’s throat, but Leo intervenes: type, friend, well, you are completely crazy with this revenge, tie it up. Abby again makes a difficult face, understands the closed circle of violence, leaves Dina life. Get up and leave.
And you know what? At this peak point, I really fell in love with Abby, and for me she was completely equal in rights to Joel and Ellie. She does not look superfluous and far-fetched, her story is the most important part of Joel’s story. In three days, she went through several major changes and is now showing the most powerful emotional decision in life.
“Uuuuu, evil cicadas wanted to dissect a little girl!” From the height of the second part, it looks like a cartoon kindergarten, where there are good and bad. It is Abby’s line that adds real, very human depth to the finale of the last part.
A brilliant game, I thought. Amazing, I thought. But the credits still didn’t start.
Two years later. Hey, are you planning on ending ?!
Okay, this is just an epilogue, right? Ellie lives a happy, almost traditional family with Dina. Landscapes of incredible beauty, cozy life, dancing and smiles, and Joel is simply dead, unavenged, but we have already understood the moral.
Honestly, I was already quite comfortable here and I was waiting for the credits. But no: Ellie suffers from natural PTSD with panic attacks, she has not let go of anything or anyone. She still only dreams of Abby’s death.
And here is a slippery slope. The further into the forest, the more room for discussion. Surely half of the players will side with Ellie and fully approve of her decision to chase Abby again after two years. It’s understandable. You physically feel that the conflict is unresolved.
But personally, I experienced the exact opposite and completely awesome. Ellie (already an adult girl!), Abandons her family that needs her, again goes after Abby (who has spared her twice!). And this terrifying stupidity of Ellie is beginning to annoy me. She is wrong, she does not learn anything, she destroys the world around her … but why at all?
Another quest for revenge seems to be absolutely pointless (of course, if you, as a player, do not seek revenge with her). At the same time, we see Abby’s future: she safely devoted herself to something new and greater! She has learned the lesson and is preparing to join the ranks of the “New Cicadas”, which again want to change the world for the better.
Ellie, stop it.
But we still have a couple of hours of gameplay: Abby was captured by slavers. And Ellie, our once little girl, already looks like Sarah Connor, who emotionlessly mows cities down, striving for her goal.
It’s funny that in captivity of slavers Abby becomes a slender and quite attractive girl who simply does not recognize. This metamorphosis is not accidental: it has a plot explanation in the form of hunger and exhaustion from prolonged torture, but in fact it is just an excuse to organically present to us “New Abby”, free from her shell of endless revenge.
And while I was glad that Abby was reborn, Ellie put the knife to the Lion’s throat. “If you don’t fight me, I will kill him.” Well where ?! What an absurdity already, well enough!
In the final fight, where Ellie is trying to take revenge for some unknown reason, and Abby protects only the life of another person, it is physically difficult for you to press buttons and fight – you do not understand who you are rooting for, and why you should continue at all. It’s funny that the cutscene here is so similar to the gameplay that the loss in QTE (where Abby kills Ellie) you perceive as the ending of the game.
But no, the game has a different canon outcome. Ellie wins. She drowns and strangles Abby. And it’s hard to describe how I hated the heroine of the first game at that moment.
But thank God: Joel’s face flashed for a second. after 28 hours of playing (and two, which seem like an overkill), Ellie finally understands why she was constantly trying to take revenge, releases her grip on Abby’s neck and falls to her knees in tears.
In a string of flashbacks, it becomes clear that the roots of the problem (as with Abby) were deeper than just “You killed Joel.” This motivation was a sophisticated self-deception: the desire for revenge was a sense of guilt that Ellie had never forgiven Joel for saving her own life.
She pushed him away for years (!) After finding out the truth. She repulsed the person closest to her, and literally a day before that she insulted him for the last time. Abby didn’t just kill Joel – she left Ellie with a perpetual sense of understatement. Which, perhaps, will never be filled with anything.
The structure of the game itself becomes clear: when we enter Joel’s house at the very beginning, we see how a person’s life passed, which we missed. But in fact, this is exactly what Ellie was experiencing – she, too, moved away from him as much as possible, and now she can never make up. A lump comes to my throat just when I rewrite this story.
Titles. The best game of the generation.
I do not impose my highest assessment of The Last Of Us 2 on anyone: most likely, your perception will be different, you will place accents in the story in your own way, and you will interpret emotional moments differently.
But there are several things with which, in my opinion, it is impossible to argue.
● You need to have huge eggs in order to set yourself the task: “Let’s kill everyone’s favorite hero, and then make everyone fall in love with the killer.”
● The second part at times deepens the problems of the first. This is a “true” sequel, which rakes the consequences of the original, and brings both parts, as a sum, to a completely different semantic level.
● The structure of the game should be kept in complete secrecy, because the realization “It was only the middle of the road” is one of the most difficult moments of the game. And if you know that the fake ending “lived happily ever after” is fake, you will not experience it as intended.
And the most amazing thing is that only after a complete picture of the plot do you understand that you need to go through the game in one gulp a second time, immediately! After all, then the puzzle of omissions will be assembled from the very beginning, and you will perceive Ellie’s campaign completely differently! From the very first scenes you will not hate Abby, and perhaps you will experience even more from the game.
But unfortunately, Dina’s armpits cannot be seen. Let’s discuss them in the comments!
Source: The Verge