(Spoiler Alert: Contains plots from The Last Of Us and The Last Of Us: Left Behind)
I’m not a fan of DLCs, because in my strangest opinion a DLC means that you need to spend an extra chunk of your money for a game that you’ve already bought in all glory. With the digital age seeping into nearly everything, DLCs are a fashion, as one of the biggest fan driven game developers (yes you, Naughty Dog) decided to go for a DLC, for the very first time. The Last Of Us may have won everything that they could, but what they righteously won is my heart along with thousands of others who’ve played the game, bled and cried with it. The DLC had to be so good, not just spinning tenners on every review piece, but giving the fans of the game a true prelude to the heart wrenching post apocalyptic theme of The Last Of Us.
With Left Behind, The Last Of Us’ DLC #2, Naughty Dog went a mark further in my notion, as a company that crafts movies in the name of games, novels in the shape of game chapters. Left Behind starts at the University, immediately after Joel falls off the balcony and nearly bleeds himself to death. We start with the Ellie that we know, riding Tommy’s horse and taking shelter under an abandoned mall. The mall becomes the storyteller in Left Behind, strategically shifting you back and forth from the times Ellie rode with Riley (her best friend) to the times she had to save Joel. With Gustavo Santaolalla’s music creating the highs and lows, the good times and bad times in between.
The Last Of Us: Left Behind may be an expensive outfit considering its Rs. 900 MRP for India and only lasting 2 hours. But it’s like what Riley says in the end of Left Behind, you need to fight for every minute you spend with someone, only then would you know the worth of holding on to something. Left Behind’s potential is that of a Bioshock Infinite and Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. And it’s only a DLC. It successfully stitches some parts of the untold story of The Last Of Us, filling in with memories and real emotions, that drive you to save Joel from dying and stop Riley from leaving with the Fireflies. The mall has been perfectly etched, with motivated level designing. The unique style of The Last Of Us (especially the hide and seek strategy) comes back. There are specks of incredible art direction in every scene and frame, and you wish you could just stand in front of the mall entrance all day, looking at the strangled helicopter laying low.
Ellie has more ranting than any character could’ve ever had in this DLC, Ashley Johnson doing a phenomenal role, yet again fitting into the shoes of this foul tongued teenager. There are sequences that tell the adolescence of two girls lost in the whirls of an apocalypse, in a very heart warming way. The scenes inside the Halloween Store, the Carousel Ride, most of the main game emotions come back and hit you like the Joel-Sarah or Joel-Ellie sequences. The fact that we don’t get to interact with Joel at all doesn’t seem to upset my Troy Baker fandom. In every step, in every motivation, it is Joel’s life and death that plays the most important role. Whether she is evading a bunch of infected to reach the helicopter or fighting her way out of a garage, Ellie has Joel’s name on her lips, all the time. And this belongingness is well justified by the other half of the DLC, i.e. Ellie’s relationship with Riley.
For all those who purchased the Ellie or Joel edition of the game may have read through the Dark Horse Comics version of The Last Of Us Prelude, the game is somewhat based on the same storyline as the comics. Riley, a long lost friend wakes Ellie up at the dead of the night, to take her out on an expedition before she leaves with the Fireflies, a rebel group. Ellie’s tragic life gets a nod in the DLC, as we walk through the sad world of The Last Of Us, until both Riley and Ellie fall prey to an infected attack. And that’s how the real TLOU starts.
Riley is shown to be a Marlene in the making, a little less on the emotions (unlike Ellie) but pretty much fiery with guns. In other words, she does a great job replacing Joel in this chapter of The Last Of Us. As gamers play the role of Ellie, Riley takes the lead and shows places that is pure enchantment for children of the apocalypse, like a broken video game parlour, or a photo booth. Keep your Facebook connected while you play The Last Of Us and there will be a surprise you would love to see on your wall later on.
Neil Druckmann was in complete control of the prelude chapter of The Last Of Us. The game seamlessly stitches missing links and upsets the gamer by the end of his 2 hour round. There is chaos and peace, war and love, all running through the story. The unique love between the two leading ladies is another way to justify Ellie’s unique character as a woman to be. There is apocalypse on the streets as well as in your heart. And as you hit the last scene of the last chapter, prepare to get all drenched up in tears again. The DLC starts off by forcing you to think that it was Joel who was Left Behind, but in the end, Ellie’s immunity to the infection makes her the Left Behind, in the world where everyone she cared for either leaves her, or dies.
In this infectious capitalistic age, here’s me hoping to see more AAA fun, especially in The Last Of Us Part 2, from the foremost company who are capable of keeping the flag flying high.