Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Short and Sweet, The Last of Us: Left Behind is Exactly What It ShouldBe

The Last of Us is an incredible game. From the addictive game play that had me scouring every corner of the map to the emotional highs and lows of the story, this game has easily made it's way into my top 5 games of all time. I have such a personal bias to this game that I consciously chose not to write a review on it, as I couldn't be impartial. Now the DLC (Download Chapter, as Neil Druckmann prefers to say) is out, and I'm falling in love all over again. As this is not a true game and I am still incredibly biased towards this game, I will not write a proper review, but I will give you some of my impressions on the download chapter.

Friends to the End
Left Behind puts you in the shoes of Ellie before she meets Joel. The entire premise revolves around Ellie running into her friend Riley, who has disappeared for 45 days. After sneaking into the orphanage and scaring Ellie half to death, the two go on a small adventure into a nearby mall. The story is loosely based off of the comic American Dreams that released shortly after the main game last year, but is very different in style and execution.

With Ellie being the driving force of the game, game play and story are fairly different than the main campaign, but still very much in the same vein. You still will have to seek out supplies, craft items and take out enemies, but as Ellie, which leads to it's own limitations, making the game feel so familiar yet so different at the same time. Even in sections I knew were simply story driven, I found myself falling back into my old routine of scouring each level while trying to get all the optional conversations and keep up with Riley. These combat driven sections are also much less emphasized, and rightfully so, because the story is what drives the chapter.  Despite this shift, fans of the original will feel right at home.
Still Full of Magical Moments
Combat also has a new aspect added to it. By making some noise with a well placed throw of a brick or bottle, players can now pit groups of humans and infected against each other to thin out the enemies Ellie will have to take on. This small addition is incredibly satisfying, especially on the harder difficulties when you could use all the help you can get.

As much fun as the combat is in Left Behind, the story it tells is what really makes it a worthy addition to the franchise. The story is very different from the main campaign, but it's that reason alone that it hits so hard. Seeing a more vulnerable side of Ellie is welcome, especially since she is acting more 'herself' around Riley, who is her age and also a good friend compared to Joel, who is more like a father figure to her. There isn't too much that can be said because the story is full of so many small surprises that I would hate to ruin it for anyone willing to play. Suffice it to say that the story is different, but in all the best ways possible.

My total completion time was a little over 3 hours, and for the $15 it is totally worth it. If you are a fan of the game looking for more, dive in. Don't even think about it. Don't even finish reading this sentence. Go. It is worth it.

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