The Last of Us Part II reveals the truth behind revenge

The reason for violence parallels realistic truths.Illustration: Rigby Guerrero · The Sentry

A blend of  horror and dramatic storytelling

(Minor spoilers ahead)

The reason for violence parallels realistic truths.
Illustration: Rigby Guerrero · The Sentry

In the apocalyptic setting of The Last of Us Part II, set five years after the original in 2039, the mutated undead are the least dangerous things lurking in the shadows. Told through the point of view of multiple characters, the story twists and turns down a path of revenge, loss, and a seemingly inescapable cycle of violence. This game has been anticipated for years, and it does not disappoint in its execution.

This game not only gives the player a terrifying experience, it also grinds their emotional stability down until they are fighting zombies through tears. In an interview given to The Washington Post, co-director and co-writer Neil Druckman stated, “I landed on this emotional idea of, can we, over the course of the game, make you feel this intense hate that is universal in the same way that unconditional love is universal?” Violence only leads to violence, and this story shows its players how addicting this cycle can be. Main characters Ellie and Abby are pitted against each other in a loop of revenge which started in the first game and only ends up causing themselves and the people around them hurt.

New to the game are a smattering of new characters with big personalities. Not only does Ellie finally gain some friends her own age, but she is now given a love interest. An important aspect of this relationship is that neither woman dies, making it one of the few pieces of media that contains an LGBTQ+ relationship where they last the length of the game together. The character ensemble is large and diverse, with even the minor characters feeling well-written and thought out.

The largest and most undeserving critique of the game is that the player spends half the game playing as the antagonist of the story. While many people do not wish to feel empathy for this character, it was Druckman’s goal to tell the audience a story of almost senseless violence and empty revenge.  Ellie’s character goes through a change of relentless anger to finally letting go of past events she cannot control. The players who felt robbed of a ‘final boss battle’ seemed to have missed the message entirely. The point of The Last of Us is to show how humanity has evolved decades after the fall of society, where people are no longer lashing out over scarce resources. Rather, they cause violence for the same reason violence is caused today: a difference in opinion and method.

This game has options for all, including a range of difficulty settings, and a wide range of accessibility options for those who are hard of seeing or hard of hearing. The Last of Us Part II not only brings a new way to play for every type of gamer, it also has a storyline that is just as heart-wrenching as the first.

The game shows the raw and unsatisfying truth behind revenge whereas other apocalyptic games might give the player the satisfaction of defeating the “bad guy.” Druckman truly wished to tell the story of people going through hard times, fighting for their people and what they believe is right. This gaming experience is one no one will soon forget.

This article is a selection from the Aug. 26 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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