A Defense for The Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us Part II is beginning to look like it will not only be the most controversial game of this generation, but possibly one of the most controversial games of all time. Almost every aspect of this game seems to be drawing either love or hatred from the fanbase with almost no one’s opinion falling in-between.

There is one very simple reason for this fact and that is that Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, released in 2013, was widely praise and whole-heartedly accepted by nearly everyone that played it as one of the best games to ever be made. Such love and devotion can only breed an equal amount of hatred if someone were to feel betrayed by it, and it is apparent that many people do feel that way. Interestingly, it is this exact same point that Naughty Dog was attempting to make with the story of their sequel.

There are many controversies surrounding this game even beyond the polarizing story and I would like to take a moment and defend as many as I have seen. I am not choosing to defend this game out of my own self-interest or out of some secretive affiliation with Naughty Dog themselves, but rather in the hopes that someone who had previously written this game off as terrible because of the early leaks or its many undeserved zeros (and tens) on Metacritic will see this game for what it actually is.

In order to do this I will say right up front that, although I will do my best to keep them to a minimum, some spoilers are absolutely necessary to show you the true nature of the experience that awaits you in this game.

If you are not someone on the fence about playing this game or if you have any interest whatsoever in going into this game without its main story beats or major themes spoiled for you, LEAVE THIS PAGE NOW! You have been warned.

I am going to address four of the major issues that I have found that people have with this game, both from professional gaming sites and from negative individual reviews I have come across. If you wish to, you can use the table of contents below to jump down to any area of controversy that might be affecting you personally.

Issue #1: The Story is Just a Front for the Far-Left Liberal Agenda.

A curious amount of individual reviews that I have read claim that Abby, a new character in the game, is a trans character that the player is forced to play as and also that the game tries to force you to like her on equal footing with Ellie. One of two things is true about those reviewers. They either A: Did not actually play the game like they claimed they did, or B: They did not actually play the game like they claimed they did.

Abby is not a trans character in any way. As a matter of a fact, she is shown to be quite the opposite at various points throughout the story. From the trailers of the game or from the early leaks that were available before release one might have assumed that given her muscular appearance for a woman, but those muscles actually do serve a purpose in the story beyond what you might already know. She did not see herself as strong enough to stop a tragedy from happening in her life and wants to ensure that it will never happen again. She is a woman in a world surrounded by warriors and simply does her best to be a part of it all.

There are LGBTQ characters present in this game however, one of which should not come as a surprise since fans have known it for almost 7 years. As someone who watches carefully for over-pushed and under-thought far-left liberal agendas in any media I might try to enjoy, I can honestly say that any short-comings you might find in this game will not be due to that.

There is a new character in this game, however, whose decisions and motivations are based around their perceived sexuality. Although this particular story beat is actually very small and only serves to set up part of your characters journey, it is still present and therefore worth noting.

Issue #2: Certain Enemy Factions are a Direct Attack on Christianity.

As a devout Christian and actual follower of Christ and what he taught us, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that, although there are slight similarities in the vernacular and setup of the cult-like enemy group called the Seraphites to modern day Christianity, I do not believe that it was an attack on us personally at all.

One of the characters in the game even makes a reference to how “the new regime doesn’t actually follow the teachings of the Prophet” and that resonated with me a lot. There are many people out there who use the name of Christ to sew hatred in the world amongst people they disagree with and that just isn’t what true Christianity is.

I myself will oftentimes find that, even though I do not agree with the lifestyle or actions of a particular person, I can still love them and be kind to them in the exact same way that Christ would have. Hatred of people should serve no part in true Christianity and so therefore I have absolutely no problem with the underlying message that one might perceive here.

Issue #3: The Brutal Violence in this Game is Beyond Acceptable Limits.

This game is extremely violent, no bones about it (because they are all broken) and it does absolutely nothing to shy away from it. Realistic decapitations, limb removals, burning flesh, and accompanying screams are all par for the course here (pun absolutely intended!). All of it serves to remind you of the brutal cost that often comes with blindly seeking vengeance and it works to great effect.

This might be the one area of controversy that I actually agree with but that I also have an incredibly simple solution for: Just don’t play it. There are hundreds if not thousands of other games released over the last several years that are more than acceptable by everyone’s standards and are available now to play. Go knock yourself out! (this pun also intended.)

Issue #4: The Story Ruins Everything that I Loved About the First Game.

The story of such an interactive experience is a difficult thing to defend with a simple pen and paper article but I will do my best.

Our perception of Joel and Ellie as characters and as friends to each other is based on a long journey across the United States in which we spent most of that time together. Every decision that they made, good or bad, was justified in our minds because we see them as the good guys of our story.

This sequel is truly about making you realize that people are people no matter what your pre-conceived notions of them are. No heroes. No villains. Only people who oftentimes are just doing whatever they feel is necessary to ensure their own safety or happiness or that of their loved ones.

This story is how it would actually go in a real world situation and that has turned many people off who had just been looking for an escape from real world situations, especially right now.

Many of the characters of this game make stupid and impulsive decisions that don’t seem believable at first, but the more time you spend thinking about how you have made some of those dumb decisions, the more plausible they become. There is a reason for the saying, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

They weren’t trying to paint Joel and Ellie as “bad” and they weren’t trying to paint Abby and her friends as “good”, they were simply trying to show you that if you had played the first game as Abby, all the roles of the sequel would have been reversed.

If I had any actual complaint about the story it would be in its resolution. There were a handful of different ways that I believe the story could have wrapped up in a manner that would have really driven home the point that “forgiveness is better than revenge”, but none of them are to be found here.

It is not a story that is necessarily meant to be enjoyed, much in the same way that Shakespearean tragedies are not meant to be “enjoyed” but rather reflected upon and considered. Even now, a few days after I have finished it, I know that it will be something that will stick with me for a long time.

Adam Rahn

From the moment I could pick up the controller of my family's Super Nintendo I have developed a deep and continuous passion for the world of gaming. From narrative-driven adventures to sprawling open worlds, my love for the medium has only grown with every new title on the horizon!

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