If you know anything about TLOF, you are aware that this game is not smooth or subtle. Quite the opposite. It’s an intense and raw experience that dives deep into emotions and psychology. Therefore, it was impossible to expect any less from the second part, which we waited for with such eagerness.
But we weren’t prepared for this. No. I am still not ready to accept what happened. That plot twist was brutal, heartbreaking, and for many, too much. As the game has been out for some time now, most players and fans are familiar with what happened. Those who are not and prefer to keep the mystery, spoilers will follow.
There is no more the duo we loved so much and rooted for their survival. Joe was brutally killed. Ellie is the last of them. It's his murder that will escalate a new wave of violence and start our favorite’s girl next journey. - The journey of revenge.
Although the things spiral out of control sooner than we wanted, we do get to see a glimpse of hope in Ellie’s and Joel’s life. The game starts with a new home they found in Jackson, a town that managed to stay safe from the infected and gather the survivors. However, the danger is still roaming around. The community is aware of this jeopardy, and they are still patrolling to ensure that everything is fine. But sadly, some people relaxed with time, and let the evil walk among them.
It’s a kind of evil that’s been waiting for a long time, and it will break their world. And it will break you too. You will forget that this is just a video game and that you can pause at any time. Joel’s death will overwhelm you, and you will feel Ellie’s pain. Thus, you will experience it to the point of feeling that you don’t own your control anymore.
Nevertheless, it’s the event that broke Ellie and took her innocence. She will embark on a bloody quest to find and finish those who killed Joel. But during this vengeance, she will lose more than she expected. The curious girl who was still bubbly despite the roughness of the world that surrounds her will be gone. With every monster and person she kills, she will cease to be that innocent hero we used to know before.
The road will take Ellie to Seattle, and she is not alone. There is a new companion called Dina, and Ellie is very fond of her. Besides being introduced to this new character, we also meet Abbie, who can be considered as the main villain. But it’s actually hard to hate Abbie, who is also responsible for Joel’s death. We got to see her story overlapping with Ellie’s. They are both hurt and traumatized, each following their own journey.
Skipping the story for a bit, we also need to note that although the game is visually astonishing and realistic, the gameplay and the mechanics didn’t change or evolve much. Indeed, there are new weapons, diverse characters, and interesting enemies, but the game can get repetitive at times. Naughty Dog gave it all into crafting a deep and engaging plot. However, it’s where the novelty of gameplay suffers. Even the AI can feel too naive sometimes, and you will be able to kill a bunch of villains without anyone noticing.
Still, exploring this new world of Seattle is satisfying and often more entertaining than the combats. Thus, the fights and battles can feel exaggerated for some players, but we get the point. The developers want us to question violence and to feel the consequences of our decisions. Ellie for sure did. But that still doesn’t make me feel comfortable killing dogs or characters who have friends desperately looking for them. It’s devastating, and sometimes it feels like you simply need a break from this cruel world.
The flaws don’t minimize the greatness of this masterpiece
TLOF2 goes where most video games don’t dare to or can’t manage to go. It cripples you with fear, and it makes your throat feeling dry and tight. Your palms will sweat, you might feel nausea and tears. Doesn’t that make this game more than just a piece of entertainment?
If something manages to move every emotional string and cause loud critics and attention, it did something right. And this is a masterpiece that does so many things right, even when they are wrong. It depicts harsh and bloody violence, but it never loses the point. Sure, some characters demanded more attention and work, but this flaw doesn’t minimize all the effort and creativity.
When all these details come together, they give us a video game that isn’t perfect, but it fits our world so well. It’s aggressive, but if we turn it off, the violence will still be there. And the flawed characters will still suffer for what they did. But that makes it so much closer to real life.