As I wrote in my previous article, this hot and long Summer has really hampered my ability to sit down and write about games, so this review about TLoU-II is coming out really late. Yet, nothing is so bad that it is not good for something, as they say, so I am pretty confident that who really wanted to play this game already did it while all the rest won’t, so I can safely write my post without worrying about SPOILERS. If you are planning to play this game later on please stop reading here. You have been warned!
TLoU-II is the second (and possibly last) game in this franchise since most of its protagonists have been killed, crippled, or left with a handful of flies. As I wrote years ago on these very pages, this is a history of violence that kept getting worse as (game)time passed. Set in a post-pandemic world that left the mankind vulnerable against an incurable illness (how weird to write about something like that now, don’t you think?), the original game followed our hero Joel in his journey to escort young Ellie (an immune youngster) toward a remote hospital in search for a cure. When at the end of the game we learn that the surgery on the patient would kill Ellie we, as Joel, are left with no choice but to kill the entire medical team in order to save Ellie’s life since during such journey Ellie actually took the place of a former daughter in our heart. Four years have passed from that day and Joel still hasn’t told Ellie the truth but, sensing that something was really wrong, Ellie now lives her life by herself, almost totally excluding Joel.
Sadly, things soon change in the worst way when Ellie is accidentally forced to witness Joel’s brutal murder, killed in cold blood for revenge by the daughter of the surgeon who was about to operate on Ellie years before.
And so Ellie’s new adventure starts, now together with her fiance Dina, towards the city of Seattle, home of the World Liberation Front (codenamed WLF, as in Wolf) to which Abbie (our nemesis) is connected.
Unlike the first game, this second part explores in deep detail the reasons of both parts and, with them, the ins and outs of a deranged society that keeps getting worse year by year instead of getting at least a little bit better. The lack of a cure has left everyone with no hope and trying to survive despite anything else: too bad that this tension for survival does not take into account mercy, pity, or general care for the other human beings.
After a very intense prologue, in which you will be playing both in the shoes of Ellie and Abbie and you will witness the brutal assassination, the game will let you play a long story plot where Ellie (sometimes together with Dina) will explore Seattle surroundings in search of Abbie, a journey that will virtually last 3 days. Many people will die in both parts during this period, after which you will spend the next 3 (again, virtual) days playing as Abbie and learning her reason for doing what she did.
Compared to the first game this second chapter seems to focus much more on characters introspection, clearly defining a world where no one is immune from violence but where no one is totally wrong or totally right either (if we exclude the Seraphite Cult whose members, after the death of their Founder and Mother, have misinterpreted her message thus turning the Cult into the worst fanatic group in Northern America). Even Abbie, as strange as it may seem, is not totally wrong. Sure she committed a cold blood murder, but in such a world Joel probably deserved it, since his past actions most likely doomed the entire mankind to live forever without a cure against a deadly pandemic. Of course, I am not endorsing any kind of violence here; I’m just stating that the one you see in the game has (not always, but for the most part) a “logical” explanation.
From my point of view (you are more than allowed to disagree) the game then ends in the worst way: an intense aftermath almost causes the death of Ellie (or Abbie, if you fell in love with her character), but everything for Ellie is surely lost. Once she comes home nobody will be there waiting for here: not Joel (obviously), who probably was not revenged; not Joel’s brother (who almost lost his life and, most likely, lost his wife after trying to get his revenge by himself); not her fiance Dina and, with her, the rest of the family. On the other hand, killing Joel resulted in Abbie losing all her friends and lover (they all got killed by Ellie). Also, disobeying direct orders to do a good deed (trying to save an innocent life that was anyway lost a few hours later) resulted in Abbie near death sentence and a permanent ban from the WLF group.
Nearly a month after completing the game I still cannot decide if I really liked it or not and if it turned out the way it should have. From a technical standpoint it is absolutely clear that, once again, Naughty Dog seems not to have any rival in the gaming business: everything, from the hyper-realistic physics and graphic to the sound experience, is probably well above the state of the art. TLoU-II is a game second to none, yet … was it all necessary? All the violence, the greed, the fanaticism, and the wanton destruction. Was it really necessary? For once in my life, I cannot really tell, so I decided not to give a score to this game. I do prefer you to play it and you judge it from yourself: whichever the result may be, I can assure you it will be an unforgettable experience.
So, after the first PS3 chapter and the PS4 present one (come out 7 years later), will we witness a third chapter on PS5? Or will this episode be the end of the franchise? It is for sure too early to tell so, in the meantime, let’s just keep enjoying this game and let’s hope that the incoming multiplayer experience will be at least at the same, superb level, of the original one.Follow Us... Inspire Us To Get Better... Keep The Flame Alive