Video Game the Storyteller: The Last of Us Part 2 (The Leaks & The Release)

There will be no leaks in this post

To not waste anyone’s time, this is not a review. That’ll probably come along next week.

This is a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while and it was meant to be released in a different medium… but due to all that’s happening, I couldn’t get the other medium running in time to cover this topic as I wanted it.

But as most people reading this may already know, The Last of Us: Part 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the widely acclaimed PlayStation 3 title, The Last of Us, was extensively leaked last month.

Following the leak there were lawsuits filed, quarantined fans pickling in their homes going into panic mode, and the creators of the game engaging in full damage control.

If you missed it, you missed a great little internet fiesta full of unreasonably vitriolic rage by those who hated what they saw and painstaking shielding by emotionally distressed die-hard fans who did their darnedest to cover their ears and eyes from the leaks.

Memes were everywhere but this is only one of the few I can share without spoilers.

I ended up basically seeing the leaks thanks to the magic of YouTube algorithm recommending it to me… because I had searched for The Last of Us: Part 2 in the past.

But you know what?

I didn’t really care. And this post, which isn’t going to be very long, is going to try to explain why.

A video game as a storytelling device differentiates itself from other devices by having incorporating game play as part of how it tells its stories.

Obviously, some games do it better than others, but with how video games have developed through the years it’s becoming more and more of a common place to see what players do is integral part of the video game’s story telling experience.

That’s why, The Last of Us, the original game impressed me so much and I still consider it one of the best video game storytelling experiences I’ve ever had.

Having to scrape for scarce resources made me feel the desperation of the characters and the world I was in. Making the choice to either take the violent path or the more pacifistic path made me feel like I had some control over the morality of the circumstances I was given. The brutality of some killings I had to do made me feel the weight of the choices I’ve made. And, most importantly to the plot, having to guide and protect my teen compatriot, Ellie, not only made me feel more attached to the character but at times made those brutal killings feel completely guilt-free and justified.

I was just protecting a young girl from an insane world.

When a game is done right, it’s gameplay doesn’t tell you how the gameplay is telling you the story but makes you feel it, control it⁠—directly experience it. That’s something movies and books cannot do.

NaughtyDog, the company behind, The Last of Us, proved to me that they were masters in utilizing video games to tell a story.

Did it have its flaws? Of course.

But was it the closest I felt to feeling like a game using its identity to the fullest to tell a story? Absolutely.

So what did the leaks do exactly?

Far as I’m concerned, it told me only the half of the story. Maybe even less than that of experiencing the story. And given the achievement NaughtyDog has made with the previous title, I’m willing to pay the ticket of admission to see the other half.

I want to see how the story goes from A to B to C and how I’ll experience it getting to those junctures.

Lets see the rest of the story. Let me experience it the way it was supposed to be experienced.

Not watched via YouTube.

Not read on an internet forum.

But played. With the choices made by me, as a player.

But at the end of the day, it’s tough times. It’s your money. Do what feels right for you. I just wanted to point out I don’t think the leaks discredited The Last of Us: Part 2‘s entire experience nor even its storytelling.

I do have some reservations about The Last of Us: Part 2 but it’s the same reservations I had since I saw the first trailers for it.

It feels like the theme and the tone of the game will be much darker and much more violent than before.

And given the current climate, I’m not sure if that’s how I want to spend my free time.

(And I hope if they did go that route, the story and experience will justify all of it. Otherwise, that kind of direction tend to come off teenage-y at worst and distasteful at its best)

I’ve recently got a Nintendo Switch and played a Pokemon game for the first time in many, many years.

It was simple, childish, clean, and a lot of fun.

There was that ever-so-nice romanticized brightness to life found in kids-oriented-media in the game where everything ends up working out and no matter how dark things get, there’s still some sort of warmth to the world because it’s coded with the idea that “it’ll never get that bad“.

And you know what? That was nice. It was a nice break. Sue me.

This idiot actually became quite endearing and ended up demonstrating some complex growth and human experience without having had to resort putting the idiot through mature themed circumstances. That should probably be a topic for discussion sometime. Mature themes isn’t a qualification or necessity to discuss mature topics. Often, mature themes are used out of banality and/or laziness.

By the time this goes live, I’ll probably be on my way to pick up my iced Americano, a sandwich, and The Last of Us: Part 2 from my local game store.

I hope NaughtyDog won’t let me down but I don’t think I’ll regret having given them a shot. They’ve earned it.

…Did… did you guys think this would end with Pokemon? Because I sure as hell didn’t.

ARAMIRU OUT

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