log in or register to remove this ad

 

Last of Us 2 discussion

I have many problems with this game, but I'll start and end with these two things:

1) It made me feel exactly like watching Alien 3 again. Ripley (my favorite character of all time) had absolutely everything taken from her...and the story that spun out of it could not have been less emotionally or theatrically compelling.

2) If you're making The Last of Us 2, your very first creative meeting must be utterly centered around 1 question and 1 question only:

"How do we make a sequel that doesn't answer the deeply provocative question that the original game saddles you with (in a world that lays bare the absolutely abomination that humanity will devolve to in such an apocalypse, is it reasonable to sacrifice a beautiful, utterly worthwhile creature in order to have a shot at salvaging the monstrous vestige of humanity...or...did Joel make the right decision)?"

If you answer that question, you've erred terribly.

If you answer that question emphatically with such decisiveness so as to leave no possible interpretation...you've essentially burned your creative legacy on a pyre of your own staggering misjudgement or comprehension of what emotionally compelled/provoked TLoU to its ascendent status.

Simply put, if you cannot make a sequel that fundamentally stays away from answering that question...don't make a sequel.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I have many problems with this game, but I'll start and end with these two things:

1) It made me feel exactly like watching Alien 3 again. Ripley (my favorite character of all time) had absolutely everything taken from her...and the story that spun out of it could not have been less emotionally or theatrically compelling.

2) If you're making The Last of Us 2, your very first creative meeting must be utterly centered around 1 question and 1 question only:

"How do we make a sequel that doesn't answer the deeply provocative question that the original game saddles you with (in a world that lays bare the absolutely abomination that humanity will devolve to in such an apocalypse, is it reasonable to sacrifice a beautiful, utterly worthwhile creature in order to have a shot at salvaging the monstrous vestige of humanity...or...did Joel make the right decision)?"

If you answer that question, you've erred terribly.

If you answer that question emphatically with such decisiveness so as to leave no possible interpretation...you've essentially burned your creative legacy on a pyre of your own staggering misjudgement or comprehension of what emotionally compelled/provoked TLoU to its ascendent status.

Simply put, if you cannot make a sequel that fundamentally stays away from answering that question...don't make a sequel.

They didnt answer that question though.

They just examined the consequences of the decision made; on both Joel, Ellie and on other people.
 

Your takeaway from the playing of and the results of that game was that it was “an examination” of Joel’s decision and the fallout (on everyone involved) and not “as thorough a condemnation as one could conceive?”

Wow.

That begs the question:

What exactly then, would a condemnation look like in your eyes?

EDIT - I'm baffled here. This isn't an emergent story that happened by accident. This is complete authorial intent and trajectory and fallout. You cited the thematic centerpiece in your lead-post; "Violence begets violence." Ghandi did this long before Naughty Dog.

You literally cannot make "Violence begets violence (ad infinitum)" the centerpiece of TLoU2, have all of the heavy-handed empathy moves made in that game, and all of the extreme fallout of that game without fundamentally answering the question at the heart of TLoU.

I truly have no idea how a person would start (from first principles) to begin to contest otherwise.
 
Last edited:

Your takeaway from the playing of and the results of that game was that it was “an examination” of Joel’s decision and the fallout (on everyone involved) and not “as thorough a condemnation as one could conceive?”

Wow.

That begs the question:

What exactly then, would a condemnation look like in your eyes?

Was the decision condemned though? Ellie struggled with it before telling him she wants to forgive him for it, Joel stated that he would do the exact same thing again if he was faced with the same choice, his brother seemed to agree with it as well. Even flashbacks to Marleene showed her putting the Q to Abbys father 'What if where your own daughter?'

You cant murder a bunch of people, and doom humanity to the Zombie apocalypse without there being some kind of fallout or ramifications from that action.
 

Was the decision condemned though? Ellie struggled with it before telling him she wants to forgive him for it, Joel stated that he would do the exact same thing again if he was faced with the same choice, his brother seemed to agree with it as well. Even flashbacks to Marleene showed her putting the Q to Abbys father 'What if where your own daughter?'

You cant murder a bunch of people, and doom humanity to the Zombie apocalypse without there being some kind of fallout or ramifications from that action.

I think you should start with your last sentence above.

Contrast the difference between "some kind of fallout" and the sort of complete and irrevocable fallout that TLoU2 wrought on (a) the protagonists of the 1st game, (b) the things/people/newfound ideas they love and hold dear in a brutal world that resists love/connection/healing/redemption/purpose, and (c) our conception of the themes of redemption, love, purpose and healing (set against a backdrop of abject horror and inhumanity) that the initial game was deeply invested in.

Playing TLoU felt a lot like some kind of combination of reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and watching Aliens. This game felt like (because it was) the franchise's intentional (and intentionally provocative) unraveling of its thematic connection to those two works (and therefore its connection to its original work).

I remain curious what a full condemnation might look like as a metaplot and thematic ballast for TLoU2 (if this wasn't it).
 

I think you should start with your last sentence above.

Contrast the difference between "some kind of fallout" and the sort of complete and irrevocable fallout that TLoU2 wrought on (a) the protagonists of the 1st game, (b) the things/people/newfound ideas they love and hold dear in a brutal world that resists love/connection/healing/redemption/purpose, and (c) our conception of the themes of redemption, love, purpose and healing (set against a backdrop of abject horror and inhumanity) that the initial game was deeply invested in.

Playing TLoU felt a lot like some kind of combination of reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and watching Aliens. This game felt like (because it was) the franchise's intentional (and intentionally provocative) unraveling of its thematic connection to those two works (and therefore its connection to its original work).

There was no redemption in the first game though. Joel didnt redeem anyone or anything; he made a selfish decision (born out of love) to save his surrogate daughter from death... by engaging in mass murder, and dooming the entire world to the Zombie apocalypse.

Joel didn't finish part 1 redeemed. He finished part 1 as a mass murderer who denied humanity a cure to the zombie apocalypse dooming everyone.
 

What exactly then, would a condemnation look like in your eyes?

Well, Abby is Joel, basically. So we're presented with another character who does something very similar to what Joel did - commit murder for the sake of someone they loved.

We (probably) see Abby as the villain.

Do we also see Joel as a villain? If not, why not?

It's not saying, "Joel is a villain for what he did in the first game."

It's saying, "If you are okay with what Joel did in the first game, why aren't you okay with what Abby does in the second game to Joel? How do you feel about being presented the other side of the situation?"

And as Flamestrike says, Elly tries to forgive Joel, and at the end she tries to forgive Abby.

So I don't see TLOU2 condemning Joel, not at all.

---

What would a full condemnation look like? It would look like Ellie finding out Joel did what he did, and then her rounding up a posse including Tommy, and all of them hunting down and eventually killing Joel, and then going to the Fireflies, where Ellie hands herself over to be experimented on for the sake of saving humanity. It would pretend that Ellie could act completely selflessly, and that everyone would recognize Joel as a villain.

That's not what we got.

Instead, we got something that's left me stewing in the implications for days. It's about not simply condemning violence, but about trauma, and recognizing ourselves in others, and about how love and empathy is how we make sense of the world, not violence and power.
 

There was no redemption in the first game though. Joel didnt redeem anyone or anything; he made a selfish decision (born out of love) to save his surrogate daughter from death... by engaging in mass murder, and dooming the entire world to the Zombie apocalypse.

Joel didn't finish part 1 redeemed. He finished part 1 as a mass murderer who denied humanity a cure to the zombie apocalypse dooming everyone.

Ok, so this makes more sense.

If this is the lens through which you viewed the first game, then what you have posted makes complete sense. You don't feel like there was a question hanging in the balance for the playerbase of TLoU (meaning you come down so squarely on one side that it is an impossibility for you to fathom or empathize with the alternative). And you feel like a the sort of condemnation of Joel's decision TLoU2, replete with all of the fallout it could possible have wrought (primarily the physical and emotional destruction of Ellie in total and certainly all that she gained from the experience of the 1st game)...was, well, warranted.

Ok, through that lens, I understand your position. I couldn't possibly disagree with it more sternly and I wonder how you felt the initial game was remotely thematically compelling (if you indeed did?). But I understand.

What I don't understand is why you seem to be standing firm on "this game (with "violence begets violence ad infinitum" as its guiding ethos) isn't a complete condemnation of Joel's decision.
 


Its weird that so many people see Joel as a good guy.

His DnD alignment is unequivocally evil. He loves Ellie no doubt, but he's routinely depicted engaging in truly abhorrent acts of torture and murder.

We also get (in this game) to see Ellie walk down that same path of evil as well, where she engages in brutal torture, mass murder and worse.
 

Ok, so this makes more sense.

If this is the lens through which you viewed the first game, then what you have posted makes complete sense. You don't feel like there was a question hanging in the balance for the playerbase of TLoU (meaning you come down so squarely on one side that it is an impossibility for you to fathom or empathize with the alternative). And you feel like a the sort of condemnation of Joel's decision TLoU2, replete with all of the fallout it could possible have wrought (primarily the physical and emotional destruction of Ellie in total and certainly all that she gained from the experience of the 1st game)...was, well, warranted.

No, I just refute any argument that Joel 'redeemed' himself. In order to be redeemed he would need to have turned his back on murder and torture. He does nothing of the sort. He is shown early in the game to be OK with brutal torture, this continues unabated through the rest of the game when he again brutally tortures and murders several people:


...before finally murdering a bunch more people, in a mass shooting. Including unarmed medical staff. Then to top it off he murders Marleene so there would be no survivors or witnesses to what he did.

There was no redemption here for Joel. Joel is evil at the start of the game (in his 40's) and remains evil the whole way through the game.

He just has a terrible choice to make at its conclusion (a choice which I myself pass no judgement on).
 


Well, Abby is Joel, basically. So we're presented with another character who does something very similar to what Joel did - commit murder for the sake of someone they loved.

We (probably) see Abby as the villain.

Do we also see Joel as a villain? If not, why not?

It's not saying, "Joel is a villain for what he did in the first game."

It's saying, "If you are okay with what Joel did in the first game, why aren't you okay with what Abby does in the second game to Joel? How do you feel about being presented the other side of the situation?"

Yes, this is clearly what they intended with the empathy moves made with Abby in this game.

There is obviously no questioning that.

But there is absolutely nothing new or compelling about that question. One of the primary reasons why TLoU was so provocative was precisely because the first game demanded you to ponder and answer that question (without the game condemning him...therefore leaving it up to the viewer to have him emotionally swing from the gallows or not). An answer that someone could trivially come up with is that Joel is neither hero nor villain. Or he's both. But that question is left up to the person who experienced the first game.

The second game emphatically declares "Joel is a villain who made the wrong decision...and violence begets violence...and any thing of merit that came out of the first game will be destroyed because of it." In-so-doing, it answers the question of the first game. Joel didn't save a redeemed and inspiring creature from a fate that may or may not lead to a cure of a humankind that may or may not be redeemable. The fate that awaits her in TLoU2 is far, far worse than death.
 

The second game emphatically declares "Joel is a villain who made the wrong decision.''

No, it does not. Where does it declare that?

The game literally has people that agree with his decision (notably Tommy) people that dont agree (Abbys crew; but remember Joel also killed their family and friends and doomed humanity from their perspective) and people that are in the middle (Ellie).

Joel and (in this game) Ellie are evil, but they're not the villains or the heroes. They're both.
 

No, I just refute any argument that Joel 'redeemed' himself. In order to be redeemed he would need to have turned his back on murder and torture. He does nothing of the sort. He is shown early in the game to be OK with brutal torture, this continues unabated through the rest of the game when he again brutally tortures and murders several people:


...before finally murdering a bunch more people, in a mass shooting. Including unarmed medical staff. Then to top it off he murders Marleene so there would be no survivors or witnesses to what he did.

There was no redemption here for Joel. Joel is evil at the start of the game (in his 40's) and remains evil the whole way through the game.

He just has a terrible choice to make at its conclusion (a choice which I myself pass no judgement on).

You're misunderstanding where redemption lies here.

In a twisted way, Joel is redeeming the world itself by reinvesting in it so deeply after it so callously took his daughter. I don't know if you've ever lost someone extraordinarily important to you by a brutal event or watched someone you desperately love be reduced to their biological constituent parts by cancer...but, trust me...if you have, you can completely understand how someone's conception of the nature of existence (and all the meaning that goes with it) is affected profoundly.

Joel made a brutal, impossible decision to kill a ton of redshirt Fireflies (who were no doubt ruthless killers like him), a Marlene that he fundamentally disagreed with (and surely detested given their differences over Elie), and (horrifically) a (presumably innocent) surgeon.

Joel and Ellie's journey of love, connection, and meaning was redeeming this fallen world. And Joel signed that redemption in blood. And now, we ultimately know how that turned out and there are no pieces to pick up after this; violence begets violence and all.
 

You're misunderstanding where redemption lies here.

In a twisted way, Joel is redeeming the world itself by reinvesting in it so deeply after it so callously took his daughter. I don't know if you've ever lost someone extraordinarily important to you by a brutal event or watched someone you desperately love be reduced to their biological constituent parts by cancer...but, trust me...if you have, you can completely understand how someone's conception of the nature of existence (and all the meaning that goes with it) is affected profoundly.

Thats not redemption though. In any sense of the word.

I wholly empathise with Joels decision at the hospital, and have no doubt that he loved Ellie deeply as a surrogate daughter. And I make no judgement on whether I agree or disagree with it other than it was a terrible decision to make one way or the other.

But he in no way redeems himself. Since the ZA he has become a cold ruthless killer, with few moral lines he has not crossed, and entirely capable of brutal murder and pitiless torture.

He finishes Part 1 exactly the same way, as a pitiless mass murderer and torturer, just with a surrogate daughter he loves.

Joel made a brutal, impossible decision to kill a ton of redshirt Fireflies (who were no doubt ruthless killers like him), a Marlene that he fundamentally disagreed with (and surely detested given their differences over Elie), and (horrifically) a (presumably innocent) surgeon.

They werent redshirts, they were people, and Joel wasnt the hero or the villain (although he was the protagonist of the story).

Stop looking for a hero or villain. Joel was an evil man, and he was the protagonist, and he loved Ellie, but he was neither an objective hero nor villain (or he was one of those two things, depending on who in the world you asked).

Joel and Ellie's journey of love, connection, and meaning was redeeming this fallen world.

Joel and Ellies journey in Part 1 didnt redeem the fallen world, they doomed it!

Quite literally in fact.
 

No, it does not. Where does it declare that?

The game literally has people that agree with his decision (notably Tommy) people that dont agree (Abbys crew; but remember Joel also killed their family and friends and doomed humanity from their perspective) and people that are in the middle (Ellie).

Joel and (in this game) Ellie are evil, but they're not the villains or the heroes. They're both.

Why would we talk about the balance of NPC positions in this game to suss out what the actual authors meta perspective was on this game?

How is that relevant.

Everyone of consequence is ruined in this game as a direct outgrowth of Joel's decision! And almost every bystander is ruined by it as well!

In what world is that not a condemnation by the authors?

I've run Apocalypse World where these exact sort of decisions led to the utter ruination of all PCs involved and an enormous tally for NPCs alike. That is a core conceit of that game. I don't see how anyone playing those games could have a takeaway that the emergent properties of our play didn't yield a similar theme to TLoU2 (and no one playing did...how could you?) and that the resultant post-mortem is nothing less than a condemnation of the PC decisions that led to the ruination.
 


Do you think Joel was the villain of the first game, Manbearcat?

Clearly not, right?

Well, in the second game, Abby does to Ellie what Joel did to the Fireflies.

Do you now think Joel is a bad guy? You apparently don't. You're angry at the game.

But it's the same action, just in a different context. If you think what Abby did is bullshit, and unfair, and that it ruins a good thing . . . well, that's just what Joel did. Maybe you are unwilling to work through that cognitive dissonance.

If so, good news: you're Ellie.

Ellie might not know the details of why Abby's group killed Joel, but she guesses that it was one of the many people Joel crossed. Despite knowing he was a bad person, and despite knowing that Joel has hurt people the same way, she doesn't want to confront the cognitive dissonance of having to see her father as both good and bad, and to see his killer as being the same as Joel. And all that is bundled up with her anger at Joel for taking away her agency at the hospital, and for making her feel like her life has no point.

Like Owen says at one point, she stops looking for the light. (Notice her guitar and her tattoo has a moth motif.)

It's not simply that 'violence begets violence.' It's that often we are willing to turn to violence and anger because it is easier than holding two incompatible ideas in our heads at once. We'd rather just see them as the bad guy, and not interrogate our own actions.

F*ck, I think that's a pretty useful lesson at any time in history, but it certainly fits now, as we're having a nationwide debate about who deserves justice and who gets targeted by extreme violence. It made me frikkin' love this game. And I love Abby, because basically she finishes the revenge quest that Ellie wants to finish, and she realizes it just hurt her more.

Yes, by the end of the game, a lot of the good things from the first game are ruined. That is supposed to bother you. It is supposed to make you remember this story the next time you get angry at someone else, or the next time you vilify an entire group because you think they're bad. You're supposed to think about it the next time you see a flame war online, or a real war. You're supposed to look for another way to overcome the anger and trauma.

What, would you want a story where everything went well, and where killing people has no consequences? That's not what The Last of Us 1 was about, so why would the sequel do that?
 

Do you think Joel was the villain of the first game, Manbearcat?

He was evil (in DnD terms). Torture, murder etc. Id happily give him a NE alignment. And hes the protagonist of the 1st game. Those things are largely objective statements.

But I make no judgement on his decision at the climax of the game.

As to whether his actions at the Hospital make him the villain of the story, that's a subjective question. Tommy doesnt think so (but he's pretty E on the alignment scale as well). Ellie wavers between agreeing or disagreeing. Abbys crew certainly think so - he was the man that murdered their friends and family and doomed the world after all.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top