“We can be all poetic and lose our minds together.”

tlou lb

Part one of the Cullen Plays Left Behind series. You would have had commentary, but I forgot to turn my XSplit mic on. Oops. You can find the remainder of my runthrough of Left Behind here.

WARNING: THERE WILL BE MASSIVE SPOILERS MENTIONED HERE, INCLUDING ITS ENDING AND A VERY PIVOTAL MOMENT TOWARDS THE END OF THE DLC.

There’s no big intro to make. Lets just get into perhaps one of the most pivotal scenes in Left Behind. Ellie and Riley’s kiss was something that most people probably didn’t expect, me being one of them. However, it didn’t take away how sweet it and lovely that scene was, as was Ellie’s ‘don’t go’ plea.

Now that I look back on it in hindsight, it did feel like Left Behind was building up to it, but the way it did it was subtle: the photobooth and the awkward silence, the water guns, etc. In fact, creative director Neil Druckmann more or less confirmed Ellie had a thing for Riley in a recent IGN spoilercast, noting that he wanted to tell “a different kind of love story” between the two.

The more I think about it, the more I actually see the Boston bits in Left Behind as a kind of date between the two. I know that sounds silly as it only started with the two of them being mallrats, but after fully playing it twice, I can’t help but see it that way. You can probably see why it released on Valentines Day now.

But if nothing else, Left Behind shows off that childhood adolescence and innocence is still alive in well, even in a post-apocalytpic world. You just have to look at sneaking out in the middle of night, smashing car windows with bricks or that bit of underage drinking (oh come on, we’ve all done it).

Yet, as Left Behind goes on, you’ll see that innocence has also been taken from Ellie. I mentioned last December how the main game highlights some bits of innocence still left in her, but Left Behind’s main story shows her full to the brim with it in Boston, but also how it has been stripped away from her as the world she now lives in forces her to grow up and fight for survival against infected and hunters as she seeks to find medical supplies for Joel in the wake of what happened at the hospital in Colorado in the main campaign.

Left Behind doesn’t have a lot of combat and its only towards the end we’re introduced to human enemies, but it provides an interesting tactical aspect to it this time as it enabled human enemies to take on infected, which I would have liked to have seen in the main game.

Depending on where you throw a brick or bottle, an infected can come running at a human or two as you sneak by to the next area or at the very least, reduce numbers on either side with the ensuing battle. That said, its last major fight provided a massive – and unneeded – difficulty spike as it edged towards the end of the DLC.

For the two hours you get with The Last of Us: Left Behind, there’s a case to be made that at £11.99, it could well be perhaps a quid or two over what it could be valued at. And admittedly, in its two hour timeframe, it didn’t provide the same emotional punch the main game did: the only time I welled up was towards the end – and even then, we didn’t get to see the inevitableness of Riley turning and becoming an infected (though as mentioned in the IGN spoilercast linked above, Druckmann mentioned it wanted to leave that to the player’s imagination).

But those nitpicks nonetheless don’t take away Left Behind being one of the best character-development pieces of gaming I’ve ever played. Ashley Johnson provides an absolute blinder once again as Ellie and Yanni King is terrific as Riley.

However, no matter how great Left Behind is, I still maintain I want to see nothing more from The Last of Us. I said back in December I don’t want to see no more from TLOU after Left Behind and while I’ve seen others say they actually want to see more following its release, I don’t. The game is too perfect as a one-off, self-contained experience. For the comments of a potential sequel, my hope is we actually now see a new IP from that particular team that maintains the maturity and seriousness of The Last of Us.

Left Behind doesn’t sway me the other way of that opinion, but it is still something that should be checked out. For at least a reminder of the days of innocence, now since gone, and the tale of an endearing friendship.

Disclosure: This opinion is based on a digital code of The Last of Us: Left Behind on PlayStation 3, provided by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The Last of Us: Left Behind is out now for PlayStation 3.

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