Revisiting The Last of Us
As previously mentioned, reviewing the monthly PS Plus games no longer forms part of Side Mission Blog’s regular content. However, with the inclusion of The Last of Us Remastered as a free game during October 2019, I felt compelled to revisit one of my favourite games of the previous generation.
The original game was released in 2013 and has been the subject of countless reviews and critiques; from the standard scored video game review, to the in-depth studies examining the relationship development between Joel and Ellie. At this point, another traditional review of a multi award winning game, 6 years post initial release isn’t really needed – so I’m trying something new for the blog and exploring an aspect of The Last of Us which could be overlooked, however adds to the overall bleak setting of the game.
This short article explores some of the relationships between secondary characters and Joel/Ellie. If you haven’t played the game yet, there are some spoilers ahead.
“This is my last stop”
Firstly, it’s vital to remember the impact that Tess had on the story. Despite being killed off early in the journey towards finding the Fireflies, by sacrificing herself to assist Joel and Ellie escape the soldiers in the Capitol building (and avoid turning into an infected creature), Tess is monumental in setting up the remainder of the story.
Greatly expanding on this point – in the Vice article, Without Tess, There Would Be No ‘The Last of Us’, Cameron Kunzelman notes that Tess is “the person who puts Joel on the road to helping save the human race.” Without the persistence of Tess, it is likely that Joel would have returned Ellie to Marlene and the Fireflies and resumed his smuggling gig in the city.
The extent of the relationship between Joel and Tess is never fully revealed during the game. They were partners in their working relationship as smugglers in Boston. Were they partners in the romantic sense? Probably. It is hinted at on occasion. In the unforgiving and often fatal world the characters now occupy, a partnership could also be formed to increase chances of survival.
“I realized it’s gotta be just me”
The second character to examine is Bill, who lives alone in the town of Lincoln. It is quite clear that Bill and Joel’s relationship is one built on the mutually beneficial arrangement of being involved in smuggling.
Bill owes Joel a favour. He makes it obvious that he is only helping to retrieve the car battery to repay this debt. Demonstrating his survival driven paranoia, Bill makes his distrust of Ellie known by handcuffing her to a pipe to ensure she isn’t infected. The remainder of the interactions between Bill and Ellie are primarily insults and threats towards one another.
After the group escape from the school, they discover the fate of Bill’s former partner. The player can discover a note written by Frank within the house, which reveals his hatred of Bill. Frank writes that he ‘grew tired of this shitty town’ and of Bill’s ‘set-in-your-ways attitude‘. It is entirely possible that Bill could always have acted the way he does. I would inclined however to say that his behaviour must have also been influenced by the dangers surrounding the town.
At the conclusion of Chapter 4, “Bill’s Town”, Joel and Ellie set off on the next part of their journey. Bill remains alone in Lincoln. Despite Bill being well equipped with weapons and traps for the infected, the idea of him as the only survivor within the town, isolated with the newly discovered knowledge of Frank’s feelings, is a bit of a depressing thought.
“It’s all your fault!”
The final characters to discuss in this article are Henry and Sam, introduced in the Pittsburgh chapter. These two brothers were separated from their group of survivors after an ambush by Hunters in the city. Joel and Ellie crossed paths with the brothers during their escape from the same enemies, and formed a mutual alliance.
Shortly after meeting, the group planned an escape from the group of Hunters and their Humvee in Pittsburgh. Whilst Joel was heading towards safety, the ladder he was climbing broke. In a split second decision, Henry made the brothers survival the priority, instead of assisting Joel onto the truck. Sam appears shocked at his Henry’s actions, or rather, inaction. He did however redeem his prior actions by rescuing Joel and Ellie from the river a short time later.
The main protagonist’s partnership with the brothers is similar to the partnership with Bill – in that joining up with one another increased the likelihood of survival for the group.
The end of the partnership is the tragic moment when Sam becomes infected. After the horrible choice of killing his brother, and facing the prospect of living with the guilt of his actions and the likelihood of surviving on his own, Henry shoots himself. This is another example of the speed in which relationships can end in the post-apocalyptic setting.
The Last of Us: Part II
In what has no doubt been another strategic placement of a game on the PS Plus lineup. Replaying The Last of Us has definitely reignited our excitement in this excellent story driven experience. It has also paved the way for the pre-release anticipation for the sequel.
The Last of Us Part II will be released for Playstation 4 on 29th May 2020. More details can be found at developer Naughty Dog’s site here.
Our gaming articles can be found here.