It is hard to believe that back last summer when I first wrote about The Last of Us, I did so without having played the Left Behind DLC. As part of my quest to clear my gaming backlog, I realised that I had to correct this wrong, and so, I reinstalled the game on my PlayStation and got to work.
What did I find once I was ready to play? A save from last year when I must have been pondering taking a look at Left Behind. I think I stopped playing it quite quickly last year as I was burned out from the main story, and couldn’t bring myself around to another emotional roller-coaster. When I resumed Left Behind from my original position, I was with Ellie and was just entering a cold, snow battered mall. I hadn’t strayed too far into the game, I was only missing the intro sequence with Ellie and her best friend, Riley.
The events of Left Behind take place in the weeks before Joel gets involved with the Fireflies along with sections that take place during the Winter sequence of the base game. It is hard to say much about Left Behind without touching on the story, and while most people probably already know what happens, I won’t spoil it any further than I have done already. I’ll be honest that I felt happy with the main Last of Us story and didn’t feel a need for anything else, but it was good to see Ellie’s story revealed more, it was effective in pulling at my heart strings.
The split between pre-Last of Us and the Winter setting is well done, and entirely changes the dynamic of the game. Many elements of Ellie’s adventures with Riley were a wonderful diversion from the grim reality of the Winter scenes. There were special moments to be had in a Halloween costume shop, arcade and an extremely satisfying and amusing water gun fight. They really are wonderfully crafted, and deserve to be enjoyed. Perhaps my favourite moment though was when Left Behind turned into an Escalator Simulator:
Moving into the Winter scenes, Ellie isn’t fully equipped like Joel is during the main story. You have to scavenge around the mall to find basic supplies, and the tension builds to a fitting crescendo of a battle against both walkers and hunters. If you played Last of Us, then you will know what to expect with the pacing – quiet with tension building, turn on a generator and all hell breaks loose. I loved it though, and I moved out of my comfort zone by embracing a different approach to some sequences than I did in the main game. As you can see in the video below, I actually took a stealthy approach to luring the walkers and hunters into fighting each other. I know the angle isn’t great, but it is an example of how the core mechanics of the game still hold up.
I’m glad that I finally got around to completing Left Behind, it is a fitting closing chapter to the main story, and it certainly doesn’t pull on the emotional punches. I think I’ll be keeping The Last of Us: Remastered lying around so I can take it on a New Game Plus adventure in a year or so.
Have you played The Last of Us or Left Behind? What do you think of it?