I may not like The Last of Us, but I do like the DLC.
Let’s just go ahead and get it out there – I did not like The Last of Us. I found the combat and overall game play to be boring and monotonous, while the characters and storytelling were amazing. Unfortunately, I really didn’t feel like slogging through the game play just to get to the great story and set pieces. So I’m in the minority when it comes to disliking The Last of Us. Now, when my editor-in-chief asked me to review the new story DLC for the game, I was a little hesitant, but after playing The Last of Us: Left Behind, I really want to go back and play through the original game now.
Left Behind takes place during the main story of The Last of Us, and in flashbacks recalls the time before the events of the proper game. Ellie and Joel enter a shopping mall during the winter. Joel gets injured and Ellie must go out looking for a medical kit. Players take control of Ellie during this time while she is alone in the mall. This then triggers Ellie’s memory of a time with her friend, Riley.
Let me tell you a story.
If there’s one thing Naughty Dog can do it’s tell a story, and Left Behind tells a great tale. The mere fact that I had never heard of Riley and by the time the DLC was over I felt for her is an amazing feat. They really convey Ellie and Riley’s relationship and past very well and after only ten minutes, I was engaged.
In the flashbacks, there is no real combat. It is all character interaction and some of the things encountered in these flashbacks really sell both the story and the presentation. I don’t want to spoil a single thing so I will not discuss what goes on, but needless to say, there are some really great and emotional set pieces that really drive the experience.
The action is all within the present time, with Ellie trying to find a medical kit for Joel. She is alone and must navigate the post apocalyptic mall while trying to avoid both infected and humans. The DLC does a decent job of giving the player options in what they want to do. Most of the time, I was able to sneak past enemies or draw the attention of the infected towards the humans hunting me and have them fight each other while I went around. Unfortunately, the combat does rear its ugly head at the end of the story, where there is a section that forced me to kill every enemy in the area before I could move on. I had to restart here multiple times and it frustrated me after a few tries.
A good, but short experience.
Left Behind lasted around two hours, depending on what I looked for and how fast I completed things, and there are a good number of things I may have missed on the first play though of it. Just walking around finding things that may trigger dialog between Ellie and Riley was a satisfying experience due to the great voice acting and character interactions.
The Last of Us: Left Behind struck a chord with me. It has a more accessible approach in a bite sized form that tells a great story while offering up some of the best visuals on the last gen systems. If anything, it has encouraged me to try out the main game again, and that’s something I didn’t think I would do for a very long time. It may be a little short, but for $15 players get a great story to add onto The Last of Us, and those looking for another reason to jump back into the game have just found it.
Review copy of DLC provided by publisher.