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Almost weekly I find myself sinking into the boots of another digital age adventure. Sometimes it's seeking lost treasures as a dashing Nathan Drake and sometimes placing myself in the shoes of the always overwhelemed Master Chief. Either way, when I play great games those characters become a part of myself and vice versa. This was exactly the way I felt throughout the entire campaign of Naughty Dog's newest run away hit, The Last of Us...until the end of it that is.
(This article does contain spoliers continue at your own risk)
To give you a little backstory on this game, you primarily play a Joel who is a late middle aged man that before the infection was a single father and construction worker. It is rather obvious that, since the oncoming storm that was the destruction of mankind at the hands of a fungal plague, you are a character who has had to do some less than admirable things to survive. This list may include, but is not limited to, murder, theft, lies, and acts of canabilism (although the last one is less than likely due to reactions you see from inside the game). Joel is suckered into making a deal with the Fireflys (a band of rebels fighting for freedom and a cure) in order to get a large cache of weapons back into his ownership which was stolen from him in the first place. This deal involves going with his partner and smuggling a young girl from the city in what could only be described as a 3 hour "tour".
-sings 3 hour tour-
Needless to say, shit gets absolutely fucked from there. Oh, it can't be that bad can it? That's like introducing your friend to the show Firefly just for the crushing defeat of telling them there is no more and never will be, you heartless monster. It's Game of Thrones all over again. This game provides everything that embodies "Joss Whedon" syndrome in which everyone you love will DIE in an emotionally gut wrenching way. It was a rough start to know these characters, Joel and Ellie. They both have some serious layers of dust to blow off the top before they draw you into this father/daughter conundrum that warms your heart like a huge gulp of coffee that went down the wrong way.
I was in love with this game to the point where even at points where it was frustrating, I found solace in the one sentence loading screens with advice that were almost always helpful. I felt like this game was my Joel because every time I screwed the pooch and ended up meeting my brutal demise, it picked me back up and set me back on the right path. The game even had (mostly) perfect checkpoints to make sure I wouldn't have to go overboard on the level of frustration in redoing tedious and hard to manuever moments. To give you more background, I ate through this game in three sittings of about four hours a piece. My total in game time was around 13 hours. When I came out of those gaming sessions I felt as if I was stepping from a sensory deprevation chamber because when I walked outside it felt almost foreign to me that I didn't have to be in constant fear for my life, searching for left overs, and seeing a wake of destruction everywhere I looked. In the 20 years I've been playing video games, I have never felt that before. It made me worry that I perhaps had put this game on a pedestal and it seems, to me at least, that I had.
With all of that said, I suppose I should get on to the point because chances are if you're reading this article you've finished the game. The story of this game was absolutely on point throughout the entirety until you reached the hospital and finally meet back up with the Fireflies and their doctors. Throughout the entire game Ellie and Joel have become ery close to each other but it seems as if there is still a distance between the two, as there should be. Joel lost his daughter during the night the infection started going worldwide because she was gunned down by a military officer who was then murdered by Joel's brother. Now, looking at the psychology behind this, it is a seriously tramatic experience but after twenty years of repressing it you'd think there would have been a disconnect here. Apparently there is not.
Joel finds out via audio logs littered throughout the hospital labs that the only way they can take a shot at creating a vaccine is by killing Ellie and removing the host she's become immune to. If you listen close, it's not a 100% confirmed solution it's more of a "Well...it might work...but theres also a %50 chance of child murder on the radar." Long story short, Joel freaks out and puts the murder on about thirty five people including one doctor and one Firefly leader, takes Ellie, and retreats to the nice little mountain town his brother has created. In doing so he lies to Ellie and tells her there have been plenty more like her, the vaccine was almost an impossible solution, and they will find others. She makes him promise that all of what he said isn't a lie, which it is, and BLAMMO cue the lights because that is game.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
This is NOT the ending I signed up for. Naughty Dog spent years working on this game and I spent years following what I felt was going to be a one game/one story event. I do not want to hear the arguement for DLC because that is part of the problem with telling stories via the medium of games these days. I wouldn't pay Amazon a full book price for 9 chapters of a 10 chapter book. I wouldn't go into a book series I wasn't prepared for to be a series either. I wanted it to end and I had prepared myself for the horrible situation of Ellie is going to die. I was as mad that she didn't die as I was upset when, in the game, you think Joel might actually BE DEAD. But even beyond that, this man made a trip across the fucking country and back because he was attempting to help gain a cure for this disease. I mean he even promised his dead ass partner who is, by this time, probably covered in all sorts of horrible fungus death that he would! I'm not sure if this is a statement on how selfish we are as humans, because if it is I'm only further proving that point by demanding my ending, but am I the only one who actually beleives the needs of the many out weight the needs of the few?
I felt like The Last of Us was a great game that dropped short of amazing because the ending was absolutely awful and made me feel as if the 11 seriously emotional hours I spent with it were all for nothing. My mind did a complete 180 during the last sequence and cutscene. It was as if I wanted Joel to get murdered and overrun by the Fireflies. I stood in that operating room for 10 minutes contemplating the actions of stabbing that doctor and trying to see if I had any alternate option for which there was not. I felt cheated not only because the game is left open as a new franchise (because game developers hate money), but also because of a psychosis that felt completely unnatural for the character I had grown to know the ends and outs of over the course of the game. His moral areas were rather clear and the brutality of his actions justified the means. I'm not sure if I'm bitching or crying out for a better explaination, but for right now I cannot agree with how this story ended.
TL;DR: I'm pretty butthurt about the ending because it feels rushed and out of character. How do you feel about it?