It’s been a long time since I took to the abandoned streets of The Last of Us, but with its first DLC finally upon us eight months after initial release, I’m happy to get back into Naughty Dog’s world. Instead of taking place after the events of the main story, Left Behind places you in the shoes of Ellie, between two different time periods. Needless to say, I’m going to be talking about some spoilerific content, so I suggest you complete the game before reading about this extra story content.
We open the story near the end of the main campaign, as you make the transition from Joel to Ellie. For those who remember correctly, this happens at the point at which Joel gets seriously injured, forcing Ellie to fend for herself whilst keeping him alive. The game then switches between this time frame and earlier in Ellie’s life, when she attended a military boarding school. While the former focuses on her efforts to find medical supplies for Joel, the latter takes a look at her relationship with an old childhood friend named Riley. This is based before Ellie receives the bite on her arm.
I was a bit disappointed to learn I wouldn’t be furthering Joel and Ellie’s adventure, but I was satisfied once I learned I’d be exploring Ellie’s prior life. During the trip to get Joel patched up, you navigate an abandoned shopping mall and slowly make your way through various shops. On your way you encounter a few infected – as well as human resistance – but most of the time you’re treated to thoughtful moments between Ellie and Riley. It’s not without its hurdles, however, as the search for anything remotely medical turns out to be a tough one. After you encounter little resistance, you manage to make it to a crashed helicopter, managing to find a med-kit with everything intact.
Though it was nice to find out what happened whilst Joel was injured, it was Ellie’s past-times that stood out to me the most. Here your time focused on your relationship with a childhood friend name Riley (no, not the dog from Call of Duty’s Ghosts) After returning from time away, Riley surprises Ellie and reveals herself as a fully-fledged Firefly. Shortly after her arrival, the two head off, out of the military boarding school and to a nearby mall. It takes a while for Ellie to feel comfortable with Riley again, but slowly they rekindle their lost friendship, becoming closer than they ever have before.
Even though you both have the dis-pleasure of fighting off the infected, it’s time spent building the relationship that serves for a larger part of the gameplay. That includes playing games together, such as an imaginary arcade fighter or even taking part in water pistol fights. It was great to see the chemistry between these two characters, particularly through exploration of their environment. By the end of the story it leaves on a significant, yet tragic note. It might come as expected, but realising the endings’ multiple outcomes thereafter, I was once again struck by Naughty Dog’s ability to craft an emotionally engaging story.
- + Learning more about Ellie before she got infected
- + The same great combat mechanics
- + Ellie’s foul language strikes again!
- - Very short