Left Behind: a story of two girls
The Last of Us was one of last year’s best games on the PlayStation 3.
Heck, it was one of the best games of the year on all formats.
Left Behind is the first – and 0nly – story-based DLC for Naughty Dog’s survival/horror (can it be classed as a horror?) game and while it’s not long – I think it took me about two to two and a half hours to complete – it’s probably one of the most emotive pieces of DLC that I’ve played in a long, long time. If you like strong narrative and some tying up of loose ends from the main game, then Left Behind fits the bill <There could be some slight story line spoilers here so tread carefully like your wandering through an abandoned house full of clickers>.
First things first, though: If you own a PlayStation 3 and haven’t played The Last of Us I really recommend you do. It’s well, well worth it.
Left Behind is split into two tales, each intermingled. It starts with The Last of Us’ Ellie and Joel in an abandoned shopping mall. Joel is severely injured, caused by an earlier incident in the game’s Winter section. It’s alluded to in flashback form at the start of the DLC. Ellie has to search the mall for medical supplies to stop Joel from bleeding to death.
The other story is that of Ellie and her friend Riley, her best friend from a Boston military school, and the months before Ellie met Joel. Riley is mentioned in the main story of The Last of Us but we never knew what happened to her (well, we know she died but we aren’t told how). Left Behind fills in the blanks.
Combat is less than in The Last of Us: This is DLC that is more about an emotive story than body counts but when there is combat it has a nice twist in that both human scavengers and infected can be “urged”to fight each other, making it easier for Ellie.
In situations where you find both, if you attract the attention of a group of clickers to where a group of scavengers are – say tossing a brick where two humans are. sending the clickers to the source of the noise – then you can sit back and watch the two factions kill each other, often only leaving one or two of each faction to take care of.
Some of the most emotional moments of Left Behind are with Ellie and Riley in an abandoned shopping centre. They explore, they laugh, they take snapshots in a photo booth, they joke around in a Halloween-themed shop. It’s a far cry from their reality since the infection, and while, things turn to custard by the end, Left Behind shows what masters Naughty Dog and its creative director Neil Druckmann are (incidentally, I found an old newspaper clipping of an interview I did with Druckmann about the Uncharted series. This serves no purpose other than to tell you that I’ve spoken to him).
Left Behind is a nice addition to the foundations that The Last of Us built and shows that done right, video games can be the ideal medium for delivering compelling, emotive narrative.