XI
you are not logged in
Review

The Last Of Us: Left Behind Review

Let's go to the mall.

Naughty Dog, keen to deliver one final moment of awe before wrapping up The Last of Us, evoke a genuine sense of surprise as you load up Left Behind. It’s not a shocking twist, and neither is it anything foreshadowed to death, yet it’s not something that could really be spoiled for you in a major way.

We could tell you about the extra layer of intrigue found in Left Behind, but we’re going to avoid that and discuss the downloadable content as a whole, without any story spoilers whatsoever. Just know that it’s not completely what you expect going in – there are two sides to a story, and Naughty Dog’s achievements shine throughout this prequel, creating a very effective and moving piece of interactive entertainment once again.

Perhaps all you need to know going in is that if you enjoyed The Last of Us, then you’ll enjoy this just as much. Gameplay is the same for the most part, it’s still a wonderfully built post-apocalyptic world and there’s still an extremely engaging story to be found.

But the introduction of Riley, Ellie’s best friend before she met Joel and Tess, is a smart one, and creates something which we never got to experience throughout the main game. They’ll bounce off each other with their childlike wonder relatively unhindered by the world around them, contrasting strongly with Joel, whose aged attitude and unfortunate circumstances took a toll on his morale.

It’s just really nice to see two friends getting along as well as they do and since it’s based in a shopping mall there’s plenty for Ellie and Riley to chat about, from the various shops, to pre-apocalypse technology. Their pop-culture knowledge may be a bit too advance for two girls who grew up after the world fell, but there are some genuinely charming scenes, peppered with use of the youthful imagination that these young girls are so full of.

leftbehind1

This creates quite a bleak contrast to what we’ve seen before in The Last of Us, but it’s juxtaposed just as well throughout Left Behind, with the twosome’s faux happiness almost crumbling as they long for this world which they never knew, exploring the atrocities of a world which they know far too well.

Truly, Left Behind feels like a missing chapter of sorts. For the original experience, its omittance made perfect sense, but after playing through this story, the main game doesn’t feel quite as complete without it. This wraps up the story of The Last of Us, from each characters’ beginning to the end of the tale.

But even as a standalone story it would work and Riley alone is proof of this. You’ve never met her before Left Behind, but you understand and care about the situation, and not only because she’s Ellie’s friend. This leads to Quantic Dream-esque interactions, moments which give you more freedom and engross you in the story without feeling as though you’re just watching it play out.

leftbehind2

There’s a really well-measured build up over the three hour run, and it’s ultimately compelling from all angles, even enhanced because you’ve already spent a good amount of time in the company of Ellie before. You’ll naturally be playing as her for the duration of Left Behind, as you did in a couple of sections in the main game. With her trusty knife and more agile frame, she’s often easier to manage than Joel was, yet lacks the brute force strength to take enemies head on or use larger melee weapons.

Some of the progression lets the game down however. In several sections, you’ll simply be guiding Ellie from one point to another in an open area. It’s nice to have the sense of exploration throughout the mall, but some sections feel like fetch quests rather than true goals. Still, it’s a truly incredible place to explore off the beaten path, with more of the excellent world-setting backstory told through notes, recordings and various other trinkets found throughout the game.

What’s Good:

  • It’s not quite what you’ll expect.
  • Yet it’s exactly what you’ll want.
  • The story and characters shine.
  • A brilliant sense of childlike imagination and wonder permeates the bleak world.

What’s Bad:

  • Feels as though you’re running from one objective to another at times.
  • Follows a similar path to the main game, and some may not enjoy that.

Left Behind is the perfect complimentary side-dish for The Last of Us. It’s happier at points, but just as bleak at others, and everything else is pretty much on par with any of the other chapters in the tale. There’s a brilliant approach to the narrative, while Ellie and Riley’s charm shines throughout, their wonder and imagination matching exactly how you’ll feel as you return to this world.

Score: 9/10

19 Comments
  1. SamBeThyName
    Member
    Since: Sep 2013

    I can’t wait to play this. TLoU was one of the tiny number of games that is genuinely able to make the player emotionally connect to its characters, in same way that a book or film might. I wonder if Naughty Dogs work on TLoU is going to make the next Uncharted a bit darker – I think that could be quite an interesting direction, especially considering the amount of people Nathen bumps off.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 06:36.
  2. lambchop
    Member
    Since: Aug 2013

    I can’t wait to play The Last of Us, but It’s a good way off with my present backlog.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 06:46.
    • blast71
      Member
      Since: May 2012

      Same here, I haven’t even bought it yet. Waiting for it to get below a tenner, as Skyrim is still running my life (160 hours in).

      Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 15:49.
  3. Lyts1985
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    This is right up there on my “must buy ASAP” list. Thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of TLOU and have been looking forward to this :-)

    Review sounds interesting. Question though… Are there “infected” in this? Joel pretty much taught Ellie how to survive and handle herself so I’m guessing she’s not too “handy” here. I can only imagine that makes things more tense…

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 07:36.
  4. Taylor Made
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    How much & how long is this DLC?

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 07:51.
    • Lyts1985
      Member
      Since: Jan 2009

      It’s £11.99, and apparently it’s around the 3hr mark…

      Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 08:13.
      • Taylor Made
        Member
        Since: Oct 2011

        Ah cheers, not worth my money then

        Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 08:30.
  5. nofi
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Gutted I no longer own a PS3. TLOU was extraordinary, hopefully this’ll come to PS4 at some point.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 08:09.
    • Andrewww
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      That’s what I hope for all those games I missed on the PS3, this included. Otherwise, I’ll get them for £10 quite soon, I expect.

      Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 08:36.
  6. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Sounds excellent.

    I’ll download this tonight and probably play it tomorrow (have to watch House of Cards first).

    Great review, you’ve made me even more excited to play it without spoiling a single thing!

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 09:32.
  7. maccas09
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Excellent, can’t wait.

    Quick question, do I need TLoU disk to play this?

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 10:52.
  8. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Lovely review, Blair. Very much looking forward to picking this up. Cheers. :-)

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 10:59.
  9. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    And 10 new (single player) trophies have been added…among lots of fixes in the patch, yay! I want Naughty Dog to be my valentine

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 11:21.
  10. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Great review, i’ll pick this up later although i won’t get to play it until the weekend – can’t wait!

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 11:35.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

10 hours ago
3

Latest Comments

TSA Meets

  • None today