The Last of Us: Left Behind [Review]
After I finished The Last of Us last year I thought it would be a game that would never enter my console again. For some reason, though, I couldn’t bring myself to trade it in. Sure, I thought the game was a bit over-hyped, but there was no denying that Naughty Dog was on their A-game when it came to the story, voice acting, and game play. Good thing I didn’t trade it in, because the announcement of the Left Behind DLC was a total shocker for me considering that Naughty Dog doesn’t really do single player DLC.
The Last of Us: Left Behind revolves around Ellie and covers two time periods, going between them as you play through the DLC. One time period takes place before the events of The Last of Us, where Ellie’s friend Riley has resurfaced after disappearing for 46 days. She explains to Ellie that she joined the Fireflies and wants to take Ellie somewhere to give her a surprise. The other time period takes place immediately after Joel gets hurt in Colorado. Ellie manages to get Joel to an abandoned mall where she goes to look for medical supplies to patch him up.
The DLC is pretty light on the action and stealth game play, choosing to focus more on the story elements and some simple puzzles. While you’re playing the Ellie/Riley arc it consists primarily of Ellie following Riley around, with the two of them playing around in an abandoned mall close to Boston. There are some activities that equate to mini-games like throwing bricks through car windows, having a water gun fight, and taking pictures in a photo booth. Before you start the DLC you will be asked if you want to connect your Facebook account for a cool feature, and to my understanding that “cool” feature is that the photos you take with Ellie and Riley are uploaded to your Facebook account. I declined, so I could be wrong.
This side of the story does give you a bit more insight to Ellie’s life before she was bitten. It tells you what kind of person she was, what kind of trouble she got into, and you get to see her more as a teenager than what you see in the main game. The story parts with Riley are the only times Ellie has dialog with someone besides herself since Joel is incapacitated in the rest of the DLC, and once again Naughty Dog does an excellent job with dialog and voice acting. I’m not exactly sure how they coach their voice actors, but the conversations between Ellie and Riley were as natural as one between my friends and I. Natural conversation doesn’t sound all that impressive, but if you’ve been playing games for a moderate period of time you will understand how hard it is to pull that off. The Last of Us dealt with heavy subject matter, and Left Behind continues with that. After you get your fair dose of teenage girl shenanigans, the conversation does get a bit heavier — giving players a bit more insight into the relationship between Ellie and Riley.
The Ellie/Joel arc had a lot more problem solving, action, and stealth game play than the Riley arcAs Ellie is looking through the mall for supplies to help Joel, she comes across a few road blocks that she needs to cross. There were a few suspenseful moments, but one of the problems that the main game had was letting suspense last for too long and not delivering; The DLC also does that. You’ll never be surprised by infected, as when they’re around they will either make noise or Ellie will say something that alerts players to their presence. The areas with the infected and their walking paths aren’t as complex as the main game, so players will likely have little to no problem making it past infected. One of the best things about playing as Ellie is that she uses a knife instead of shivs, so you don’t need to worry about running out of shivs when you’re considering taking out an infected.
Just when I was about to give up on action, humans finally appear in the last 30 minutes of the DLC. Unlike most of The Last of Us, humans and infected aren’t separated in this DLC. For the short period that you’re dealing with humans, infected will also be in the area. So, you can try to sneak past both, try to take both on, or you can try to get them to fight each other so you can sneak past. I have to admit, even with the third option you wouldn’t skate past scot-free. The movement of both the infected and humans was pretty unpredictable; especially in combat.
In addition to Ellie’s knife you also get a handgun, bow, and if you can pull it off of a human, a rifle. There are also supplies to collect around the mall that will allow you to build things like bombs. I was pretty much stocked up the entire time, but ended up needing most of those supplies for the fight that happens toward the end of the DLC. To be honest I was quite surprised how many enemies are thrown at you toward the end. It goes from being a bit unbelievable that this small girl can take out all of these grown men to pretty much impossible that she survived this encounter. The enemies had the advantage on Ellie in every way, and even Joel would have probably died in this situation. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not really a complaint. It just pulled me out of the game for a bit when it happened.
The DLC cost $15, and with the DLC only lasting a little over 90 minutes that may seem a bit high to many gamers. I did enjoy the DLC, although I felt it was a bit too light on stealth and action game play. Players that really enjoyed the story of The Last of Us will likely enjoy this DLC, as it gives you more insight into Ellie. This DLC doesn’t feel like a move to squeeze more money out of players; it feels more like an extra treat for fans from Naughty Dog. If you’re a fan of The Last of Us you’ll probably appreciate it.