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Context: Butch is playing “Left Behind,” the DLC for The Last of Us

Note: Spoilers for this DLC


Ok, played until I found a dead pharmacist and opened a door to find an empty box and now I have to get to a helicopter.

So not much.  Met the doomed Riley (Ellie says as much at the end, so not a spoiler) who looks a lot like Marlene.  That gonna be something?

So not much, but one thought: The thing starts and you’re in that mall.  Then the pharmacy, then the room full of spores.  Now, you see this (or I did), and you metagame.  Big open space, whole lot of places to take cover (like a WHOLE lot of spaces to take cover) and you think “Oh it’s ON!” Then a huge room with spores, etc.   So I spent the whole time, crouched, going from cover position to cover position expecting all sorts of evil around every corner, in every spore cloud.  And it’s scary because you have no ammo, you’re at half health, there are no supplies, you are completely unprepared for this big bad universe of bad things, I mean, it IS full of bad things, right?

Until it isn’t.

Whole time I played (maybe, 20, 30 minutes, which isn’t all that long, but if this is really three hours that’s a good chunk) I met one clicker who was very easily avoided with a little patience and a brick.

So we talked a lot on coming of age, having to do nasty things, etc, from Joel’s point of view. Indeed, this starts with that scene, that Joel watching Ellie come of age and not being able to do Jack about it. And now she’s out there alone, of age, in the scary, scary, scary world which, at least right now……isn’t so scary. It certainly isn’t as scary as we thought it would be when we saw that mall filled with cover.


The DLC definitely has a “tense waiting” thing going on, more than an “all battle all the time” one. Which I don’t mind: I think three hours of nonstop fighting would have been pretty meh in terms of story, where what they’re trying to do is really give you some story, all the while letting you stew in the grim certainty that sooner or later, somewhere, something is going to jump out and want to eat you.

Yeah, adulthood ISN’T all that bad…at least not at first. Not on the surface.

The two stories that you cut back and forth between are both interesting launch points for Ellie on her journey to adulthood: in the earlier story she’s sneaking out with a “bad kid” friend, which is a sort of semi-universal kid story but with all the dead serious undertones of the risk that kids take in this particular world when they sneak out after curfew. Also, by actively choosing to go off with Riley even though she knows she really shouldn’t (based on the rules established for her childhood), she’s making a choice to reach for adulthood: something Riley, by leaving the orphanage/school and joining the Fireflies, has already done.

In the later story, she’s on her own, Joel down, no one to take care of her and her with an injured person she needs to take care of, so we see her poking her head out into the world as a grown-up, for real: it all depends on her. And as you say, at first glance that world, although full of scary potential, isn’t really so dangerous. Just more of the same stuff she’s been doing, right? And life is kind of like that: you think there’s some world of secret grown-up knowledge that will make everything make sense, or that the world of grown-ups is so terrifying that it will instantly crush you if you’re unworthy, but no…you’re still just peeking around, on alert, doing the best you can.

We know, and she knows, that bad stuff is out there. But just because you’re alone, doesn’t mean you can’t still do things to take care of yourself. There are responsibilities in life that, if you can handle them with someone else, you can also handle on your own, and she’s learned this, and she’s taking action and doing things to help herself and Joel.

You can make it. Even though things are bad, being an adult, on your own, with no one to take care of you, isn’t an automatic death sentence.

This is about the most hopeful thing this game tells us: “not an automatic death sentence!”


There is grim certainly. And yeah, I don’t want a battle. But I think they did that ok DLC wise, because there’s all that multiplayer stuff and maps and whatnot, that really is all battle battle battle, so they catered to all.

I haven’t seen much of Riley yet. I just know that a) she’s a buddy, b) she has stolen away and joined the fireflies after a 46 day absence and c) she’s gonna die.

But A+ on keeping the metaphor going, Naughty Dog.

And A+ for making the place she has to go to get the key off the dead pharmacist be an “American Princess” store full of little girly girl clothes and dolls. Simultaneously creepy and metaphorical. They do get the details right, they do.

Yeah, she doesn’t have any illusions. She has gotten past the misconception that adulthood is all beer parties and doing whatever you want (right?) I have a feeling we’ll be seeing her have that misconception with Riley, though.

“Not an automatic death sentence”: Whoo hoo! Well, no one gets out of life alive, right?


Yeah, it’s like Ellie’s Riley story is her reaching for the child’s idea of adulthood (going where you want, doing what you want, not having to follow anyone else’s rules), while the mall story is her acceptance of the jaded adult’s reality (taking care of people, not having anyone to take care of you, having to deal with the rules of “we’ve claimed this territory so if we find you in it we get to kill you”).

Yes, adulthood is a long, lonely road, Ellie. And one just bristling with cannibals. Not that she technically knows they’re cannibals yet. But I bet she can sense it.


“We’ve claimed this territory so if we find you in it we get to kill you.”

Man, if that last one was true it would so justify spending the money to get a yard.

“But I was just cutting across!”


I remember the day I had to come to terms with the cannibals. So disappointing. But hey, the price of home ownership.


No one likes having to come to terms with the cannibals, but it’s part of growing up. That and having your parent figure impaled on a spike.


You know, the more I play the more I realize my parents totally let me down. Didn’t get impaled on spikes once, and they never, EVER took me aside and gave me that essential chat: what to do when someone, inevitably, tries to eat you. Don’t drink, they said, which, really, is shitty advice, and totally useless against the cannibals.