The Last of Us: Left Behind
If you recall from my feelings on The Last of Us, you’ll remember I wasn’t that fond of it. It’s a fine game, but I don’t believe it’s the emotional storytelling masterpiece everyone makes it out to be.
When the Remastered Edition launched on Playstation 4, I played it again and my feelings didn’t change. However, I moved onto the Left Behind DLC after and was pleasantly surprised.
Left Behind is a short chronicle that pairs a slice of Ellie’s story during the regular campaign with a flashback of a day she spends exploring with her best friend Riley. The story is segmented perfectly. As soon as you get to a highlight in one timeline, the story switches back over to the other. It allows enough time to get invested and almost forget about one timeline when it switches back.
Ellie and Riley’s flashback exploration sequences outshine Ellie’s present-time ones, yet the present-time keeps stakes high because Ellie gathers materials in a dangerous mall to save Joel’s life during it. Time is never wasted in Left Behind due to its brevity.
The flashbacks offer a pacing that Last of Us’ original campaign greatly needed. Because Ellie and Riley explore a deserted mall, there’s no tension impatiently pushing you from one area to the next. You can just take your time and look around. It’s even encouraged, because the mall is littered with little things to check out.
If you played Last of Us’ main campaign, Left Behind gives context to Ellie’s character by showing it in organic gameplay. It’s refreshing because the main campaign features a lot of telling instead of showing, which is detrimental to crafting a believable story.
Left Behind also makes combat (which became far too repetitive in the original campaign) interesting because it pits the player, humans and infected together at certain points. You make the choice to alert the infected and set traps for them to attack human scavengers. Small innovations such as this take the otherwise overdone combat a long way. No matter what tweaks were done for combat scenarios, this DLC shines because of its story, character relationships and player-paced exploration.