The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC Review

The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC (PS3)
Developed by Naughty Dog
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Released February 14, 2014
Review Written March 8, 2014

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM THE MAIN CAMPAIGN. ONLY READ IF YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN.

Finally finding time to hit the keys again, here’s my review of The Last of Us DLC, Left Behind. As Naughty Dog’s first attempt at single player DLC following the positive reception of The Last of Us, this addition to the main story has some big shoes to fill. Not surprisingly, Left Behind does fill those shoes quite well in maintaining the story flow similar to the main game as well as bringing the emotional drama that many of us have come to savor from the Last of Us.

Left Behind’s entire three hour campaign sets us in the role of Ellie. Taking place a few months before the main game’s story as well as during a prominent section of the main game, Left Behind uses a method of slow growing tension that constantly keeps the player on edge. Knowing that certain events are about to transpire left me anticipating their occurrence during my entire playthrough. This setup actually worked in way that helped create a greater immersive experience. Naughty Dog went about this by utilizing interjectory flashbacks and flash-forwards to allow the player to recover from intense encounters while also fearing what else is ahead while they work towards the next flash-forward. Simply put, playing as Ellie in Left Behind is as nerve racking as it was in main story.

Naughty Dog says, “Happy Valentine’s Day!!!”

A new character introduced during Left Behind’s flashbacks is Riley, a friend of Ellie. Riley is actually a very likeable character, almost complementary to Ellie’s personality in a multitude of ways. During these flashbacks, Riley helps build more character development for Ellie that many fans wanted during the main story, and reminding us that Ellie is still a young girl growing in disease-ridden world. Interestingly the flashbacks involve mostly a bunch of mini-games and several opportunities for dialogue. These mini-games are the reason I felt the flashbacks were a sort of emotional break when interspersed between the flash-forwards, but the flashbacks didn’t offer full emotional leisure as you still expected a certain event to occur every time you returned to the flashback.

Speaking of the flash-forwards, this is where the meat of this DLC is at. Taking place immediately after Joel is impaled during the main story; these parts of Left Behind reveal the struggles Ellie had to go through to keep Joel barely hanging onto life. These segments were the most intense as Ellie would need to rely on stealth to survive against both infected and hunters. Battling against enemies while also being wary of a few jumpy moments, playing this portion was very satisfying as it helped divulge more of Ellie’s inner strength while presenting how she felt about her relationship with Joel. After seeing Ellie fight tooth and nail to keep Joel alive I began to feel more like Joel’s actions during the main story’s ending were within reason. Comparatively, if the roles were switched I would believe Ellie would have reacted in the same fashion; both needing to go off the deep end to maintain the last facet of survival.

Aim for the bushes!

In total Left Behind is a great addition to the Last of Us. Though there aren’t any big changes to the game’s mechanics, Naughty Dog did compose scenarios where the player could pit infected against hunters. These moments were always satisfying as I’d use them to take out the final survivors after initiating a battle amongst them via a bottle from the distance. In conclusion, the DLC is only three hours long at the cost of $15. This may seem like a bit of a stretch in terms of value, but as a fan of the game, Left Behind is a worthwhile addition. It’ll make you crave more of Last of Us’ universe while momentarily tiding you over until Naughty Dog’s next rendition. Go buy it and don’t get left behind…

Review Written by John of The Time Heist

Editorial Note: One thing I had on my mind after completing Left Behind was how thematically and visually symmetrical it was with the main game. Starting with someone waking up, ending with a reunion. The title Left Behind also summarizes the overall feeling within Last of Us’ universe. These people are the last of humanity, left behind while many turned into mushroom kingdom’s soldiers. Joel and Ellie not wanting to be left behind or leave each other behind. No one wants to be left behind but it happens. What possibly makes the game so emotionally gripping is its play upon this, you don’t want to lose someone who you’ve begun to care about. Not as painless as peeling a band-aid but as painful as a freshly received wound. This probably why the Last of Us will still be in the back of my thoughts for years to come.

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