Last year Naughty Dog surprised many by releasing a new IP, The Last of Us. Most of those who played it were blown away with what Naughty Dog had produced and it received strong ratings from reviewers globally. I was lucky enough to review it here on Console Domination and found myself in awe of the emotional story and felt a strong feeling of empathy toward the characters. (I admit it, a few tears were released along the way). With the release of The Last of Us there was a promise of a single player story DLC to follow. When I had finally finished Joel and Ellie’s story and had had time to digest the complete story I started to ponder on what this DLC could contain. Could it be one of the many non-player characters that you met along the journey with their own story, or a tale that falls either before or after that of the main story? Could Naughty Dog surprise all and have completely new characters in some sort of parallel time line that ties in with the storyline? Now my questions have finally been answered with the release of Left Behind.
Warning if you have not completed Last of Us this may contain spoilers!
Left Behinds timeline starts in the middle of the main story with Joel seemingly falling to his death on an iron spike and Ellie desperately trying to save him. It is an interesting and somewhat obvious choice as during the game this time seemed to have had a large portion skipped. Ellie finds solace in a mall and needs to find some medical supplies to save her friend (father figure perhaps) Joel who is losing a lot of blood and coming closer to death. During this time within the mall our teenage hero has flash backs to a time before Joel had entered her life and her immunity to the virus was unknown. From here on you play your way through both present time and the flash backs.
Left Behind looks, feels and sounds exactly the same as The Last of Us or at least the Ellie controlled part. All of the required voice cast has returned also which is great, such a talented cast. The climbing, crafting, combat and problem solving all returns all be it in less moderation. The reason for this is the length of this story. It took me three and a half hours to complete and I took my time with it, trying to explore everything and keep conversations to a maximum. I also died around fourteen times so the content here is short.
This is where Left Behind suffers. The thing that made The Last of Us so amazing was the emotional connection, the deep and lengthy journey and the time to really grow attached to the characters. With Left Behind due to the short length I did not develop that connection as strongly. The flash back scenes involve Ellie’s best friend Riley. Riley is a likable character but due to these sequences taking around one hour and fifteen minutes I never had the emotional investment of the main stories characters. I also seemed to have lost this connection with Joel and Ellie also, perhaps this was due to the length of time between the release of the dlc and the game (8 months is a long time no matter how you look at it).
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Left Behind very much. It was just impossible to regain the impact that was felt eight months ago considering the brief story within Left Behind. The game still played extremely well and it was fantastic to revisit the post-apocalyptic world that Naughty Dog created. I just wish the wait was not so long, either that or the dlc had an extra hour to make me feel those same feelings I had first time round.