The Last of Us is my favorite video game from last generation. TLoU is my favorite game of all-time; it was the second the screen cut to black. TLoU released in a year when I was starting to accept a lot of who I was growing up into.
I’ve always loved video games for as long as I can remember but when I was a kid, I’m 23 now, the pop culture that’s seen as cool now with the Marvel Cinematic Universe was seen as nerdy and stupid then. If you were a fan of comics and the like, you were alienated in high school. Games still are seen as babyish, but that’s another piece to write.
TLoU is special to me because it transcends games. Its story is more meaningful outside the confines of the fictional world its set in. No, there’s never going to be a cordyceps virus that turns people into Clickers. No, we won’t ever face the apocalypse or human extinction in our lifetimes. But it’s the story of Joel and Ellie and the human condition that’s told in TLoU that has stayed with me years.
I was telling my brother, I was concerned for a sequel to TLoU because of the place it holds in my heart and mind that I wouldn’t want this story to be tarnished in any way. Then, I played its DLC, Left Behind, for the first time since its release in 2014 recently. It reminded me of how much I love TLoU. It’s a story that makes me contemplate my own life, laugh at the little things in my day-to-day and cry at the realization over what I have.
The relationship between Riley and Ellie reminded me of people I’ve met over the last year who mean so much to me. I wouldn’t know what to do without them, honestly. I’ve grown as a person because of them, as Ellie does because of Riley, and vice-versa. Whatever time I do have with those people I’ve met I cherish, no matter how long it may be. It’s a bit of spoiler for Left Behind, but Riley said something to Ellie that is worth sharing:
We fight. There are a million ways we should’ve died before today. And a million ways we can die before tomorrow. But we fight… for every second we get to spend with each other. Whether its two minutes… Or two days… We don’t give that up.
May come off as super corny, but reading that quote aloud while I edited I couldn’t help myself from choking up a bit. I’m not going to give context as to when she said this, but it’s beautiful isn’t it? I cried because I thought of those people I’ve met who I can’t imagine my life without now. That’s special in itself.
TLoU and Left Behind’s story is one I take in my own life because we need to fight for those human interactions that make us better as people. Seeing Ellie’s growth too because of Riley shows how much the heart can open up when it feels free of judgement, criticism, hate… When it comes across love and genuine care, we really can do and be anything or anyone we want to be. That’s why I can’t wait for The Last of Us: Part II because I want more stories like this to continue to self-reflect through a medium I thoroughly enjoy.