I remember playing through The Last of Us for the first time. I remember every moment that I felt helpless and was left emotionally damaged after a scene. I remember almost every human enemy that got in my way. I remember the fear of not knowing what was coming next. The power that The Last of Us had on me made me feel less like a gamer, and more like a part of the world that the developers at Naughty Dog were trying to create.
The world within The Last of Us is not a kind or forgiving world by any means, and this is boiled down to a human’s quest for survival. Throughout the player’s journey, there are many people who want to kill Joel and Ellie, but their motivation for survival keeps them alive and we quickly find out that they will make sure they stay alive by any means necessary.
From what we have seen in teaser trailers of Naughty Dog’s upcoming The Last of Us: Part II, the world hasn’t gotten better since the conclusion of The Last of Us and if it has, some groups don’t want it to. We already knew of the existence of Joel and Ellie from the first game, but with this newest trailer we meet several new characters, including a (currently unnamed) female survivor played by Laura Bailey.
This trailer for The Last of Us: Part II is gruesome, hurtful, and emotionally charged; but most of all, it’s powerful. There isn’t a clear “silver lining” moment: Laura Bailey’s character is put through multiple trials as she struggles for her life. Viewers are forced to helplessly watch her hung by the neck from a noose, while a knife is dragged across her belly by a crazed cultist. During this scene alone, my fists clenched as I felt my mouth become dry. I was mesmerized, and as much as I hated the imagery because of its graphic nature, I couldn’t turn away.
This is because, like when I played through The Last of Us, I felt like I was there. I felt the rush of emotion as thoughts of “How the hell are we going to get out of this one?” filled my head. Then a new character, Yara (voiced by Victoria Grace), was dragged in and I was shown just how serious these enemies were about their idea of the world they want to live in.
This scene is of much debate because we as gamers (and even moviegoers) are used to these scenes and the clever cutaway editing that is used to give us a similar emotional impact, without showing the actual event (or even misdirecting viewers). This trailer doesn’t do that: again we are forced to feel the pain of this world, such as when we are watching a human’s arm being brutally broken.
Shortly after, I felt the breath that I had been unknowingly holding in for the entire trailer escape my mouth as an arrow flew into the face of the survivors that were brutally harming Yara. I was relieved at that moment and truly felt the adrenaline rushing through me, only wishing I had a controller in my hands so I can get in on the action first-hand.
My savior in the trailer was Lev (voiced by Ian Alexander), but to him I was still a threat. Thankfully, he released me from my noose grave and I could live, if only a little bit longer. However, this wouldn’t last for long as the trailer concludes with infected Clickers rushing towards our group for a meal. However, it wasn’t actually me; it was Laura Bailey’s unnamed character who was saved, and I was just a passenger along for the ride on this emotional journey.
The power that this individual trailer has over the viewer is shared by anyone who watches it. I began the trailer as a spectator, but then found myself experiencing these moments and this world through the eyes of Laura Bailey’s character. Sure, this is violence to the highest degree; but it’s necessary to transport us to the violent, unforgiving world that was created in The Last of Us, a world that many gamers would say is one of their favorite gaming experiences to date.
This trailer for The Last of Us: Part II proves that the series is more than just providing violence for the sake of violence; it also sets out to make sure we understand why this is happening. This world isn’t kind and it isn’t forgiving; there are evil people out there and most can’t be trusted.
In the world of The Last of Us: Part II, humans have one mission and one mission only: to survive. Whether that’s joining a group who prey on weak individuals or fighting for a peaceful future, we will do whatever it takes to make sure we see tomorrow, and anyone who gets in our way will not be met kindly.