Just going to say this early on that this post will contain major spoilers for the game.
Overall thoughts: I would recommend the game to others. Aside from narrative, how much I was entertained by a game is a huge factor in whether or not I enjoy it. I will also say that the entertainment spiked in the beginning and then didn’t quite resurface until the last third of the game for me. However, there is A LOT that this game offers and I fully acknowledge it.
Favorite things: Soundtrack, environment, character development, writing, and voice acting.
Not so favorite things: Mechanics, story.. did I mention mechanics?
I do realize that I have an unpopular opinion here when I say that story wasn’t my favorite thing. And let me differentiate between writing and story. The dialogue was superb. I loved the characters and how their paths were executed. But the story as a whole didn’t grasp me. I will explain that later.
I believe there are quite a few things that have affected my experience of the game.
The hype. As much as I try to stay away from hype (as opposed to strong recommendations), I do believe the constant telling of “OMFG THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER. IT’S MY FAVORITE. YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT” killed some of the hype I would have experienced with it. I try to keep my expectations to a reasonable standard, but once I announced my desire to play the game, my expectations of it inevitably grew. I wanted my feelings to mirror those of who played the game previously. More than a few people have told me that they wish they could wipe the game from their memory just so they could experience it again. That’s quite a compliment. Unfortunately, after completion, it ended up being that I did not share the sentiment.
Streaming. Entertaining an audience while trying to focus on a game exhausts a lot of energy. I think I did a pretty good job of equally distributing my energy between the two, so I can’t fully say if this contributed to me not being completely connected to the game. I know how I feel once I bond to a game regardless if I am streaming or not, and I did not quite feel that with TLoU though I really wanted to.
Predictability. Aside from David being revealed to be creepy AF (seriously, eff that guy), the story was highly predictable. It wasn’t hard to determine what would happen to who ie…Tess and Henry, and it was pretty easy to figure out how the game would end. Admittedly, I was about 80% right. For fun, I will write out how the ending played out in my head. I came up with the scenario after I played the Winter chapter. And hands down, Winter was the best part of the entire game aside from the DLC.
However, as I said before, I separate writing from overall story. I very much enjoyed the characters. They were done so well, even David. Each of them served a purpose, each of them were different and held their own. I don’t believe there was a weak character in the story. Certainly, some were held longer in the spotlight than others, but I didn’t feel that any of them were filler or fluff. I didn’t have to question why they existed. Even a damn deer played an important role.
The game itself was damn beautiful. That paired with its amazing effing soundtrack was such a lovely experience for those particular senses. I couldn’t get over the details of the world. Everything about the environment was 10/10 would stare at again. The parts that were beautiful were mesmerizing and the parts that were meant to scare you were pretty terrifying. Seriously, hats off to the teams who were involved with all of the above. My eyeballs and earholes thank you.
What did take me completely away from the game many times was the mechanics. I. Loathed. The. Mechanics. Most of my rage spewed out of me whenever an NPC was being anything but stealthy or when I had to make sure that I had my firearm selected because I couldn’t remember exactly what I had currently equipped in my invisible arsenal. Seriously, the gun would be holstered after about five seconds of inactivity. Anything you would have equipped (bow, firearm, smoke bomb) would be “put away” after inactivity, however, when it came down to the second you needed your firearm, that trigger function would bring up whatever item you selected last. You ever try to shoot a Clicker with a mine? It’s not very effective.
I’m horrible at stealth games, always have been. I was genuinely scared that a lot of the gameplay in TLoU relied on stealth, but I did my best. It was incredibly difficult for me to gauge how far away I had to be from infected so they wouldn’t be able to detect me. It was near impossible for me to effectively use bottles and bricks because everywhere I threw them, they were apparently just outside of an enemy’s “awareness range” or what have you. And if I was successfully sneaking around, an NPC would just fire a round off and alert the whole damn city where we were. That last one enraged me to no end. If a game wants to add stealth, then either give a player NPCs that are also stealthy or give the player the option to make an NPC aggressive or pull back entirely. I cannot tell you how many times Ellie or Bill or whoever got me killed or made my experience a living hell because they were too trigger happy.
The ending. Just FYI, this is my blog, so I’m writing entirely in my own opinion. I was fine with the ending up until Joel lied. Now there’s a lot to process here. Is Joel a bad man? Yes and no. He acted as I think most loving parents would. I did say multiple times that I believe Joel would say “phuq mankind” in the end and he did. I did not anticipate him doing the same to Ellie. What I mean by that is by lying to her, he effectively damaged or even destroyed his relationship with her. All that time building that bond, putting up with all the BS that the world had to throw at them and he lies to her. She’s not stupid. She already has her suspicions and I don’t think she bought his “yeah, I was telling the truth” either.
Is Joel a good man? Yes and no. He’s an average guy who was placed in very traumatic situations. He has protected people he’s cared for, but it’s no secret that he’s done some shady shit in his past. He has never been completely selfless, so it wasn’t a surprise for me when he took Ellie from the Fireflies. But I was not expecting him to be so selfish as to lie to her. I think it was part a) he knew Marlene was right and that Ellie would sacrifice herself b) he didn’t want to lose a second daughter and c) he would rather Ellie hate him while she was alive.
I don’t think he realizes that her hating him for what he did will be, in a way, worse than if she were dead. Should she figure out that he lied, she could do everything she can to leave him and go back to the Fireflies. The world had taken everyone she ever loved from her. And now the one person she loves betrays her; she wouldn’t be able to trust again and could set her down an escalated tragic hero path. Speculation, but the lying just threw me. It struck me as instead of the Fireflies killing her, he did, but metaphorically.
I could write a lot more, but this post is long enough as it is. Bottom line is that the good things about the game were great and the bad things about the game made me miserable. I recognize why so many people have such high praise for TLoU, and while I wouldn’t say that the game is a top 3 favorite, there is no doubt that it’s a good game overall, and again, I would recommend it to friends.
If you care to read more, this was my end game prediction I concocted in my head after I played Winter. I’m more than likely going to write this as a fanfiction. Don’t judge. Fanfiction is awesome.
Joel and Ellie would make it to the Fireflies. Of course, they have every intent on creating a cure; however, they find that the process to make this vaccine would ultimately end up killing Ellie. And it wouldn’t be a humane death. She would suffer. Joel wasn’t going to have any of that. So he thinks “phuq mankind” and tries to bust him and Ellie out of there. He fails. Ellie ends up mid-process in whatever round of testing they run on her, it goes wrong and she’s in so much pain ,there is no way to reverse it or help her. Joel is placed in a very emotional position. He makes the decision to kill her. The last scene is Ellie’s grave next to Sarah’s and he’s singing to them.