The Last of Us: Left Behind Review: More great storytelling leaves less room for gameplay
- Posted February 14th, 2014 at 00:59 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Such is the high bar set by Naughty Dog that we expected a little more from this bite-sized DLC package. Nonetheless, Left Behind is gloriously produced with an excellent storyline spin-off that gives you a deeper insight into Ellie's character.
- Stunning recreation of an abandoned shopping mall. Graphically unmatched throughout.
- Strong storytelling and character building gives you insight into another side of Ellie
- Excellent voice acting with real emotion from the two main characters
- Ending could have made even more of an impact
- More character-building means less time for gameplay highlights
- A particular jarringly difficult combat section where death is inevitable
Both actresses do a commendable job at building up the relationship with heartfelt dialogue and, just like the main campaign, facial animations capture every moment of emotion, leaving you glued to the screen. Naughty Dog builds up that bond superbly between the two throughout the journey, before throwing in an emotional curve ball that we won’t spoil here. Nevertheless, Left Behind finishes rather flat, leaving you guessing at what might have happened next, when it would have been far bolder--and more exciting--to have ended it properly and leave us reeling at the conclusion.
In terms of gameplay, Left Behind is a mixed bag. Slow-paced, dialogue-heavy exploration takes precedence, building up the relationship between the two girls extremely well, but there are times when it’s overplayed a little too much and we were left desperate for something more interesting to happen. In terms of standout moments, however, the unique mini-game in an abandoned arcade is excellent and a stand-out chase scene near its conclusion ramps up the pace nicely.
In all fairness, Naughty Dog does cram a lot into two hours, with bouts of combat and environmental puzzle-solving also taking up some of your time. The latter is fairly standard stuff, with the obligatory ‘push a crate’ and ‘switch on a generator’ side tasks, while combat will be instantly familiar for those who have played the main campaign, with pistols, bows, and shotguns being the main weapons of choice against the Infected and human enemies.
Once again, there are lots of items to scavenge, like rags, alcohol, and blades that can be crafted into the likes of Molotov cocktails, health kits, and nail bombs. And you'll need them--humans and Infected swarm you on more than a few instances. It’s good fun trying to draw the Infected over to the humans and watch them attack or just setting a bunch of them alight and watching them run around screeching, but we found ourselves dying more in this DLC than the main game because some areas are particularly overcrowded with enemies. When supplies are so scarce, this certainly led to some frustration and multiple restarts.
Though the ending of Left Behind could definitely have had even more impact, and the slower-paced sections could have been a little less long-winded, Left Behind is once again a glorious production, with the finely detailed Boston shopping mall an absolute delight to explore. Though the two hours flew by and we were left wishing there was another hour or two of gameplay, the slick animation, great voice acting, and emotive storytelling alone are sure to win over any fan of The Last of Us. If you were already looking forward to The Last of Us 2, Left Behind will leave you even more desperate to get your hands on a potential second installment of Naughty Dog’s award-winning new IP.
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