Naughty Dog has revealed in a PlayStation Blog post that the ability to freely play Ellie’s guitar in The Last of Us 2 wasn’t always on the cards, but said it was important due to the connection between her and Joel, who taught her how to play the instrument in the first place.
Designers Grant Hoechst and Mark Burroughs revealed that the team made a point of not making this into a standard rhythm game, as it would prove incongruous with the darker tone of The Last of Us.
A flashy guitar mini-game wouldn’t fit the tone of our post-apocalyptic environment. Moreover, Ellie playing guitar shouldn’t be about showing off your skills or fulfilling your dreams of being a rock star, it should be about remembering a loved one and expressing oneself through music to connect to them.
This was the origin of our Free Play (Practice) mode. This mode wasn’t our original intention, but rather an idea that emerged from expanding the system to multiple songs. Once we started down the Free Play rabbit hole, we got to lean even further into our goals of player expression.
In the end, the guitar section evolved into the freely playable minigame we have today, and we’re glad it did, as a rhythm-based game wouldn’t have had the same impact.
The Last of Us Part 2 was released on PS4 in June 2020.
[Source – PlayStation Blog]