Review: The Last of Us – Left Behind / Developer: Naughty Dog / Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment / Platform: Playstation 3 / Release Date: Out Now
Set during the winter events of The Last of Us, Left Behind’s DLC sees Ellie scavenging medical supplies for a badly wounded Joel. Avoiding Clickers and the hordes of hostile humans hunting for prey, Ellie begins to think back to the times before meeting Joel, and the last moments she shared with a childhood friend.
While anyone who has played The Last of Us before will know how both of these stories end, the game does a remarkable job of fleshing out the events. The hints of each character’s past are utilised here, with players finally seeing a crucial moment which shaped Ellie’s outlook on life. At the same time the DLC expands upon a largely skipped chapter in a way that greatly benefits the overall game, with each story complementing the other. The flashbacks introduce her initial skills and provide a relatively few genuinely happy moments to contrast with the desperate struggle of current events. Ellie’s search in the winter meanwhile retains the bleak atmosphere of the original and her harrowing journey.
Along with telling us of the history of the DLC’s protagonist, Left Behind’s mechanics are introduced in surprisingly well integrated ways. These are usually as a part of her history via some almost prophetic flashback scenes, many of which introduce her skills in some innocent manner only for them to become crucial in the current story’s life or death situations.
Said situations consist of facing down handfuls of foes at a time and more often than not having to utterly avoid them. Unlike the nearsighted foes with little to no short term memory which populate the likes of Metal Gear Solid, those found in The Last of Us provide far more of a challenge. Confronting them directly or even trying to pick them off one by one will likely backfire on you horrifically. Instead it is often the better option to use environmental means or other elements to deal with hostile foes.
The environments are as beautifully morose as those found in the original. Crumbling buildings, streets teeming with wildlife and overgrown habitats are as great here as we've come to expect. With missions designed more for greater stealth this time, you’re granted more opportunities to move past foes and it’s made clear just how vulnerable Ellie is to the better-armed foes she faces.
There really is very little to criticise here without reducing the review to pedantic nitpicking. Everything which the original got right is nailed here, the mechanics remain fairly solid and the DLC’s integration into the overall plot helps make its short length almost unnoticeable. If you have The Last of Us and want more, this really is an essential development within the story.