I feel like it is still such a hard part of the industry to break past, despite strides being made and progress left and right, there is an obvious problem in the way things are being tackled (Outside of ND itself, because everywhere I have looked, it’s been Ellie right up there on their own personal products) and I’m sure plenty of people out there have better worded discussions on the matter than anything I could offer. That said, I’m absolutely proud of Naughty Dog for the way they handled this, which is something I feel is manifested in the gameplay itself.
SEMI SPOILER ALERT AHEAD if only because I can’t really dig into this without getting into the way perspective is handled in game:
There is something massively intelligent about the way that the Last of Us tells its story from various perspectives throughout the entire journey. Yes, for a over half the game, you are Joel, and yes, you share his motivations by the end of things whether you agree with his methods or not. But the amazing thing is that switch off where you start to understand Ellie— to really bond with her— just before you play as her. And I think it’s vitally important that they had Ellie be in your hands, fighting off infected and hunters so that you get a chance to not only connect with her on a deeper level, but understand just how good she is at holding her own. That she isn’t as strong as a grown ass, grizzled old man with 20 years in the thick of things, but she can handle what’s thrown at her just as well without help. She’s a fighter, she’s a survivor, and then, when we’re back behind the seat of Joel, we realize she’s also still a kid. She loves animals, she’s scared and she’s tired and she’s been struggling through the worst of it, but that hasn’t made her weak or in need of protection: we just want to protect her anyway.
You start the game as Sarah, you finish as Ellie, and damn if that isn’t a great way to underline the fact that the story isn’t really about Joel - it’s about Ellie.
So yeah, I’m glad Joel’s everywhere. Because when the next unsuspecting gamer picks up a controller expecting a hack and slash zombie apocalypse with Joel tearing through it like a beast, they’ll have those expectations turned on their head in the absolute best way possible. And probably love every minute of it.
(Made rebloggable by turquoisedesertsand ’s request!)