The Last of Us garnered a perfect score from SelectButton and become unanimously praised in the industry, exceeding the expectations from developer Naughty Dog and the aging PlayStation 3 platform, which would be made obsolete a few months later with the release of the PlayStation 4. Upon the announcement of Left Behind, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having any of the narrative reevaluated just because every game released needs downloadable content these days. Acting as a prequel, Left Behind tells the story of Ellie and Riley and how she became infected prior to the events that unfolded in The Last of Us.
Labeling Left Behind a prequel is only half true, as the two hour adventure follows Ellie through two timelines: when she is caring for Joel after escaping the University in Colorado and a few weeks before Marlene convinces Joel into taking Ellie with him.
The timelines show a vastly different Ellie, with the later sections focusing on her survival and the sequences with Riley heavily featuring exploration and narrative elements. Doing what young teenagers due best, Ellie and Riley sneak out of their room and escape to an off-limits mall nearby. Being born after the initial outbreak, both of the girls never had the luxury of shopping at a mall. Without the fear of the Infected, your time is spent visiting various stores, interacting with Riley about Halloween masks, taking pictures in a photo booth, and even playing an imaginary fighting game at an arcade. Ellie has a moment with a Magic 8-Ball style object, showcasing her innocence before the outbreak changed her life.
Switching back to the later timeline, Ellie searches for medical supplies for Joel and once again visits stores within a mall, but caution must be taking, as she isn’t alone. Without Joel’s assistance, she must seek out her own supplies (what I wouldn’t give for a few extra Molotov Cocktails), and avoid not only the remnants of humanity, but the nightmare-fuel creatures known as Clickers. In typical The Last of Us fashion, you’ll spend most of your time hiding behind cover, tossing bricks or bottles as distractions to sneak your way around. New to the game is the opportunity to trigger engagements between the cannibalistic humans and the Infected. There is nothing like tossing bottles at nearby guards, only to have the Infected come rushing in after them. It’s the small things in life that you have to enjoy.
My apprehension for The Last of Us: Left Behind quickly dissipated when it became clear that Naughty Dog treated both the fans and the original narrative with respect. Clocking in around 2 hours, Left Behind focuses more on filling in blanks in the story, but contains just enough action for those that enjoyed the engaging combat from The Last of Us. Hope you’ve sharpened your shiv.
Note: The Last of Us: Left Behind review was written based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.