The Last of Us: Left Behind Review (PS3)
The Last of Us has become a darling of modern videogames. Its story, its characters, and its maturity have garnered praise from nearly every corner of the globe. With the original release hitting all the high notes, it leaves any additional story content with some big boots to fill. And in that vein, enter Left Behind.
The first DLC offering for The Last of Us gives Ellie, returning from the original game, more of a backstory and explores the more child-like elements to her which The Last of Us only ever touched upon. At its core, Left Behind is a dive into the relationship between Ellie and her best friend Riley, and their exploits back in Boston. There isn’t much of an actual story at hand; instead there is simply the character development and fleshing out of Ellie, allowing her to feel like an even more rounded and natural character than she was in The Last of Us.
Left Behind plays a surprising move by not featuring much combat compared to the core game. The majority of the focus is placed firmly on Ellie and Riley’s relationship as they try to maintain some sense of friendship and childhood in a broken world. Ellie and Riley’s interaction is shown via flashbacks as Ellie recalls the events while seeking aid for an injured Joel. Developing their relationship is achieved by dialogue that feels both organic and grounded as the two characters interact with each other like people rather than cogs in a videogame story. Naughty Dog have crafted a friendship that feels legitimate, while remaining relevant to the game’s universe.
There are a number of moments sprinkled throughout Left Behind which create a sense of understanding and empathy between the player and both Ellie and Riley. It’s clear there has been a major effort in reinforcing that both characters have grown up in a destroyed world, robbed of a genuine childhood, yet they make the best of the situation through friendship. Left Behind carries a distinct undertone similar to films such as Stand By Me; this works perfectly within the context of the situation Ellie and Riley find themselves in.
Away from the story–or lack thereof–there are a few instances of combat. Ellie is given very limited supplies, forcing the player to think tactically to use the game’s mechanics to their advantage. The lack of bullets and supplies gives Left Behind a distinctly more survival horror tone compared to the core story. More often than not the player is forced to use nearby infected to attack bandits, creating an opportunity for Ellie to escape from danger. It’s an element that is utterly satisfying to utilize and forces the question of why it wasn’t included in the The last of Us more often.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with Left Behind, it does feel slightly lacking given the price. Two hours of gameplay for £11.99, with lengthy portions dedicated to talking and character interaction, feels a little steep. While the writing and voice acting is sublime, there isn’t a whole lot to actually play that will leave a lasting impression. The ending of the content requires the player to either look up the events of the spin-off comic (American Dreams), or purchase said comic, which contributes to Left Behind’s price point looking even less appealing.
The Last of Us is a fantastic game, but Left Behind feels more like a deleted scene rather than genuine new content. The £11.99 price point is just too hard to ignore for what’s on offer, which is unfortunate. Those simply looking for more backstory on Ellie, and those who enjoy quality dialogue and voice acting, will be satisfied with Left Behind. The people wanting a more well-rounded addition to The Last of Us’ universe may feel slightly short-changed. It’s a shame that the negatives are mostly results of a rather greedy admission fee, as the experience itself is more than worth playing.