The Last of Us: Part 2 again did what it promised and is the most beautiful story ever told in a video game. This zombie game is not about zombies or Infected. This game is about people. The Last of Us 2 holds up a mirror to humanity. And the reflection is not a pleasant sight.

At the beginning of the game, the main characters from the first part, Ellie and Joel, live in Jackson. They are part of a group of people who act as a community against the dangers of the outside world. It’s quite a nice place to stay, with beautiful forests, a playground for the children and even electricity to charge your walkman. Ellie is having a good time here and even finds love in Dinah, but happiness in this world is always short-lived.

A drama unfolds, after which Ellie heads to Seattle for revenge. It is essentially a simple story, just like in the original. It is the human storytelling that takes The Last of Us 2 to an unprecedented level. Ellie, Dina, Joel and his brother Tommy, they are all credible people who may not make the perfect choices, but are pure in their intentions. They are all people. Real people. And they have to do really inhumane things. The fact that the voice acting and motion capture is on point as always really helps in bonding with your character.

All of this is acted extremely well. Ashley Johnson, in particular, can be awarded this year, because her Ellie is truly phenomenal, again. It’s a difficult task to combine such a tough character, which eliminates strong opponents as if it were nothing, with a sensitive woman who drags a lot of luggage. Fortunately, Johnson knows to strike exactly the right tone: fragile if necessary, bone breaking if possible.

The grim message of the game is extended to combat. Blood splatters around the place and screen, Infected are cleaved without mercy and the many finishers are shown relentlessly. After you injure the last enemy in an area, he begs on his knees for his life. That does not stop Ellie from still getting the job done with a baseball bat, or any other weapon for that matter. At least, if you make that choice. After all, you are and remain only human.

All that violence starts to gnaw at you as a player. It gets in your head. Naughty Dog clearly has that effect in mind. Human guards call each other’s names and become audibly nervous when they can no longer find each other. Dogs moan when hit by a Molotov cocktail. And just like you, Ellie has a hard time with that. Every gutted throat carves a scar on her soul.

Everything in this sequel serves the human aspect. No single game element escapes that eye for detail. Seattle is beautiful, but completely destroyed. Each abandoned house with its unique interior tells its own story about the residents. Ellie visits abandoned offices, banks, aquariums and hospitals, and they all have their own atmosphere. Sometimes you stand in wonder for five minutes in the dressing room of a theater, maybe at the dozens of unique costumes, maybe at the walls covered with posters of bands that have ever performed there. The music store filled with albums and posters of the latest releases, at least at that time.

There is hardly any UI to pull you out of that world. Screen info is rarely to be seen. The game inventively uses the environment to pinpoint the next target. Light, for example, shows you the way, or the sound of your next enemy. In a certain section you have to go west, and it is noted that you can follow the setting sun. It is a very natural way to play a game. Disturbing waypoints or mini-maps are a thing of the past.

For a linear game, The Last of Us: Part 2 offers a lot of freedom. Not only in the way you fight, but also in exploring Seattle. You do not have to enter many buildings, but if you don’t want to run out of ammunition, it is worth going on a looting trip. It’s not very exciting to open drawers and cupboards all the time in search of stuff and bullets, but that just goes to show that Ellie needs all the tools she can get. In addition, background information or exciting battles can often be experienced in these optional areas.

The game has negatives. It has happened a few times that a companion got in the way. These AI-driven companions sometimes even tap you out of cover, making you noticed by an enemy. The hint system can also be painful. With a loud sound, the game makes it clear that you can get a hint if you don’t know where to go, while you are still looting the rooms. Fortunately, you can completely disable that system.

It is hardly noticeable. All systems, environments and story elements merge seamlessly. The fluid combat with which you can improvise unhindered plays wonderfully. The eye for details drags you all along in the game world. But in the end it is mainly the story that makes the most impression. The Last of Us: Part 2 is a game about people even more than other games. This game tears you up with emotional scenes, impactful moments and a grim look at what it means to be human, regardless of the background.



+ Smooth combat.
+ Beautiful environments.
+ Excellent story and acting.
+ Allot of attention to the smallest details.

– Annoying hint system
– Artificial intelligence sometimes gets in the way