Opinion: What The Last of Us Asks You
The degradation of society has been a topic of conversation for a lot of people. Reducing society from luxury to instinct always seems to capture the imagination. There are small examples through history. But even then, the fall of Rome and the descent into the Dark Ages are only small steps backward when compared with the plague in The Last of Us.
Naughty Dog’s last title for the PS3 sinks its hooks deep within your soul, pulls you right up into the face of a Clicker, and asks you some hard questions. The setting of The Last of Us is there to engage your imagination and help get your head wrapped around the concepts, themes, and decisions that the title is throwing at you. The setting and events themselves are so believable that you can’t help but to immerse yourself in it and start questioning your own decisions. Although the game offers you no direct choices, it asks you to ruminate on the story you’re presented. By showing you characters in conflict, it is asking you the question, “How can you survive?”
What would you do if a gang of clickers were between you and the way out of an abandoned subway? What would you do if you saw someone half infected and pinned down under a filing cabinet? What would you do when the only family you had left turned into slathering beast bent on eviscerating your throat with its teeth? What would you do to save humanity? What would you give up?
I found myself considering horrors that I’ll never face and determining how I’d react. The plausibility of The Last of Us’s human characters that Joel and Ellie encounter made my ponderings even more chilling. They are all people that have been faced with the same worldwide situation and all of them have reacted differently. You’re able to see whether they’ve wavered from the straight and narrow, clinging to what sense of decency they have left, or if they're so far flung from civilized life that they can barely be considered human anymore. It really made me ponder what sort of person I really would be when faced with unspeakable events.
Each of us who play the game will have our own answers. Whether we want to share them would be based on the present company because many of the answers we may not like. The Last of Us, like so many other great video games, asks you to examine yourself. A video game has the unique ability to let you live through a story in a digital realm, and like any other form of great entertainment, it can challenge you to consider your world and yourself in a different light.
For those of you that finished the game already. What would you have done in Joel or Ellie’s situation. Would you have reacted like them? Would you have cowered behind the walls under the tyranny of the military? Would you have joined up with the Fireflies? Would you have done the same as Joel?
I guess the most important question I'm trying to ask is, "What would you do?"