The Last of Us is arguably the dopest game of the Playstation 3′s generation, so it made perfect sense for developer Naughty Dog to want to tap into the greatness one more time. With Left Behind the single-player DLC for The Last of Us, Naughty Dog has developed another stellar installment for the goose bump-inducing franchise.
Left Behind uses the best elements from The Last of Us, to tell a short story about Ellie’s transition into adulthood. The stories intertwine split across time, but are tied together in both setting (shopping malls) and characters with a deep connection to Ellie (Joel and Riley). We get a true taste for Ellie’s connection with Riley, and how that helps form who she’s become by the time she meets Joel. Intercut with a sequence set in a gap in the The Last of Us‘ timeline, Left Behind focuses most on 14-year-old Ellie’s life before she meets Joel. Down in the dumps about her time at a military boarding school, Ellie gets a surprise when her friend Riley (who she hasn’t seen in a long time) shows up. After some banter between the two where they get caught up, they proceed to go on a dangerous adventure into a city filled with the deadly infected.
Have to give Naughty props from not offering up the typical tacked on prequel and instead served up a story that flows seamlessly within the events of The Last of Us. While a large part of the game does take place prior to the events of The Last of Us, there’s also another plotline that hasn’t been revealed – one that depicts some events that take place during one of the season changes in the original. The result of this decision bears a DLC with a credible plot and a strong rhythm that doesn’t throw the whole story out of whack.
The gameplay in the roughly 2 hour long campaign is somewhat identical to The Last of Us with the other side of the story more focused on The Last of Us‘ frantic combat. There are new gameplay mechanics with the addition of multi-faction combat (Hunters and Infected in the same fight) as well as a heavy emphasis on narrative and exploration. You’ll navigate the environment using stealth and take on enemies, with limited ammo and Ellie’s knife. Many of the situations play out more like puzzles and you’ll be able to use things like bottles or other distractions to get your enemies to fight each other. There were plenty of situations where I used the enraged infected to clear the room of the people hunting me which allowed me to use stealth to sneak past unnoticed.
Left Behind is a bit pricey ($14.99) for such a short experience, but Naughty Dog has succeeded in expanding its apocalyptic story in a beautifully-realized foray back into the dangerous world Joel and Ellie inhabit. For The Last of Us fans, this is a ride well worth embarking on.-DJ Rhude