The Last of Us EP30: The Life of Riley

By Shamus Posted Saturday Dec 13, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 48 comments

Link (YouTube)

Okay, this is really gross, but I want to… uh… admire(?) the attention to detail on the bites on these characters. Check out the way blood flows out of the wound properly, gets wiped away, and then more flows. That kind of thing must be a monumental pain in the ass to get right. Even movies don’t usually take the time to make it look that good.

Beyond that technical note, I don’t have much else to say. You’ve heard me complain about the bandits already. And I really can’t add much to the emotional moments. This a powerful moment in the story, and Naughty Dog knocked it out of the park.

I suppose we can compare this with WATCH_DOGS, which also tried to use the death of young people as an emotional catalyst. Only WATCH_DOGS was shockingly stupid, clumsy, tone-deaf, inept, badly paced, not-characterized, and transparently manipulative. It’s easy to watch the scene where Bob Watchdog’s niece gets killed by evil hackers or whatever. I can make jokes about it. Heck, I could sing showtunes while while she bled out on the pavement and not feel the least bit bad. But this scene in the Last of Us is so brutal that I had trouble getting through it a second time while preparing this post.

It’s like the moment in the Walking Dead where you make those last few dialog choices with Clementine: This is the kind of moment that sticks with you long after the game is over.

EDIT: OH yes. ONCE AGAIN, some jackass company has decided to block our video because “OH NOES. MUH COPIERITES!”

If I was a AAA developer, I’d be looking for my soundtrack music in the indie scene just to avoid having license-holders block everyone trying to LP my game.


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48 thoughts on “The Last of Us EP30: The Life of Riley

  1. Warrax says:

    “I suppose we can compare this with WATCH_DOGS, [SNIP] shockingly stupid, clumsy, tone-deaf, inept, badly paced, not-characterized, and transparently manipulative. [SNIP] I can make jokes about it. [SNIP] But this scene in the Last of Us is so brutal that I had trouble getting through it a second time while preparing this post.”

    Great explanation of how MST3K/Rifftrax work.

    Video games are still very much all over the place in terms of how well they convey pathos; from “no attempt” to “hilariously inept attempt” to “hey, that actually works.”

    Strange to think how we are comparatively just now coming out of the drive-in double-feature era of game narrative.

  2. Mersadeon says:

    It says the video isn’t available.

    1. Wolf says:

      Hola set to America works.

    2. Corpital says:

      I can’t see the episodes full of emotions and am sad about it. Further proof we don’t need better graphics for emotions.

      I am also not a spammer. Promised!

      1. Ivan says:

        While I agree on principal, I don’t think The Last of Us is a great example of that. It has all the feels because of great writing and execution but I wouldn’t exactly call ellie’s face last gen graphics.

  3. McNutcase says:

    I have to give them credit for attention to detail. We actually see Ellie’s bite happen, in the QTE cutscene.

    And… wow. That hit hard just to watch. Even if this game were ever ported to a platform I would play on (very much not a fan of consoles or of shooting with a controller) I’m not sure I’d have the fortitude to play it.

    1. ET says:

      I’d grit my teeth and make my way through the game’s emotional bits…if they ported it to PC. :S

  4. Draca says:

    I really love how the information about Ellie in the DLC makes Joel’s “You have no idea what loss is” so much worse.

    Not only has Ellie witnessed her friend killed the infection, both fully aware it would happen, but at that point probably given up on her own life. Sarah got shot in surprise and had a quick and painless death. Joel should just suck it up

    1. el_b says:

      quick and painless? rewatch that scene dude.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      And not only were they aware of it,but it was elleis fault that riley got bit,yet it was ellie that had the fortune of being immune.

      But el_b is correct,sarah didnt die painlessly,she was hit in the stomach.Thats a terrible way to die.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Seriously,whose idea was it to make arrows more lethal than bullets?I mean every game has bows as these super weapons while guns are just peashooters.Its ridiculous.And this isnt one of the modern hi tech bows either.Youd be lucky if you could down a cat with that dingy thing.

    1. Sigilis says:

      We’re only using guns now because bows were outlawed as weapons of mass destruction.

    2. I’m guessing it was an attempt at game balance. Nocking them takes more preparation than firing a gun, and everyone knows that the more time it takes to set up a weapon, the more damage it does.

      It’s kind of how melee attacks manage to often do more damage than ranged attacks in video games to “reward” melee characters for having to close the distance to their targets. Or something like that.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Balance is fine in games where you have bunch of ammo and competitive side.But in a game that hinges on realism?

        Besides,you can always put the bow as the beginning weapon instead of the handgun.Heck,in this game you dont even need balance since ammo is so scarce that youll often shuffle weapons if you rely on fighting a lot.

        1. I didn’t say they were good reasons, just video game-y reasons.

          And let’s be honest, here: The combat itself is among the least realistic parts of this game. The weapons don’t make sense, the number of enemies don’t make sense, and Protagonist Von Damage Sponge doesn’t make sense.

      2. Tom says:

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s the real reason the bow was made super-lethal, but it’s an unrealistic and, worse, unnecessary balance, because the bow already has a colossal advantage over the gun, in this kind of game especially, in that it’s practically silent. Another potential and plausible advantage (that other games like Thief have used) would be that missed arrows could be collected and reused after the fight.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,sorry to tell you this,but I just had the “This webpage is not available” moment when trying to post a comment.It lasted for about two minuts of refreshing before it got back.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,which game do you guys think had the worst some kid dying scene?Watch dogs,mass effect 3 or modern warfare 3?

    For me,its mw3,because it never even got referenced anywhere else,nor was it important in any way.Definitely the low point of the franchise.Yes,worse even than pressing f to pay respects.

    1. IFS says:

      I haven’t seen Watch_Dogs scene but for me I’d say ME3 because they have the gall to keep reminding you about it in really slow and annoying dream sequences throughout the game.

    2. skellie10 says:

      I’m going to disagree with everyone and say Watch_Dogs because the entire plot of game hinges on you caring about the kid’s death at all.

      1. You could swap out “Watch_Dogs” and “Mass Effect 3” and get the same result.

        Did the Watch_Dogs kid show up as a hologram at the end of the game, too?

        1. IFS says:

          More importantly if he does show up as a hologram can you hack him to make him leave?

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      I’m sad that I’m flying.

  8. Thomas says:

    The “no enemies remaining” cue does destroy tension. It’s not just the bark that Chris pointed out, as soon as the last enemy is dead your walking speed changes and your character puts their weapon away

  9. Thomas says:

    I also haven’t played The Walking Dead Season 2 yet, despite actually owning it.

    I think for me it’s because the first game provoked so much negative emotion, it takes a non-zero amount of effort to actually start playing the next one. You have to subconsciously prepare yourself for a beating

    1. Chris Davies says:

      You needn’t worry so much, nothing in 2 is anywhere near as gut-wrenching as the end of 1. In fact, I found the ending I chose (there are more than one) to be pretty cathartic, though I can’t say much more than that without spoiling it for you.

  10. Dt3r says:

    I can explain the minor injuries causing death. You see, on mooks the ankle is a vital organ.

  11. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I just want to make a small correction to the episode.

    El Diablo means “Of The Diablo”

    1. I think you’ll find that “Del Diablo” is “Of The Diablo.”

      You can tell the difference because El Diablo drags you off to a fiery pit and Del Diablo comes with a side of fries.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I know. It was meant to be a callback to their discussion about Del Taco (I’ve watched these shows way too many times while programming)

        One of them said Del Taco meant “The Taco” before the other corrected and said it meant “Of The Taco.”

        1. Yes, in the Fallout New Vegas season (the episode is even titled, “Of The Taco”). That’s why I mentioned fries.

  12. bigben1985 says:

    Is the video blocked worldwide now? Neither my unblocker nor hola works…

    1. lethal_guitar says:

      It works for me with ProxMate (In Germany)

  13. Dovius says:

    I was about to note that you had misspelled/misnamed Aiden Pearce, but it took me a solid 40 seconds to remember his name myself, so Bob Watchdog will probably just be my go-to name for him as well from now on.

  14. I’m disappointed. I was hoping Ellie ministering to Joel would have required the player to use the same gameplay mechanics as Surgeon Simulator 2013.

  15. Tulgey Logger says:

    Shub-Niggurath’s tomb? Please. Any goofus who’s read the prolegomenon to the introduction to the back cover flap of the Necronomicon knows the ammo for the Lightning Gun is kept in the cyclopean and many-columned halls of Y’ha-nthlei.

    1. I like to think that the non-Euclidian nature of the realms containing cosmic horrors are malleable to the psyches of those who enter. If you’re a focused soldier o’ death, the boxes spit out ammo, health, and weapons. If you’re a normal person… well, we don’t know, since you probably died long before you got that far.

  16. qosiejfr oiq qp says:

    I like how the game doesn’t spell out Riley’s fate. She could be immune too! Right? right??

    I need a hug.

    1. krellen says:

      That would be nice to believe, except we already heard Ellie tell Joel “Everyone I have ever cared about has left me”.

      And now I made myself sad again.

      1. “Left” doesn’t mean “died,” man!

        Ellie could just have said something insensitive or made a pun so awful that even Reilly couldn’t stomach being around her anymore. The possibilities are endless!

  17. Jarenth says:

    So, speaking as a storyteller and an insurmountable nerd with no sad feelings whatsoever, nuh-uh, go away, I like that this DLC has a really good answer to A question I’d been wondering about, which is ‘how did Ellie ever find out she’s immune?’.

    In The Last Of Us’ post-outbreak, both the spore zombies and their bite are incredibly lethal. And people can see what happens to the infected, and that it ain’t pretty. So for someone to ‘discover’ they’re immune to the disease, you require a scenario where: a) they get attacked by zombies, b) but not by either so many zombies that they die outright or so little zombies that they’re never in danger, c) get bitten, d) not be willing or in a position to kill themselves over it, and e) not be around people who’d make that choice fór them. How many other people in this universe never figured out they were immune because they were killed right after being bitten?

    It’s an incredibly specific and rare scenario, and I’m giving full kudos to Left Behind for setting it up in a reasonably believable manner.

    1. ET says:

      That’s actually a pretty good point. However, we’re going with movie-story rules, where you’re not supposed to think about that sort of thing. In reality, there’d be at least one improvised hospital/lab, where a doctor entraps random people, chains them to the wall, then infects them to see if they are immune. :)

    2. hewhosaysfish says:

      As to pont (b): once Ellie had fallen of the scaffold and the two both revealed they were bit, where did the rest of the zombies go?
      Were there only two chasing them? Are no more going to charge in and spoil all the emotioning that’s going on?

      It’s as if the surprising-well-coordinated zombie flanking attack heard them say they were bit and the zombies said to themselves “Welp, our work here is done. Let’s go for an early of lunch. Not a lunch of teen girl though because of reasons”.

      OTOH I did like that the DLC didn’t include a scene where Ellie has to tearfully shoot her (girl)friend after she turns into a zombie. I was kinda expecting it but instead the game just had them swear to stay together until the end and then -boom- here’s the title screen, DLC over.

      Because you already know where this story ends and the game makers know thet you know and it’s all the more powerful for not being said.

  18. SpaceSjut says:

    Holy f***… this DLC is one of the most powerful game-stories I’ve encountered so far. I’m really impressed how this worked out, and the designers who are responsible for this should make their argumentation to get this past the suits open source.

  19. silver Harloe says:

    Those dang ninjas, always sneaking up on me and chopping onions.

  20. Phil says:

    Hmm, so our characters are The Lie and Jo The?

  21. RCN says:

    “That game was great, save for the gameplay.”

    Very faint praise here, huh? Well, this could be applied to The Walking Dead, Spec Ops: The Line and Planescape: Torment as well, but at least you could argue that there was gameplay in the conversations and choices in those games, or that the gameplay was integral for the narrative.

    The Last of Us is like Metal Gear. One hell of a long movie intersected by a bunch of filler gameplay. But at least The Last of Us is a GOOD movie.

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