And now . . . *SPOILERS* (Gaming)

by cheapLEY @, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 18:03 (22 days ago) @ cheapLEY

Just a random collection of thoughts, here.

Let's start with the obvious--I think Abby is brilliant. It's probably the most divisive aspect of this game. I think it totally works. The presentation of her story was great.

I also love the pacing of the game. I have seen lots of comments wishing that they had flipped perspectives every day, so you play Day 1 as both characters, then Day 2. I'm glad they didn't. The game works much better as it is--play all the way through as Ellie, sharing her desire for revenge, wreaking havoc to get that revenge at any cost. Only afterwards do you get to see the other side, and get the humanization of the people you've been killing. The only thing I would have changed is to cut Abby's section from the prologue, so you only play as Ellie and then stumble upon Joel's murder as confused as Ellie is. Then, after Ellie's Day 3, go all the way back to the prologue as Abby. I'm not sure why they did it they way the did. It feels sort of at odds with what they seemingly were trying to accomplish with the perspective shift in the rest of the game.

I'm also a little surprised that Abby's 3 days didn't intertwine with Ellie's more. I sort of assumed that we would see (or hear about) all of her friends' murders, and Abby either trying to find Ellie or possibly trying to hide. As it is, Abby really only learns about it at the end. Which is fine, I found what she was doing pretty compelling.

I really liked the brief open-world segment in Ellie's Day 1. I think it worked well for what it was. I sort of wish the entire game had been like that--I can imagine having a decent chunk of the city to explore, trying to find Abby's friend's one by one. On the other hand, that might be a little too video gamey for way the story is handled. I'm not sure you could make that work and make it feel as good as a set progression. It was fun segment, though.

I think Abby's gameplay segments were without a doubt the stronger sections. Getting stuck in that room while Yara and Lev tried to find a way out was an incredible experience. Finding the way down the skyscraper before the hospital was likewise terrifying. That whole area was wonderfully designed. Fuck Stalkers and the infected stuck on the walls. The hospital itself and the Rat King was just . . . god. I only have so many ways to say amazing. I also liked the entire island segment. I was honestly a little surprised at how "big" they went with the set pieces. I don't really remember anything like it in the first game.

I also really loved all of the flashback segments. It gave me much needed Joel and Ellie time. The museum segment was a real standout, but I think they were all fantastic. I liked Abby's, too!

The thing I'm conflicted on is the ending. The last few hours of the game, every time the screen went to black I though it was going to be over. Part of me has a hard time believing that Ellie would leave Dina to go find Abby at that point. I think they did an okay job selling that she needed the closure somehow, that it was still eating at her, but she also seemed so happy there with Dina and JJ.

That final segment in California was great, though. I loved that area from a gameplay perspective. It was just a fun play space to go through.

The fight against Ellie in the theater was dumb. I can see the appeal of it on paper, but it wasn't fun, and it felt really silly and video gamey in a way that actually ruined the tension of that moment.

Likewise, the fight against Abby at the very end was not great. It wasn't awful, but Naughty Dog have a bad habit of making those set one on one fights go on for entirely too long. That needed to be fifteen seconds, not a two minute fight with three phases.

I do like that Ellie ultimately let her go. I'm mixed on how to feel if it would have been better if she had just stayed on the farmhouse and not gone at all, though, just let it all go right there. But there is something to be said for driving the point home by having her return to an empty house, missing fingers and unable to play the guitar.

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