“It can’t be for nothing.” – The Themes of “The Last of Us”

“It can’t be for nothing.” – The Themes of “The Last of Us”

Naughty Dog‘s world of The Last of Us on the Sony PlayStation, created by Neil Druckmann, is so much more than a video game playing experience. They’re the only games I’ve ever played where I became emotionally invested in the characters and their stories. It’s a saga that’s made me really think. Over the coming days and weeks I’m going to be authoring several posts about the themes the series raises. This is simply an introduction to my series.

Important Note

I assume you’ve played through to the conclusions of The Last of Us, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and The Last of Us Part II. There will be spoilers and most of my commentary will reference across the games. The Last of Us: American Dreams (graphic novel; my review of TLOU:AD) will also be used, but that’s less important. Please play through the games before reading my commentary. I don’t want to ruin anything for players. Some of the commentary may touch upon “optional” game items: found artifacts, optional conversations, etc. If you’ve played and come across something that’s an “I didn’t see that!”, perhaps it will be a spark to get you back into the games and experience all that’s there.

I also assume that you know the characters and their story arcs. I’m not going to be re-narrating the games.

Into the Themes

“It can’t be for nothing,” is what Ellie says to Joel near the climax of The Last of Us, after he suggests that she can walk away from possibly being the savior of humanity from the Cordyceps apocalypse after their trek across America from Boston to Salt Lake City.

Ellie finishes The Last of Us Part II broken, having lost everything except her Cordyceps immunity.

How she got there explores themes of friendship, love, betrayal, loss, revenge, and redemption in Ellie as well as the other primary characters: Joel and Abby.

My commentary will touch on all of those themes at different times in different topic areas. All will build towards a conclusion of what I think the story of The Last of Us Part III could hold, if we get another game. I will update this post as an index as I write additional content.

The first two posts I’m teeing up are an analysis of Ellie’s immunity and the importance of music in the games. Stay tuned!

The Commentary

Links follow to all the parts in this series! Enjoy!

Part 1: a breakdown of Pearl Jam’s song “Future Days” featured in The Last of Us Part II and how it relates to the world of the game.

Featured image credit: content was obtained by me on PlayStation 4 from The Last of Us Remastered and The Last of Us Part II, by Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment. Photo merging was completed by me using Autodesk Sketchbook.

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