The Last of Us Part II: Why is it so divisive?

Recently, The Last Last of Us Part II won Game of the Year, while, last June, a few weeks before the official release, journalists and critics praised it highly. On Metacritic, critics score is high: 93/100.

However, the user review is way less eulogistic: only 5.7/10, with almost as many negative critics than positive ones: about 35 000, against about 36 000. (As a comparison, there are no negative critics among the critics’ reviews.). It is also worth noting that, on both sides, there are relatively few mixed critics: around 4 000 for users and 8 for critics.

The Last of Us II is, then, a very polarizing and cleaving game. But why is that?

Critics and players almost unanimously praised the graphics and the technical aspects of the game. The divide seems to lies with the narrative and the storytelling of the game. To some, this new opus made bold choices, cleverly subverted expectations, and carried powerful messages. To others, it utterly betrayed the first game and is filled with character inconsistencies and clumsy shortcuts.

How can we, then, explain the gap between those two antagonistic standpoints?

(To do so, one may examine the different plot tricks, gaming devices, or filming effects the game uses, more or less subtly, and the emotional and psychological reactions it is supposed to have on the audience. Plus, as one of the bones of contention is Abby’s character and her narrative arc, empathy is one of the meta-themes of the game: what kind of empathy characters in the game may or may not build towards each other, but, more prominently, what type of empathy a player may or may not develop towards such and such character. Indeed, at least three different kinds of empathies may be at play in the game: emotional empathy, cognitive empathy, and rational empathy or compassion. The kind of empathy one may develop, or, on the contrary, loose, towards such or such character can influence their appreciation regarding the game.)

  • I'm a huge fan of TLoU. The second game was honestly more fun/difficult for me to play, based on the gameplay functions, amped up horror, and graphics. Although, the narrative was a massive disappointment. I think one of the main topics to discuss, would be that the audience never really wanted to get to know Abby. She was barely connected to the first game, and she quickly kills Joel. Why give a random antagonist any attention at all? The fans fell in love with Ellie and Joel's relationship. Making the new game about Abby and Ellie took away from everything that made the game special in the first place. – RaeganSmith 2 years ago
  • I think an interesting thing to separate here would be critics VS online communities because every review I've read has been wholly positive. And also, any friend I've spoken to has been the same. All the complaints seem to come from people benefitting from anonymity. – Marcus Dean 2 years ago

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