Wendenhorn

My thought on the game and story

6 posts in this topic

Overall ratings
I do not value the story part much on any video games. They're accountable for 20% of total score at best. If there is a game of Schindler's List that force you to do some QTEs, that's a 2/10 game to me, 2/2 for the story and 0/8 for the gameplay. If there is a game which has absolutely no story whatsoever and excellent gameplay mechanics, that's a 8/10 game to me.

 

TLoU was a solid 7/10 game to me. It starts with a 5/8 rating for being a mediocre action game with good graphics on lower difficulties, and then gets +1 for the grounded difficulty. The grounded mode changes the game slightly, from a mediocre action game with simple and boring combat/farming mechanics, to a slightly better survival game which force you to manage the limited amount of supplies. Also, it reduces the amount of farming (which is very boring), since you won't get much anyway. However, I can only give 6/8 rating for the grounded mode, because you can still avoid the majority of combat sections by simply running towards the exit. If you avoid the majority of combats, resource management and the strategic use of resources are not required. Story-wise, I'll give it 1/2. Even though I do think it has one of the best story telling in gaming world, but it's not even close to on par with good movies or TV shows. Hence, 7/10 overall.

 

TLoU2 is also a 7/10 game for me. There are not many improvements or changes from the last game in terms of gameplay. Unlike what's shown on the gameplay trailers, all enemies are still extremely stupid. Even if you let the enemies see the full trajectory of thrown bottles/bricks, they'll look where the bottle/brick landed, not the place it originated from. Enemy still won't hear other enemies' death throes when you stealth kill the other one right next to it, even though Clickers are supposed to have extremely developed hearing ability. Endless sequence of combat-farming-travel hasn't changed at all. Farming still feels very boring and pointless. Combat mechanics is also largely the same and you can still avoid the majority of combat sections entirely by running toward the exit. Although melee animations became much more dramatic/fancy and offer a lot more variety, but the essence of melee combat hasn't changed much. You just slams the □ button. The only new addition to this game, the evade (L1), feels like pretty boring QTEs and somewhat break the game along with infinite knife, due to its overpowering nature. Furthermore, there are many declining aspects of gameplay. Traversal puzzles almost disappeared. Both Hard and Survivor difficulty are somewhat easier than the TLoU's Hard/Survivor difficulty. No grounded difficulty (yet), which added the survival element to the previous game. Better graphics and animations are not enough to offset these deteriorations. 5.5/8 for gameplay. Story-wise, I think TLoU2 has a potential to be great but failed to deliver. 1.5/2 for story. 7/10 overall.

 

TL;DR
TLOU 7/10 (1/2 story, 6/8 gameplay)
TLOU2 7/10 (1.5/2 story, 5.5/8 gameplay)

 


Symmetry in story structure
There are a lot of symmetry in this game, especially with the two playable characters.

 

A. Two caregiver-caretaker relationships
Abby has two of these relationships. The first one, Jerry(father) and Abby, was ended by Joel who killed her father. The second one, Abby(caregiver) and Lev(caretaker), is ongoing relationship. Ellie also has two of these. The first one, Joel(father figure) and Ellie, was ended by Abby who clubbed Joel's head. The second one, Ellie(caregiver)-JJ(caretaker), was sorta ended when she left the home for her second revenge attempt.

 

B. Two revenge attempts. Both Ellie and Abby showed some regret/hesitation on their first attempts. Both stopped during the second attempts.
Abby tried to revenge twice. The first one was for her father's death. She traveled to Jackson, WY on her mission to kill Joel. Although she successfully clubbed his brain out, but she showed some hesitation and regret before the last swing. The second one was (mainly) for Owen's death. She tried to kill Ellie for that, but let Ellie live at the end. Ellie also made two separate revenge attempts. The first one was for Joel's death. She went to Seattle on her mission to kill Abby. Although she successfully killed many accomplices (Nora, Owen and Mel), but never enjoyed the revenge (or satisfied). She either reluctantly did it, or somewhat accidently did it (or in self defense). And she failed to kill Abby in theater. The reason behind the second attempt was not a clear cut. It seemed primarily for Joel, but wasn't clearly given. Even she can't reason herself. After she gained the upper hand during the fist fight with Abby, she let Abby live.

 

C. 1+3+1 chapters and similar playtime
Both characters are playable in the Prologue chapter and the Santa Barbara chapter. Both characters have their own three chapters, Seattle Day 1, 2, 3. Playtimes on both side are similar to each other, although Ellie side of story is slightly longer than Abby's. And Day 1 is the longest on both sides while Day 3 is the shortest on both sides.

 

Overall, I think the story part is good and has a potential to be great. They've done enough to make players to see and engage on both sides, which is a good way to deliver any message. I know there are a good number of people who couldn't engage on Abby side, but I think it's not because of the inherent flaws on the story of this game. The root cause seems to be their (too strong) engagement to Joel/Ellie which they've formed during the playthrough of the last game.

 


Disappointing deliveries
However, I do think the deliveries were somewhat disappointing in several parts.

 

A. The relationship between Abby and Lev
I think this relationship was developed too fast without giving much of ground. Helping Yara/Lev was understandable to some point. But Abby turned 180 degrees and started to kill WLF members within just a couple of days she first met Yara/Lev. This is way beyond reciprocal actions and I don't think there is enough ground for that.

 

B. The reason behind the Ellie's second revenge attempt
The game didn't give enough explanation on why Ellie made the second journey to kill Abby, even though there are dozens of reasons not to. Even if someone has confirmed Abby's location in real time in the nonapocalyptic world, traveling to Santa Barbara from Jackson, WY and finding a random person in Santa Barbara is not an easy feat. However, all Ellie got was just one hearsay that someone saw Abby in Santa Barbara on an unknown date. This is obviously much worse lead than the WLF patch on the arm (which was the only lead on the first attempt). An individual would be a lot harder to find than a big group. Also, travelling to Santa Barbara through the herds of infected and murderous gangs on her own is much harder than travelling to Seattle with her friends. The round trip alone will take months on foot (and a sailboat) at the very least. Furthermore, she already tried to kill Abby once and the only reason she's still alive is because Abby let her live. And she now have a family to take care of. A random PTSD cut-scene isn't sufficient to justify her action. The second trip completes the symmetry, but there has to be a better explanation for the plot development than the erratic teenager behavior.

 

C. Lack of clear or clever explanation at the end of the game
In theater, Abby killed Jesse, shot Tommy and beat the shit out of Ellie. Abby did all that for Owen's death and she was about to slit Dina's throat after she finds out Dina's pregnant. But Lev acted as some sort of moral inhibitor at the moment and Abby let both Dina/Ellie live. However, the reason why Ellie let Abby live in the end was not delivered clearly. Did she learn that vengeance only makes everything worse and creates another vengeance? Did she learn that from Abby and Lev relationship? Did she clear her teenager mind and grow up? Did she learn to forgive? Did she just move on from Joel? It's up to players to interpret that whatever they like. A cycle of vengeance is a pretty common concept and lazily presenting open ending do not qualify for great story.

 

D. Leaving out WLF versus Seraphites
This was the biggest disappointment to me. Revenge someone's death is definitely not a rare story, but this is not a real-life situation in this modern world either. Only a tiny fraction of people are murder victims' kid and only tiny fraction of them kills the murderer. Naturally, the engagement to Ellie and Abby can't be great. The situation is not something that you've normally experienced nor seen, thus you can only imagine.

 

However, two opposing groups of people interpreting the very same event in completely different ways? Don't understand the other group's perspective at all? Disregarding the other group's opinion as fake news? Calling the others as loonies? This is a very real-life situation and literally see this everytime everywhere. Politics, dispute between countries, religions, you name it. WLF versus Seraphites was the perfect setup to say something about this matter. But ND barely touched this subject. There are one or two superficial dialogues about this and that's about it.

 

If they made Seattle Day 4/5 and deal with this matter beautifully in the added chapters by making the players to go through various events in each group's perspective, I would rate this 2/2 for story. They didn't, hence 1.5/2 for story.

Edited by Wendenhorn
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31 minutes ago, Wendenhorn said:

I do not value the story part much on any video games. They're accountable for 20% of total score at best.

 

Surely that depends on the game, no? If a game is completely story focused and has like 10 hours of cutscenes and dialogue, how can you compare it to games from non-story driven genres, such as first person shooters, sports games, racing games, fighting games or others?

 

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7 minutes ago, Silver-I-Chariot said:

 

Surely that depends on the game, no? If a game is completely story focused and has like 10 hours of cutscenes and dialogue, how can you compare it to games from non-story driven genres, such as first person shooters, sports games, racing games, fighting games or others?

 

That's why TWD is 1.5/10 game to me(0.5/2 for story and 1/8 for gameplay) as well as Heavy Rain. No interaction no game, less interaction less game. Anyway, my score doesn't mean jackshit to anybody. It's just a reflection of my feeling.

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First game: 10/10 timeless masterpiece, everyone should play it.

Second game 6.5/10: Gameplay, graphics, lore, etc. is 10/10. Story is a 3/10. Seeing as how this is TLOU, story is weighed a lot more heavily than everything else (I'd say the game is composed 70% story, 30% everything else). I found enjoyed roughly half the story, the Abby section and the ending are garbage, so I'd give it a 6.5 overall.

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My friend absolutely loved the game through and through, unfortunately I found it decidedly average as an overall experience.

 

For disclosure I love the first game.

 

I thought the gameplay of part 2 was decent but was not a fan of the story and thought the game dragged out way too long. I watched the Angry Joe review and was surprised just how closely his opinion matched mine on this one.

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Mmmmh well look at that, if it isn't a man of culture.

 

I also liked TLOU2 story more than the first, way more in fact. I guess we are weirdos.

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