The Road Not Taken: The Last of Us Part II's Alternate Ending
- 26 Jan, 2024
When The Last of Us Part II made its debut, it was met with a wave of emotions ranging from awe to controversy. Its narrative choices particularly stirred the pot, challenging players' allegiances and moral compasses. Interestingly, recent revelations have uncovered that the journey could have veered into an even more divisive territory. The inclusion of a developer commentary track in the remastered version, narrated by Neil Druckmann, sheds light on an original ending that was ultimately left on the cutting room floor.
The Last of Us Part II is a tale of revenge, mercy, and the human condition, set in a post-apocalyptic world that tests the limits of its characters. The final product presents an ending where empathy triumphs over vengeance, but it turns out, this was not always the direction intended. Originally, Ellie's quest for retribution was to conclude with a dark turn, leading to a fatal confrontation with Abby. This decision was later altered, steering towards a narrative where Ellie chooses forgiveness over retribution, allowing Abby to escape with Lev, in search of the Fireflies.
Neil Druckmann's insights reveal that the change was deeply rooted in the character development of Joel and Ellie. Joel's acceptance of his fate, owing to his own morally ambiguous past, served as a cornerstone for this pivotal decision. The game's creators sought to honor the complexity of these characters, believing that Joel would not have wished for Ellie to end Abby's life. This narrative choice not only respects the characters' growth but also emphasizes the game's underlying themes of redemption and the cycles of violence.
The journey to the game's final scenes is a rollercoaster of emotions and tension. Abby's moment of mercy towards Ellie and Dina, influenced by Lev, sets a precedent for character transformation within the game. It's a turning point that humanizes Abby, moving her beyond the role of a mere antagonist. This act of mercy, mirroring Ellie's eventual decision, underscores the game's exploration of the nuances of human nature and the possibility of change, even in the face of deep-seated hatred and vendetta.
The Last of Us Part II's actual ending leaves players with a poignant message about the cost of vengeance and the power of forgiveness. While Ellie's decision to spare Abby might not alter the game's ultimate conclusion—Ellie's loss and solitude—the journey there becomes a narrative about growth, understanding, and the complexities of the human spirit. The revelation of an alternate ending offers a fascinating glimpse into the creative process, showcasing the thoughtful deliberation that went into crafting an ending that resonates with the themes of the game and the arcs of its characters. In the end, the road not taken underscores the depth and nuance of The Last of Us Part II's storytelling, affirming its place as a landmark in video game narrative.