In “The Last of Us 2,” Naughty Dog ventured into a bold narrative territory by shifting the focus to Abby, a character whose actions directly targeted the game’s beloved lead, Joel. This move created an empathy challenge for players, who found it difficult to connect with Abby’s character throughout the game.
During playtesting, some players exhibited a strong aversion to Abby, with a notable number of testers refusing to empathize with her. This reaction was so pronounced that it influenced a crucial aspect of the game’s ending.
Originally, the game’s climax involving Ellie and Abby was designed to give players a choice. A button-prompt mechanic was intended to make players willingly spare Abby’s life. However, playtesters repeatedly tried to kill Abby, bypassing the intended narrative arc.
In response to this, Naughty Dog made a significant decision. They removed the element of player choice from this pivotal moment, forcing players to spare Abby. This move ensured that the game’s core message and thematic intention remained intact, despite player inclinations.
Naughty Dog’s choice to remove player agency in this critical moment of “The Last of Us 2” underscores the complex balance between player interactivity and narrative direction in video games.
Was This The Right Decision?
The decision to force players to spare Abby’s life in “The Last of Us 2” was controversial and arguably detrimental to the gaming experience. By removing player agency in a critical moment, Naughty Dog may have undermined one of the fundamental aspects of interactive storytelling – the player’s ability to influence the game’s narrative. This choice potentially alienated players who expected their actions and decisions to have a meaningful impact on the game’s outcome. This decision seems to be influence by reports that Naughty Dog wanted Ellie and Abby both to be the center of the next game.
The backlash against “The Last of Us 2” was significant, primarily due to its story choices. Critics and players expressed dissatisfaction over the forced narrative direction, particularly the decision to spare Abby after she killed Joel. This was seen as a betrayal of player expectations, with many feeling that their emotional investment and moral judgments were disregarded.
Source: Original interview translated by ImAnjico