Why The Last of Us Part II is My Game of the Year

Jon Cheetham
18 min readJun 30, 2020

…unless Bloodborne 2 is surprise released like a Beyonce album just before Christmas.

There are going to be full spoilers for this game below. If you haven’t finished it and want to remain unspoiled, do not read this review!

Until this year, the last thing I had played that was made by Naughty Dog involved a gurning orange marsupial completing highly precise platforming challenges or sometimes lapping the competition in a kart racer. Their latter transformation into generation-defining cinematic gaming had passed me by. To be fair, when I bought a PS4 in 2017 I had hardly touched games since the beginning of the PS2 generation. There’s been a lot to catch up on.

But along with the rip-roaring, treasure hunting fun of the two latest Uncharted games I played the remaster of 2013’s The Last of Us during the lock-down (called the Movement Control Order in Malaysia) and it spoke to me. The emptied world frozen in time in the month of September 2013, the taut plotting with its storied narrative and finale, and the tense encounters.

Perfect timing, because— as the entire world, even that beyond games coverage knows — the sequel was due, hitting shelves a mere month and a bit after I beat the original (and then, hungry for more, played the wonderful Left Behind DLC and then replayed the main campaign). I became dimly aware of spoilers and a seething, bizarre online backlash fomenting towards the plot and characterisations even prior to release, and decided to avoid internet gaming content like fungal spores in order to experience the new story fresh.

I’ve never really done this before with a game, and it was such a good idea. Almost unspoiled, I took a week playing through the ambitious 25-hour campaign while my wife watched engrossed in the story, current Netflix series forgotten. Without big set-pieces and moments spoiled by attention-grabbing headlines or tweets, gameplay changes largely unknown, and — importantly — the extremely stressful and divisive discourse invisible to me, for a week the game was just mine, mine to soak and immerse in.

And be surprised by. Going in blind, this was one of the twistiest, most daring and often shocking narratives I’ve experienced in a game, or for that matter the binge-based…