No CT scan results yet. Sorry for the false advertising.
I’ve been unable to buy strong white flour for months so have started baking wholemeal sourdough (70% wholemeal flour, 30% white) instead. The loaf I made this week was extremely delicious so I’m going to stick with wholemeal for a while.
I finished The Last of Us Part II. Here are some final (for now) spoiler-free thoughts.
It is, overall, the best video game I’ve played. I can think of some games whose minute-to-minute gameplay is perhaps more fun or interesting, but taken as a whole it’s an unmatched achievement of interactive storytelling and it had more emotional impact than any other game I can remember. An actual masterpiece.
Now that I’ve finished it I’ve been able to go back and read all the blog posts and watch all the YouTube videos without fear of plot points being spoiled. Surprise: turns out lots of people don’t like it.
I’ve seen three main flavours of objection. The first is essentially “SJWs are ruining video games”, presumably because the women in the game have normal and realistic (versus cartoonish) bodies and the main narrative centres the experiences of queer women and trans people. Anyone who gets angry about this is not worth engaging with.
The second is “I don’t like what they did with the character(s) I love” / “this isn’t the sequel I wanted”. I understand this a little better but it’s ultimately a childish complaint that comes from a weird sense of entitlement. Naughty Dog chose to make a sequel that would be different, emotionally difficult and occasionally unpleasant to play; the result is much more worthwhile than a mawkish victory lap of what was good about the first game. All nerd-adjacent franchises get a similar reaction from a section of their audience so I suppose it’s unavoidable.
The third category is much broader: roughly “it’s too violent” / “the message is reductive” / “it’s too hopeless” / “it’s hypocritical” / “it’s unsatisfying”. I do think this is substantive and I understand why reasonable people are saying it. In particular I sympathise with the usual complaints about mismatches between the gameplay and the story — look, is violence bad or is it fun? — and it’s interesting that some players felt they couldn’t experience guilt or complicity in the absence of full control over the choices the characters make.
But I don’t agree. I don’t feel as though the game tricked me or expected me to feel bad for what the player character did while I was controlling them. Narrative video games are just a medium for telling a story and I felt extremely engaged by this one without needing to take personal responsibility for every plot development. And as far as violence and hopelessness goes, well, it’s a horror game and I found it to be incredibly effective at putting me in situations whose horror was almost more than I could bear, not because of zombies and monsters but because of the compounding effects of trauma and grief on people who are trapped by them. (This feeling reminded me of a brilliant moment in Hereditary where I couldn’t imagine how I’d cope with such a horrendous situation.)
A lot of people who didn’t like the game are concerned with dividing its characters into “heroes” and “villains”, perhaps complaining that their behaviour doesn’t fit into this categorisation, but to me that misses the point: everyone sucks here. Trauma ruins lives and grief causes people to make shitty decisions that don’t make sense. The advance marketing of The Last of Us Part II sold it as a revenge story but to me it’s obvious that it’s about grief rather than revenge, so maybe that mismatch is responsible for some of the disappointment.
Anyway, it’s really good! Five stars!
I started playing Ghost of Tsushima which is almost unbearably clunky in comparison. It was so nice to have a little holiday from tiny text, fiddly controls, characters whom I don’t understand or care about and so on, but yeah, not every game studio cares as much about getting these details right. I’m hoping I can get my money’s worth out of it but it hasn’t grabbed me yet.