We get the distinct impression that The Last of Us: Part II is going to be a challenging game to play – not just because of the gameplay difficulty, but because of the message that Naughty Dog is trying to convey. And while Neil Druckmann didn’t really tell Buzzfeed anything new in a recent interview, he did reiterate that the theme of the game is hate. Spoilers: Ellie’s girlfriend Dina is clearly going to die within the first hour.
“A lot of our conversations are about hate, but it’s a more complicated, kind of nuanced thing, which is… I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you’ve witnessed an atrocity,” he pondered. “You’ve seen someone torture an animal, or they’ve pushed you too far and, for a second, your mind goes somewhere… primitive, where you want to hurt someone.”
Druckmann continued: “And with this game, we’re like, ‘How do we explore that? How do we make you feel those feelings and lean into them, and then make you reflect on them?’ And I can’t say more than that without kind of spoiling the whole story. But everything we’re constructing, the situation we’re putting the characters in, is to explore that basically.”
In other words: it’s going to be really, really bloody horrible. Co-writer Halley Gross continued that the title is about the “cyclical nature of violence”. She explained: “Well, it’s this idea that, sort of, violence begets violence begets violence, and the sort of growing trauma that […] creates for Ellie and on Ellie’s soul.”