For the last couple of years, there’s been a conversation surrounding the violence being portrayed in The Last of Us Part 2, and whether it might, perhaps, be a bit too excessive. However, in recent weeks, as we’ve learned more and more about the game, it’s become clearer that Naughty Dog is inserting that violence into its game on purpose, as it ties that in with its themes of hate and revenge, and attempts to make the players uncomfortable with their own actions.
For instance, every enemy you kill in the game will have an actual name, and once you do kill them, their friends or companions might cry out their name in anguish as they see them die. Hell, even every dog you kill will have a name, and their owners will call out their names as you put them down. This sort of attention to details is something that Naughty Dog is hoping to leverage to develop empathy in players for the characters that come up against, and also to make them “carry the impact of their violence.”
“On the one hand we want to develop empathy, but we also want to raise the stakes for Ellie,” said co-writer Halley Gross in an interview in the Official PlayStation Magazine’s December 2019 issue (issue 168). “So, every time you’re experiencing these setups, you have to engage with what would have been a typical NPC. But now, you’ve shot him, and his friend keeps screaming his name, and you have to carry the impact of your violence with you.”
“Ultimately, this is a story about the cycle of violence, right?” she added. “But beyond that, it’s a conversation about the effects systemic trauma can have on your soul.”