Game of the Month - February 2014 - The Last of Us: Left Behind

What you lose, and what you keep.

February gave us a number of good and great games, offering something for just about everyone. Shooter fans can enjoy the wonderfully refreshing Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Classic arcade aficionados might gravitate toward Strider, an excellent update of a classic Capcom franchise. And those with a taste for challenging city builders can find a grim, unforgiving new take on the genre in Banished. But in the end, our deliberations boiled down to a debate over the merits of two outstanding games: the captivating Japanese role-playing game Bravely Default, and the story-focused downloadable add-on for The Last of Us, Left Behind.

Left Behind ultimately triumphed because the humanity of its characters and of its story isn't just uncommon in games; it's practically unheard of. It's no wonder that, in her great Wired piece called "The Videogame That Finally Made Me Feel Like a Human Being," Laura Hudson called Left Behind "the most emotionally powerful experience I've ever had in the medium." Left Behind is set during the events of The Last of Us, but while you, as Ellie, forage around a Colorado mall hoping to find the supplies you need to tend to a wounded Joel, Ellie recalls another experience she once had in a mall, an experience that may have been only a few months prior but is so far removed from her life now that it might as well have been in another lifetime.

Ellie and Riley go through an awful lot together in a very short time.
Ellie and Riley go through an awful lot together in a very short time.

During the flashback sequences, we relive a time that Ellie and her friend Riley ventured into a dilapidated Boston mall, and although our time with the two of them is relatively brief, it gives us a picture of a complex, fully realized relationship. They share sad moments and funny moments and sweet moments; they laugh together and they play together and they argue with each other, and we understand them and believe in them and empathize with them every step of the way. The writing is so good, it puts the dialogue in most games to shame.

Left Behind is also brilliant in the way that it takes the gameplay mechanics of The Last of Us--things like throwing bricks, sneaking, and shooting--and uses them as a way for us to participate in Ellie and Riley's relationship. If you've played The Last of Us, you'll have come to associate these mechanics with fear and danger, but in Left Behind, they're often recontextualized in moments of joy and friendly competition. Ellie and Riley live in a devastated world, and they've learned how to cope with things nobody their age should have to, but they're also just teenagers, who want to laugh and have fun and fall in love. It's a poignant reminder of just how much Ellie has lost, how different her life should have been.

Ultimately, Left Behind is about how things are fleeting and how people are haunted by loss, but we're left with our memories, and these become a part of who we are. It's appropriate, then, that the act of playing Left Behind leaves you with so many memories of the time that Ellie and Riley spent together.

Related links:

The Last of Us: Left Behind Review

January Game of the Month

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725 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for Arkhalipso
Arkhalipso

I see a lot of people saying that DLCs are not games. Well, that may be the case for some DLCs, but this one in particular could be considered a short prequel.

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Can it be played standalone? I think that's better for judging in those regards.

Avatar image for Optimist_Pryme
Optimist_Pryme

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I know right? GameSpot's own rules for what can be consider say an "original" work... and granted it may be semantics... but would think logically a full-fledged sequel would classify as original... where DLC is just a tacked on extra... whether it adds more game play or not. Let's just hope they don't become hardcore CoD fans... if I ever see a cheesy weapons pack make "game of the month", I'm out of here, rofl. ;)

Avatar image for dmblum1799
dmblum1799

I didn't these were all these arcane rules about what a gaming websites can give its awards to.


Is there an article in our constitution that stipulates "None of thy DLC packs shall be accorded game of the month!"


Does the "award" even mean anything other than the publicity? Does Ellie get a new car?


This is silly.

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

<< LINK REMOVED >>

I'm feeling more and more alienated the further I scroll down, but in early 90's with PC's I learned what a standalone title was and what an expansion was. Digital and physical mediums offer these. Naturally I expect my opinion shard (<guilty) but you can expect many other gamers to question why an editor of a gaming site selected expansion for a game honor, specially given the other tittles nominated.

Avatar image for Optimist_Pryme
Optimist_Pryme

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Indeed and agreed... since DLC is allowable... wonder when cash-shop DLC content such as weapon-packs and texture-packs start winning "game of the month" awards. ^_^

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

<< LINK REMOVED >> No, it's just stupid.

they said best GAME of the MONTH.

This is DLC for a game that came out last YEAR.

It doesn't say anywhere that Gamespot isn't IGN either, but we are all aware it's different because of COMMON SENSE.

Avatar image for dmblum1799
dmblum1799

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>


My point is I don't care what the game of the month is here, or the game of the year for that matter.


I come here to get good info on what gaming products are worth my money. Period. So, i'm willing to bet that this DLC is the best way to spend my gaming dollar this month.


You may disagree and make different purchasing decisions. I don't care. Gamespot has only really muffed it when they gave Last of Us 8.

Avatar image for mcquack306
mcquack306

<< LINK REMOVED >> Then you wouldn't have a problem with a trailer winning for Game of the Month right? That's basically what you TRIED to say. Doesn't matter if it's DLC, game, or a trailer. It can win an award for GOTM.

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badbazzaaa

I cant say that its not a good game but TLOU:LB isn't even a standalone game

Avatar image for AK1015
AK1015

<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, I agree. This should belong in some "Best DLC of..." category. What do I know?

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

That'd actually be a nice feature too. Some DLC is just terribad others awesome and others so expensive/large I've spent more time searching/reading reviews for add on content than the original release.

Avatar image for tom2750
tom2750

Sony exclusives = so good that even there DLC gets game of the month meanwhile the 360 still has its poor excuse for an exclusive line up much like how the Xbox one will have a pathetic exclusive list and the PS4 will pump out tons of amazing exclusives Xbox done

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

<< LINK REMOVED >> Seriously?

You really found the need to weasel in a console loyalty message? It wasn't even related. JFC

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somebodysilent

I love how upset some people are over this.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

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Indeed, that's the true entertainment value of troll-bait articles. :P

Avatar image for Meteor7
Meteor7

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> People will complain about pretty much anything these days.

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somebodysilent

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Nothing better anywhere else.

Avatar image for baxwam
baxwam

.......... I disagree.... Bravely Default was like the Pokemon X and Y for Final Fantasy with out being Final Fantasy.........

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parabol69

<< LINK REMOVED >> Screw that bullshit 3DS JRPG crap.

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>Screw ALL bullshit JRPG. It's ALL crap, and always has been.

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

<< LINK REMOVED >>

If your attitude ever changes Lost Odyssey I found rather different, dirt cheap too.

Avatar image for AK1015
AK1015

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>But why? Some of it is legitimately great stuff. Bravely Default is one example. If you haven't played it then you missed out on a great game. I'm not saying it was game of the month, but it was a great game.

Avatar image for nigelholden
nigelholden

At some point, you have to read these things as an op-ed. Pretty much because they are. Personally, I would of chosen Bravely Default over this because it's a huge experience and a great game. Do I think Left Behind was an extension to an existing game? Definitely. But is this going to keep me from my Newcastle, a Barry White album, some strawberry scented candles, and the nakey playing cards I bought at the same place I got the Newcastle? Life goes on.

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Impeach_RicanV

<< LINK REMOVED >> You're in for a fun night. Shame I never got an invite...

Avatar image for nigelholden
nigelholden

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> 52 shades of fapping.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Indeed, it's an editorial article - some people don't know how to take it or leave it.

Avatar image for nigelholden
nigelholden

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I think the GotM thing has some people riled up. Like it's a real thing, a trophy or something. But yeah, a bit of the back and forth online is great. But there seems to be this idea that these things need to be objective. Clearly it's a subjective article, which can be discussed, praised, and argued. But there seems to be this charge that it needs to be objective. It's a subjective opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Honestly your better off throwing a party in a community thread than comments section *shrugs*

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BradBurns

<< LINK REMOVED >> I don't know what you just said but I totally agree with it. You should be president of the United States.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

I find that doubtful. Come the year end, Bravely Default will be nominated as a candidate of the handheld genre in GameSpot's editorial for "Game of the Year". It's a loophole that GameSpot's editors would use, since they also pick their GOTY title from winners of their categories.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

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I think that you might have been watching/reading one too many Kaizoku-themed anime/manga. :|

Avatar image for nigelholden
nigelholden

@bunchanumbers @nigelholden @Gelugon_baat Then Gamespot is just shooting themselves in the foot with this system. Though, to throw out a GOTY contender based on an op-ed is strange, to say the least. But does it really matter? I will still be a sexy pirate. To be honest, I'm to the point where I don't even pay attention to their scoring or bait click articles. (that's a lie, I'm addicted)


I come here for the people. For the existential immersion of ideas. Because, aren't we all just sexy pirates, lost in a sea of 1s and 0s?

Avatar image for bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Its their own system. They chose this. This means that at the end of the year Left Behind will be in the running along with Olliolli. I'm beginning to dread the list at the end of this year. Not only that Bravely Default won't get a shot at GOTY.

Avatar image for nigelholden
nigelholden

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> That's an odd system. I liked it better when it was just, "and the GotY goes to... Flappy Birds! I will say that any release during a year should be in the running.

Avatar image for bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> It is a real thing. The GOTM winners are automatic entrants into the GOTY category at the end of the year. This means that at the end of the year a DLC will be a nominee for game of the year.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Well, tell that to other people who don't know already. ;)

Yet really, when I see the phrase "objective" - a phrase that I had not been using without skepticism towards it for years - used by some people in their arguments, I think that they are just upset that their opinions had not been reflected.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Some of you may want to read << LINK REMOVED >>. That article has a passage:

"What games will be considered for Game of the Month?

Any title released within the calendar month for each Game of the Month period is eligible. And only original, new release games will be in contention (unfortunately ports or HD remixes will not be considered)."

You can use the phrase "original" against GameSpot's editorial staff. Go ahead - send emails and such to CBSI, << LINK REMOVED >>, etc.

However, be warned that you are going into the territory of semantics here - it's not an issue of technicality, because that part on what will not be considered does not include DLC.

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

<< LINK REMOVED >> I argue the common sense distinction of DLC not being a new release game.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

"Common sense" is a weasel word. :/

Avatar image for DIGN
DIGN

<< LINK REMOVED >>Wow, you're on the good side for once. You've betrayed RicanV and all of the other would-be mods? I'm so proud of you, fighting the good fight.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

You are quite mistaken if you think that I am picking a side.

However, I very much look down with disdain on attempts to argue that DLCs are not "eligible" for what is really an op-ed article.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

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Yeah yeah sure - semantics and all that.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

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More likely some Titanfall map pack - I await the furore. :P

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>It's a matter of point.

DLC just ISNT a new game.

It's not.

If you were to say best gameplay, yeah.

But your giving an award to a game that came out last year because this is PART of that game.

Avatar image for mcquack306
mcquack306

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> How can you say DLC is eligible for GOTM but other games like Tales of Symphonia or any HD remake does not count? They are still being released in the month and they are new to the platform/generation. I can't wait to see the slow months where nothing comes out and Gamespot picks a CoD/BF4 DLC map pack as GOTM.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Whut? I don't understand why you would say something that melodramatic.

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DIGN

@Gelugon_baat @DIGN Shhh, you're ruining the moment. It's whats on the inside that counts.

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Impeach_RicanV

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> If DIGN approves, I approve!

Avatar image for n0xinab0x
n0xinab0x

Was/Is this column based on February or March? I'm going to save a bunch of money on car insurance and assume it was for Feb.

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Zacmaccraken

Earth Defence Force 2025 IS THE GAME OF THE MONTH!!! EDF!! EDF!!! EDF!!!