So it's April 29th, a full month and nine days since the first day of spring. And when I threw a few burgers on the grill tonight (because I just can't wait for the weather anymore) it was actually sleeting. Now I don't mind cold weather. I love it compared to the heat. But I'm starting to think there isn't going to be a spring this year. I have a
feeling summer is going to just appear and beam down heat and humidity.
But regardless of whether Mother Nature wants to believe it or not, the spring months are upon us which means the end of the semester and more time to do the things we want. The piles of books, movies, television shows, and games have stacked themselves pretty high this year and the subtle lure of a bonfire has been not so subtle lately.
First up on the list is The Last of Us: Left Behind. I have to confess I couldn't wait for the end of the semester (should probably get that portfolio turned in. . .) to start this dlc prequel to one of the greatest games of all time. For those of you who never played The Last of Us . . . I see the hole in your life and I'm sorry. And for those of you that have experienced what the geniuses at Naughty Dog delivered to us last year - well I don't have to say much more than that. Laura Hudson over at Wired called Left Behind, 'the video game that finally made me feel like a human being.' Read her entire take on the game here. And 70% through it, I full-heardetly agree. That's what Naughty Dog does though. They grab us and they won't let go until before we know the ride is over and we are left sitting there with a dazed look on our faces and the words . . . what. . . just . . . happened? On the tips of our tongue. But we know damn well what just happened, not just because we played the game, but because we lived alongside the characters.
I may be partially biased when saying all of this because of my love for Nathan Drake and the Uncharted series that Naughty Dog is also behind, but The Last of Us (and Left Behind) is a different animal. It's a different everything. It's fair to say that the goal behind any media from books to music, from movies to video games, is not only to entertain but to leave a resonating feeling with the reader or viewer. And while most survival horror games leave us with fear (keep in mind there are plenty of instances during this game when you want to say umm no and pull your headphones off) but what really sets The Last of Us aside from the others and what drives it into our souls like a knife is the moral grey areas that it addresses.
In a recent interview with The Writer's Chronicle, Richard Bausch said, ". . . We are creatures who die, and know that we die, and know also that we know. And yet we can sing and laugh and play, and for me that is bravery of a high order. . . Even the happiest event is fraught with it, [trouble] because we all know that the one promise life always keeps is suffering. Loss. Confusion. Grief."
The Last of Us is a dark game. And it features fully rounded characters that are faced with horrible decisions while trying not only to survive, but to find any reason to smile. And it lingers. The original game has been out for almost a year and I still think about it from time to time and I know several friends that do too. And while Left Behind is not a necessary prequel, the original game is perfectly complete in that way, it gives such a detailed glimpse into Ellie's life before her encounter with Joel that playing through the original game again will only make you feel stronger for the situation she's in and the choices she is forced to make.
And I think that is what makes for amazing characters and amazing experiences with these characters. What Naughty Dog and Richard Bausch both accomplish is something that every writer should strive to accomplish. Their characters are flawed, but they are doing their best in dire and sometimes not-so-dire situations. Whether it be a fourteen year old girl forced to kill or be killed, or a priest and his relationship with faith (Bausch, Sixty-Five Million Years)
Now that I've digressed enough, let's jump back to other things I'm looking forward to. I recently saw the trailer to Night Moves, an eco-thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg and cannot wait to see this movie. Along with that, I'm looking forward to Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, and the minimalist movie starring Tom Hardy 'Locke' which actually hit theaters a few days ago.
Upcoming in July is the US release of Cataveiro, the second book in the Osiris Project Trilogy by British sci-fi and fantasy writer E. J. Swift and that is going to make a great addition to the bookshelf.
As always things are happening. . . Till next time . . .