Chenxiao Ma | September 28, 2020
If you are trying to kill me, I'll kill you.
That's why Owen killed Danny, Abby killed Jesse, Tommy killed Manny, Yara killed Issac, Lev killed his mother, and Ellie killed Alice. The little interactions with Alice were very well designed and made me fall in love with her but I can't blame Ellie. Evolutionary instincts take over just like the fungi take over an infected. Self-defense. Justified.
If you kill my dad, I'll kill you.
That's why Abby killed Joel and why Ellie set out to kill Abby. Revenge and justice, an eye for an eye. Fine.
But I'll kill your friends too? I'll chase Nora to find out you are at the aquarium and then kill her? I'll torture Mel and Owen and then kill them? I'll leave Jesse to go find Tommy on his own and threaten to never help him again if he doesn't come with me to look for you? Oh and then a year later I would leave my whole family and hunt for you all over again just because Tommy mentioned a lead for you and got under my skin?
These choices are just not what I would have made if I were in Ellie's position. Eventually I even got tired of killing the NPCs and had to lower the difficulty just so that I can avoid combat and run to the next checkpoint. That was the only choice I was allowed to make, hacking the gameplay. When I watched Ellie go back to the farm only to find out Dina had left, I just couldn't help but feel that's what she deserved.
Maybe that's intended. Maybe the game is designed to make you hate Abby first and then empathize with her later (although I never hated her that much because she obviously had a reason for killing Joel and I would be more eager to ask her about that than killing her blankly,) but Abby's plot is not convincing either. She left Mel and Owen and set out to kill half a village of Scars and all her old soldier friends just to help Lev and Yara. Why? Because they saved her life. Hello? Joel saved her life too! How come he had to be tortured to death? Repeatedly Lev and Yara asked Abby why she helped them and repeatedly she couldn't answer. Mel thought Abby was doing that to seduce Owen, maybe that WAS her motivation because it just doesn't make sense otherwise.
What makes it okay for someone to taking another's life? I guess that's the central question the game is trying to explore. This extreme form of violence is justified when used against someone posing an immediate danger, but what if it doesn't stop there? Could it be justified by survival? How about religion? How about finding a cure for humanity? Or could it be justified by rough justice? There is, of course, no right answer, but I would have loved to answer them for myself.