Through Abby, the game gestures towards new paths. Abby, daughter to a Firefly doctor murdered by Joel in the first game, leads a revenge mission to Wyoming with a small posse, brutally dispatching Joel in front of Ellie. His murder prompts Ellie to follow them back to their Seattle headquarters to kill them all in vengeance. However, Abby overpowers and spares her a second time. She then slips off to Santa Barbara, and Ellie follows. But that doesn’t play out the way she imagines it either, and over the course of roughly thirty hours of play, Ellie becomes a shell of a person. Having failed two revenge missions—one to Seattle, the other to Santa Barbara—she returns to an empty homestead vacated of the warmth and love it once housed. Abby, on the other hand, recognizes that executing Joel has left her unsatisfied. She consequently distances herself from the violence of Seattle’s militaristic faction, the Washington Liberation Front, and opens up emotionally to strangers Lev and Yara instead of leaning away. The game’s bifurcated structure split between extended playable sequences from both Ellie and Abby’s points-of-view drives this juxtaposition home. Ellie only ever has the objective of killing Abby, while Abby rarely thinks about her pursuer at all, finding peace by letting go of vengeance and freeing herself from its pull.
Read the full column at Haywire Magazine.