For the record, I remain a strong advocate of the ESRB and I don't believe anybody under a certain age should be playing The Last Of Us .
Secondly, I do believe there is entirely too much in the way of unnecessary violence in all forms of entertainment in a society that becomes more and more Roman-esque with every passing day.
Now that I've got that out of the way, I'm also an advocate of artists being allowed to create the vision they see in their heads. If violence is a part of a complete and worthwhile vision that actually has a message, then I have no problem with it. For instance, I've compared Naughty Dog's latest to Cormac McCarthy's Pultizer Prize-winning "The Road" for obvious reasons. It's pretty darn similar, really. And although the book is hardly about action, the brief moments of horrific action are indeed visceral and gritty.
And that's because in both cases, the artists in question were attempting to present us with an alternate reality that is cold, cruel and brutal. I still don't think the camera needs to be quite so close when Joel slams someone's head off a car (as I noted in my review ), and I also believe there could've been less violence. I almost always think there could be less violence in almost anything I see and hear these days. That's nothing new. And at the same time, I recognize what the developers were trying to do and in order to do it correctly, it has to be brutal.
It's a brutal world. If the core concept of this game is survival – and make no mistake about it, it is – than we have to accept everything that comes with it. Survival in that world would be hard. It would be hard physically and psychologically. There can be no punches pulled and very little in the way of sentiment or compassion; for every extra ounce of heart, there's another chunk of flesh you might lose. And that, of course, is an underlying theme of the game. In order for that to be effective, you can't avoid the nitty-gritty because as a direct result, the experience fails to properly display the creator's full and complete vision.
I realize I'm hedging my bets a little by saying most everything these days is way too violent (and usually for no reason whatsoever). Still, I want to make it plain that art is always about communication. If we are to communicate the story of The Last Of Us , there will be many moments where one will want to look away. Guaranteed all the characters in this dark drama would love to look away, too. But they can't. If they do, they could die. And that's exactly the point.
Related Game(s): The Last Of Us