The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered just restored a chilling must-watch scene, previously cut
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Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
The Last of Us Part II Remastered offers so much more than a new lick of paint. Between the Lost Levels, Guitar Free Play mode, and No Return - which is easily the star of the show - there’s plenty to get hyped about.
I’ve spent much of the last month sampling all the game has to offer, writing in our review, “The Last of Us Part II Remastered is everything fans could’ve wanted from this release. If you’re a new player, this is the definitive way to experience the next chapter in Ellie’s journey and for those returning for another round, you’ll undoubtedly feel a renewed sense of wonder at the marvel that is this game. [...] We all thought Part II was Naughty Dog’s magnum opus but Part II Remastered shows that there’s plenty more gas in the tank. If this is insight into what’s to come from the studio, I cannot wait to see what Naughty Dog is cooking up next.”
While my review provides my thoughts on the overall game, there’s one particular moment in a Lost Level titled ‘The Sewers’ that I haven’t stopped thinking about, and it’s well worth discussing. I didn’t know what to expect from these unfinished snippets of cut content, but I certainly didn’t think I’d find what might just be one of the franchise’s most impactful shots.
Take a look at our video review of The Last of Us Part II Remastered below.
It goes without saying that I’ll be addressing what happens in the extended ‘The Sewers’ segment from here on in. I’ll tell you why I didn’t expect to see anything revolutionary within the Lost Levels, because they were cut. Due to pacing issues, these segments were deemed non-essential. Naturally, as a huge fan, I’m excited to dive into any The Last of Us content, but I still expected to play a segment that felt, well, largely unimportant.
Imagine my surprise then when what is essentially an elongated traversal sequence ended in my utterly breathless astonishment. The Sewers is unfinished and yet delivers an absolute gut-punch of a moment that is easily amongst the best imagery created in the franchise.
Allow me to set the scene. The Sewers takes place on Seattle Day 2, after Ellie is washed away following her passage through a Stalker-infested office building. We see a shortened version of The Sewers in the final game. Ellie surfaces from the water, before we’re tasked with climbing several platforms to reach a ladder - our way out and entrance into our first encounter with the Seraphites.
Originally, Ellie would’ve surfaced deeper within this sewerage system, elongating her escape back to street level. To begin with, you’re tasked with a few puzzles. How do I cross this room despite the water’s current? I’ve reached a dead end, where to next? Whilst this is happening, developer audio snippets provide interesting insight into each of these obstacles, including why they were chosen and how they evolved over time.
Before long, Ellie arrives at a narrow crawl space. Utilising the prone mechanic, I prepared myself for the shimmy through, rapidly realising that the shaft was filled with Infected matter. That’s when you see it, a Clicker embedded in the wall. You have no choice but to crawl towards it with no room at all to fight back or manoeuvre yourself. Is the Clicker dead? Is it simply dormant, ready to strike as soon as it spots a human victim? A rather intense sense of dread sets in. Ellie raises her first in preparation to strike.
The pressure builds with an intensity that’ll put a lump in your throat. As Ellie finally begins to squeeze past, it becomes clear that this Clicker is long gone. There’s a far greater horror lying in this tunnel though. Ellie’s flashlight flickers off. The timing couldn’t be any worse. With your heart in your mouth and a crescendo in the music, the flashlight flickers back on to reveal Joel's bloodied head in replacement of the Clicker’s. The flashlight flickers again, bringing Ellie back to reality.
With a relieved sigh, I - as Ellie - left that dastardly crawl space, quickly pausing the game to process what I just saw. For those who have played the original The Last of Us Part II, you may remember a scene that functions similarly to this during the farmhouse segment of the game, which is where Ellie and Dina reside following the events of Seattle. While herding sheep into the barn, the slamming of the barn door during a sudden change in the weather triggers Ellie’s PTSD, causing her to flashback to this bloodied image of Joel.
This is an incredibly important moment in the game because it’s this depiction of Ellie’s ongoing trauma that pushes her into venturing to Santa Barbara to follow Tommy’s lead, but it’s actually due to the scrapping of the aforementioned moment in The Sewers that led to developers recycling the idea later on. In terms of pacing, it makes much more sense to have this moment fall during the farmhouse sequence.
We need to see why Ellie can’t let this go. She has a somewhat idyllic life by this point, living in a picturesque farmhouse with Dina and baby JJ. As the player, you assume the violence is over so there had to be a big catalyst to send us on to Santa Barbara - and that catalyst is Ellie’s emotional wellbeing, or lack of. As she says to Dina, she cannot sleep, eat, or breathe. She needs to find closure, and the flashback to Joel’s death conveys that perfectly.
During the sewer iteration of this moment, we’re perhaps less in need of that kind of motivation. Joel died, Ellie and Dina ventured to Seattle in pursuit of both Tommy and revenge against Abby, and we find ourselves on day two of attempting to exact that revenge. Ellie is ticking off Abby’s accomplices one-by-one, slowly finding leads that’ll take her to Abby herself. There’s little need to demonstrate Ellie’s motivation so in that sense, I can understand why this moment was cut for pacing.
That being said, pacing aside, I do think the earlier sewer iteration of this moment is far more effective at displaying the intensity of the emotional trauma Ellie’s been subject to. The farmhouse version essentially plays out like a jump scare, completely catching you off guard. The Sewer level achieves that too - I didn’t expect to see Joel’s face - but it goes beyond that, offering players a glimpse of the kind of ongoing turmoil Ellie is going through.
As I previously said, as the player, you’re experiencing several emotions in this scene: fear, dread, apprehension. Of course, these will be much milder than what Ellie’s feeling but the scene forces you to develop a strong level of empathy, by creating a moment that’s so intense that you have no choice but to seek solace in Ellie and trust her strength and resolve, whilst also proving that you’ve got some of your own.
That’s what I’ve always loved about The Last of Us as a franchise. It’s a saga that challenges us emotionally, but it’s our complicity in the narrative and surviving of the lows that make those moments of levity and joy feel so high. In this version of the scene, like Ellie, I was so damn relieved to lift that manhole cover and once again, see daylight.
All I can end with is that I’m very glad the Lost Levels exist. Elsewhere in the ‘Jackson Party’ level, you’re granted a sweet backstory about JJ’s elephant toy Ollie, while ‘Boar Hunt’ brings to life a short hunt referenced in Ellie’s diary. These may be tiny specks in the tale that is The Last of Us Part II but seasoned fans, like me, will take so much delight in seeing brilliant ideas, previously relegated to the cutting room floor, finally brought to life.