By Harold Goldberg
If you read Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past, and you think hard about each little potent firecracker nugget from ancient history to the beautiful wreckage of longing you feel today, you might notice that The Last of Us Part II‘s themes of love and hate have a kind of brittle marriage with memory and forgetting. At a gameplay event in Los Angeles, it was about forgetting the immediate past in the mountains when, as Ellie, a brutal blizzard disoriented and panicked me. It was about remembering the kiss last night during a kiss between Ellie and Dina in a long-abandoned marijuana grow house and then, again, it was about a lack of memory in the tall grass of a ravaged Seattle when you had to forget everything but the present in order to survive.
Outside of the game, I thought about what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget even as I talked with Naughty Dog’s Halley Gross and Neil Druckmann in Los Angeles – and even as I interviewed co-game director Kurt Margenau for this podcast, and even later as I watched a reporter try desperately to explain Ellie’s motivations at dinner. The best parts of the new game are not just about the things we do for love and for hate. They’re about the awkward, difficult things we do to remember and freedom we feel when we are able to forget, when, as one sage poet once wrote, we free our minds and our asses will follow.
Enjoy the podcast. Know that when you indulge in The Last of Us Part II on February 21, 2020, what you play will be much more than a black and white version of love and hate.
Journalist/author Harold Goldberg is the founder of the New York Videogame Critics Circle and The New York Game Awards.