Yes you read the title right, Leading Ladies of The Last Of Us and I say this because although Joel is the main playable character it’s always the female characters in the game that lead the way having the greatest impact on the story, a fact that seems to have been overlooked by many.
Far from criticising this we actually applaud Naughty Dog for a great bit of forward thinking in bringing female characters to the forefront showing you that yes Joel is a big tough guy that can handle himself but he need's the guidance and strength given from the female characters to keep him going.
Lets look at Joel’s partner Tess for example, she’s beautiful but she’s not your run of the mill overly sexualised lead female character she’s in fact a hardened survivor not afraid to kill out of necessity and comes across as mentally stronger then Joel. You can see this when Joel wants to give up on transporting Ellie all the way but Tess understands the gravity of the situation convincing him to get the job done. Even her death scene was a powerful statement of independence and her ability to dominate situations.
Then we have the leader of the Fireflies Marlene who is a friend to Ellie’s mum Anna. Her ultimatum to Joel and Tess basically forms the basis of the entire story. Upon meeting her again at the end we see the power she holds and the respect she has from her Firefly subordinates as well as a clear mind on what needs to be done.
Also worth mentioning is Joel’s brothers wife Maria, She runs a whole settlement of survivors.
Last but not least Ellie, well what can I say about Ellie? One of the most likeable characters to grace a video game for a long time. At a glance it seems as if she’s the archetypal damsel in distress but play the game and you’ll find she’s far from a needy teen. After Tess dies Ellie becomes the driving force behind Joel, every time he begins to falter she spurs him on even saving his life on two main occasions when the odds are stacked heavily against her.
So hats off to Naughty Dog and the Ladies of The Last of Us.
Andrew P Paschalis